District Administration: Comprehensive Sexuality Education More Effective With Gender Focus, Council Research Shows

District Administration, the leading education magazine for US school district leaders, assesses the state of sexuality education in US public schools and reports on how some schools are improving the instruction of sex ed by addressing topics like gender roles, consent, self-esteem, body attitudes and  healthy relationships. 

The article cites Population Council expert Nicole Haberland, whose research shows that sex education programs which address gender equality and power in relationships are five times more likely to reduce STIs and unintended pregnancies than programs that don’t. As leader of the Council’s Rethinking Sexuality Education project, Haberland co-edited It’s All One Curriculum: Guidelines and Activities for a Unified Approach to Sexuality, Gender, HIV, and Human Rights Education, a user-friendly resource for sexuality curriculum development.

“To that end, districts that provide comprehensive sex education increasingly add elements of social-emotional learning to teach students about more than just the central topics of contraception, the functions of the reproductive system and sexually transmitted diseases.

In fact, this approach—which tackles issues such as sexism, drugs and alcohol, physical abuse, date rape, and body image—can even be effective in districts that follow abstinence-only policies, says Nicole Haberland, a senior research associate with the Population Council, a nonprofit that operates family health programs in more than 50 countries.

…The Council’s studies also show that sex ed curricula covering gender equality and healthy relationships—along with basic biology—reduce pregnancies and STDs more effectively than programs that don’t, she says.

‘Even if they can’t teach condom use, they can talk about issues of gender equality and power in intimate relationships,’ Haberland says. ‘They can increase young people’s knowledge about their bodies and help them recognize their own worth.’”

Read more at District Administration.