- District of Columbia Municipal Regulations §§ 5-E2304 and 5-E2305 state that public schools must provide comprehensive school health education, including instruction on human sexuality and reproduction. The instruction must be age-appropriate and taught in grades pre-k–12, though it is not required to be medically accurate. It is, however, required to include lessons on abstinence.
- The superintendent must provide systematic teacher training and staff development activities for health and physical education instructors. A list of all textbooks for student and teacher training must be included in the list of textbooks submitted annually to the District Board of Education for its approval.
- Parents or guardians may submit a written request to the principal if they wish to remove their children from human sexuality and reproduction education classes. This is referred to as an opt-out policy.
- The District of Columbia provides Health Education Standards for kindergarten through 12th grade. Safety Skills, Human Body and Personal Health, and Disease Prevention are three of the six learning categories. STDs, HIV, unintended pregnancy, abstinence, and contraception are all discussed. In 2017, the Sexual Health Curriculum Review was published to guide educators in providing sex education.
- In 2016, the state standards were updated to ensure students learn how to “differentiate between gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and sex assigned at birth/biological sex,” as well as to understand that “as people grow and develop, they may begin to feel romantically and/or sexually attracted to people of a different gender and/or to people of the same gender.”
- The curriculum must also include instruction on how alcohol and other substances can affect the ability to give or perceive the provision of consent to sexual activity. Students must research, compare, and contrast DC minor consent laws.
- The Office of the State Superintendent of Education, in consultation with the State Board of Education, are required to develop and implement health education standards on menstrual education designed for all students, regardless of gender, in DC’s public and charter schools beginning in grade 4.
Some Sex Ed Advocates Within the State
- Sex Is… and their Wrap MC program
- The Grassroot Project
- Latin American Youth Center
- Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC
- Healthy Babies Project
For more detailed information on how various districts in the state have been implementing these standards — and for recent legislation — you can read SIECUS’s District of Columbia profile.