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CA Education Code



In January 2016, California adopted a new law, the California Healthy Youth Act, covering sexual health education in public schools. As a parent, student, teacher, or community member, you may want to know the following facts about the law.


  • Sexual health education is required twice during a student’s educational career: once in middle school and once in high school.

  • Sexual health education provided in any grade (including puberty education) must be medically accurate and age-appropriate. Materials must be appropriate for students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners. All instruction must:  

    • Affirmatively recognize people have different orientation and include examples

    • Teach about gender, gender expression, gender identity and the harm of negative stereotypes

    • Encourage communication with parents/guardians/ trusted adults

    • Teach about healthy relationships

    • Teach about decision making, negotiation and refusal skills

    • Teach the value of and prepare pupils to have and maintain committed relationships, such as marriage

  • Starting in 7th grade, must cover abstinence, effectiveness and safety of contraception, protection from sexually transmitted diseases, and decision-making. Schools must use trusted sources of information, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to determine medical accuracy. All pregnancy and STI prevention devices that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration must be covered.

  • Schools cannot provide abstinence-only programs. Abstinence-only education presents abstinence as the only option for preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases; the law requires that other methods be included. Many abstinence-only programs are religious in nature; sex education cannot promote any religious ideas.

  • Parents must be notified that their child will have sexual health education at the beginning of the school year or at least 14 days before classes start and be allowed to see the materials before classes start. If a parent does not want their child to take the class, they must make a written request excusing their child from instruction.

  • Teachers of both HIV/AIDS education and sexual health education must be trained in the subject. Schools may use outside organizations or speakers provided they have the requisite training, but those organizations must also follow the law when they present.


This is just a brief overview of the CA Education Code. To see the full text of the California Healthy Youth Act, sections 51930-51939 of the California Education Code, click here. If you are concerned that your school is not following the law, we’d be happy to talk with you to understand your school’s situation and connect you with resources.



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