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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #19-33
May 8, 2019
Contact: Janet Weeks
Phone: 916-319-0313

State Board Adopts Guidance on Health Instruction

The State Board of Education (SBE) today adopted new health education guidance for K–12 teachers designed to make classrooms more inclusive and help students access the knowledge and skills necessary to grow into healthy adults.

The 2019 Health Education Curriculum Framework for California Public Schools is aligned to California’s 2008 health standards and includes additional guidance on teaching the sexual health content mandated in the 2016 California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA). Parents can opt out of CHYA completely—schools must inform parents first so they have the option.

The framework’s focus is on guiding districts and teachers as they develop curriculum and instruction that enables students to make healthy choices and avoid high-risk behaviors. The framework’s guidance includes suggestions on the use of gender-neutral and LGBTQ-inclusive language during health instruction to make classrooms safer learning environments free from bullying and harassment.

Use of the framework is optional for districts. Resources in the framework are optional as well—the framework does not mandate curriculum or instructional practices.

The framework covers the six content areas of physical and mental wellness:

  • Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Growth, Development, and Sexual Health
  • Injury, Prevention, and Safety
  • Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs
  • Mental, Emotional, and Social Health
  • Personal and Community Health

“Life has become exponentially more complex in the last few decades,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, President of the California State Board of Education and of the Learning Policy Institute. “The Health Curriculum Framework—developed by educators for educators—gives district administrators and educators the guidance and resources they need to develop curriculum and instruction that can help students adopt healthy behaviors that support their physical and mental well-being and navigate through the sometimes complicated situations that will come their way. Equally important, the framework can help make classrooms safer learning environments free from bullying and harassment.”

The framework is the result of an exhaustive public vetting process prescribed by regulation. The process has been ongoing since 2016. That process included four CDE focus group meetings with health education teachers in various parts of the state. From these focus groups, CDE created guidelines for the Health Education Frameworks. The SBE approved those guidelines.

Next, a Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) was created. Twenty members were appointed to the committee by the SBE. More than half (55 percent) were K–12 California credentialed health education teachers.

The CFCC met six times between May 2017 and January 2018. Each of the six meetings were open to the public, there were at least two opportunities for public comment during each of the six two-day meetings. Public comment was also collected via email during two 60-day review periods. As a result of public comment, the Board removed six books listed as resources.

In terms of sexual health education, the framework provides guidance to help districts and teachers follow the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA). Signed into law in 2016, CHYA requires students to receive medically accurate and unbiased comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention information once in middle school and once in high school.

CHYA’s required topics include the safety and effectiveness of contraceptive methods, sexually transmitted diseases, gender identity, sexual orientation, and healthy relationships.

According to the results from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, students who identified as LGBTQ report that they are more likely to be bullied and more likely to consider suicide than their peers.

Dispelling myths, breaking down stereotypes, and linking students to resources can help prevent bullying.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, July 29, 2022
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