Comprehensive Sex Ed: It’s (Still) Working!

In early 2009, I shared with you the history of Cleveland’s commitment to providing comprehensive sexual health education for all our students — a partnership led by the Cleveland schools and fully backed by dozens of key leaders (City, County, foundations) and most importantly student and parents themselves. 

Early evaluation results of the program showed that when students receive medically accurate, age and culturally appropriate health education, they are better prepared to make smart, healthy decisions about their futures.

Since the release of that report in 2009, the District’s comprehensive health education efforts have continued. Last year, over 12,000 students received comprehensive health education and 130 teachers were trained to deliver the evidence-based curriculum.  

I’m pleased to once again report that our community’s responsible sexual behavior program is making a difference. And a measurable one at that. Our partners at the AIDS Funding Collaborative and Philliber Research Associates released a follow-up evaluation on the third year of our K-12 Responsible Sexual Behavior Initiative (2008-2009). 

Among the highlights of the 2008/2009 school year evaluation:

  • Students showed statistically significant improvements in overall knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavioral intent across the three curricula included in the evaluation;
  • The topic students in grades 1-3 most frequently reported they learned about was good touch/bad touch, while high school students were as likely to name abstinence as they were to name safer sex as the most important lesson learned;
  • 130 CMSD physical education and health teachers successfully completed intensive training to deliver the Responsible Sexual Behavior curricula, and demonstrated high levels of knowledge and comfort delivering the programming. The evaluation identified some areas for additional training.
  • Parents overwhelmingly support schools teaching comprehensive sexuality education. Among the parents whose children received the curriculum, 83 percent of those with children in grades K‐6 and 68 percent of those with children in grades 7‐12 reported having a discussion with their child about sex, or a related topic, because of what was learned in the classroom.

The Cleveland Foundation is proud to support the Cleveland schools, and our many partner institutions, in funding medically accurate, comprehensive health education for our students. For more information on the Responsible Sexual Behavior program and its third year evaluation, read the full evaluation report and accompanying briefs.

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