Rationale for the Curriculum
While many sexuality education materials have addressed the needs of adolescents, Advocates for Youth realized that such education must begin much earlier. Learning about good communication, safety in relationships, and growth and development lays a foundation that can support healthy relationships and healthy behaviors throughout a person’s lifetime. This K-12 curriculum, therefore, is a collection of lesson plans on a wide range of topics including: self-understanding, family, growth and development, friendship, sexuality, life skills, and health promotion.
Values and Assumptions
Rather than attempting to be “values-free,” Rights. Respect. Responsibility. consciously embraces a set of values that are widely accepted in our society. It is important for teachers and health educators to be aware of the curriculum’s point of view in order to be able to communicate its underlying values not only to students, but also to parents, school administrators, school counselors, school nurses and youth-serving professionals.
The following values should be stressed implicitly and, when appropriate, explicitly whenever possible:
- Parents/caregivers are the primary sexuality educators of their children. School districts and community-based organizations should function as partners with parents/caregivers in providing sexuality education. Together, these institutions have the responsibility to provide young people with honest, age-appropriate sexuality education.
- Sexuality is a natural and healthy part of being human.
- At every stage of their development, children have the right to age-appropriate information about health, sexuality and relationships.
- Every person has dignity and worth and deserves respect. Diversity in gender, identity, race, religion, culture, and sexual orientation should be celebrated.
- It is wrong to use psychological pressure, fear, or physical force to make people do things without their consent.
- People are responsible for their own behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors.
- Cisgender boys and men are often demonized or simply ignored when it comes to sexuality education. But boys aren’t the bad guys. In fact, no one is. Normalizing everyone’s right and ability to make positive choices about sexuality, sex, and relationships, regardless of what their peers are doing – regardless of their gender or the gender of their partners – can send a powerful message to all students.
- Open communication is an important part of maintaining healthy relationships.
- It is good for young people to be able to talk openly and comfortably about sexuality issues with their parents/caregivers, peers, trusted adults and, in the future, romantic partners.
- Relationships should never be coercive or exploitative, but instead should be based on mutual respect.
- It’s normal to have sexual feelings; however, feelings should not always be acted upon.
- Until a teen is old enough to act responsibly and protect themselves and their partner, it is healthiest to seek ways other than vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse to express their romantic and sexual feelings.
- Young people have the responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease by abstaining from risky behavior or using effective contraception and/or condoms.