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Sexual Health Topics and the Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Are you concerned about your child’s sexual health development and need support from your school team? You can work with their IEP team to include sexual health topics in their learning plan.

Your child can benefit from learning about these topics beginning at any age. The topics and complexity can advance and grow as they do. It is important to start with topics that are relatable and support the social and emotional development of your child. Social and emotional development addresses: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Some topics to explore within the HUB to support this development include boundaries in relationships, healthy relationships, and social media and online boundaries. As your child gets older, and bodily changes begin to occur, start introducing the more advanced topics provided within the HUB.

Learning about these topics has valuable long-term impacts on students.

Consent – Understanding and practicing asking for and giving consent teaches your student to advocate for themselves and can help protect against sexual abuse.

Boundaries – Setting appropriate physical and emotional boundaries gives your student the skills they need to maintain healthy relationships at home, school, work, and in the community.

Reproduction – Understanding the body and how it works allows your student to communicate their needs with medical providers and protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STIs.

Collaborate with your child’s teacher and the rest of the IEP team to create goals that center around sexual health. The Disability-inclusive Sexual Health Network has heard from many teachers who would like to provide instruction on these topics but are not able to do so without the inclusion of goals on the IEP. DSHN has created a Sexual Health Concept guide to help parents/guardians and IEP teams create individualized goals for Family Life Education.

Use this resource as a base to identify the specific areas of need and to develop a plan that supports your child’s growth and access to this valuable education.

For Virginia Residents:

Family Life Education (FLE), or sexual health education, is not required in Virginia public schools. However, the majority of school districts do provide some FLE instruction. If a school district offers FLE, they must meet certain Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) requirements, but largely it is up to each school district to decide how FLE instruction is provided. This means that how often FLE instruction occurs, who teaches FLE, what curriculum is used, etc. varies across school districts. Your child’s access to FLE may differ depending on their school, who teaches FLE, and the type of classroom they are in. Virginia also has an “opt-out” policy that allows parents and/or guardians to remove their student from any class.

In March of 2020, Virginia House Bill 134 and Virginia Senate Bill 186 were signed into law. HB 134 and SB 186 require “the Department of Education to establish guidelines for individualized education program (IEP) teams to utilize when developing IEPs for children with disabilities to ensure that IEP teams consider the need for age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate instruction related to sexual health, self-restraint, self-protection, respect for personal privacy, and personal boundaries of others. The bill requires each local school board, in developing IEPs for children with disabilities, in addition to any other requirements established by the Board of Education, to ensure that IEP teams consider such guidelines.”

As of April 2023 guidelines for considering and addressing a student’s need for Family Life Education have not yet been released by the VDOE. Parents and guardians remain the best advocates for these topics to be included on their student’s IEP.