Primary Goals of Sexuality Education

1. Information

A comprehensive sexuality education program should provide complete, medically accurate information about all aspects of human sexuality. This ensures that young people receive reliable and potentially life-saving information from trusted sources about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. By advocating for comprehensive sexuality education, religious leaders demonstrate the moral commitment to provide education that is honest, accurate, and complete.

2. Attitudes, Values, and Insights

Youth learn to articulate their sexual attitudes in the context of the expressed values of their families and religious communities, their relationships with family members, and their responsibilities to their families, religious communities, and others. Religious leaders should teach young people that their faith traditions can provide insight into sexuality as a healthy aspect of human life and a vital part of religious experience. When supported by caring adults, young people of faith will make decisions concerning their sexuality using the framework of values and attitudes of their religious traditions.

3. Relationships and Interpersonal Skills

A central goal of comprehensive sexuality education is the development of interpersonal skills in the areas of communication, decision-making, assertiveness, and peer refusal. Faith communities offer a variety of opportunities for young people to develop significant relationships beyond the nuclear family with teachers, mentors, and clergy. In acquiring these skills, young people develop a sense of self as they learn how to relate to others. Many religious traditions affirm sexuality as a divinely bestowed blessing and assist young people in developing the capacity for caring, supportive, non-coercive, and mutually pleasurable sexual relationships when they become adults.

4. Responsible Decision-Making

Comprehensive sexuality education programs provide youth with the skills and knowledge they need to develop their own moral capacity. Comprehensive sexuality education addresses abstinence and resisting pressure for sexual intercourse, and encourages the use of contraception and other sexual health measures when young people do become sexually active. Religious traditions teach that decisions about dating, marriage, sexual activity, and parenting are grounded in moral considerations. Comprehensive sexuality education affirms that values form the foundation for responsible, informed decision-making. Haffner, Debra, and Kate Ott, A Time to Speak: Faith Communities and Sexuality Education, 2nd Ed. (Norwalk, CT: Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, 2005), 25.