Guiding Principles for Sexual Health Education for Young People: A Guide for Community-Based Organizations


Sexual health education for young people (ages 10 to 24) is a challenging topic. Community-based organizations play an important role in delivering sexual health education to adolescents to decrease the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV and unintended pregnancy.

A sexually healthy adolescent is able to realize their individual potential around critical developmental tasks related to sexuality. These tasks include: accepting his/her body; gender identity and sexual orientation; communicating effectively with family, peers and partners; possessing accurate knowledge of human anatomy and physiology; understanding the risks, responsibilities, outcomes and impacts of sexual actions; possessing the skills needed to take action to reduce his/her risk; knowing how to use and access the health care system and other community institutions to seek information, and services as needed; setting appropriate sexual boundaries; acting responsibly according to his/her personal values; and, forming and maintaining meaningful, healthy relationships.

To promote the optimal sexual health of young people in New York State, adolescent sexual health education programs supported by the New York State Department of Health are most effective when they include the following guiding principles:

This guide was developed to provide the background behind each of these principles and to provide strategies that community-based organizations can put into action to overcome the challenges associated with fulfilling these principles.

The strategies displayed in this document are not the only ways to put the guiding principles into action. Community-based organizations may think of other strategies based on the populations they serve and the needs of the communities they serve. Resources are referenced in this document to provide more in-depth information, as well as additional potential strategies.