SIECUS was founded in 1964 by Dr. Mary S. Calderone. A Medical Director at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dr. Calderone became concerned about the lack of accurate information about sexuality available for both young people and adults. So at the age of 60, determined to live in a world in which sexuality was viewed as a natural and healthy part of life, Dr. Calderone founded SIECUS with Wallace Fulton, Reverend William Genne, Lester Kirkendall, Dr. Harold Lief, and Clark Vincent.
In the decades that followed, SIECUS became a recognized leader in the field of sexuality and sex education, publishing numerous books, journals, and resources for professionals, parents, and the public. SIECUS’ publication, Guidelines for Comprehensive Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade, was hailed as a major breakthrough for sex education and continues to be a sought after resource. With the discovery of HIV, SIECUS became one of the first national organizations to respond to the crisis, co-sponsoring a ground-breaking conference with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in 1984 and publishing one of the first educational books about HIV/AIDS: How to Talk to your Children About AIDS. Then, in the 1990s, the New York City-based SIECUS began to expand its work related to sex education policy and advocacy efforts and opened a public policy office in Washington, DC.
In the early 2000s, SIECUS further refocused its efforts to prioritize advancing progressive sex education policy across the country, working to affect change at federal, state, and local levels. In 2019, as SIECUS marked its 55th year in operation, the organization officially renamed to “SIECUS,” dropping its former spelled out title and adding the tagline: Sex Ed for Social Change.
While maintaining the belief that sex education is necessary for providing young people with the information they need to ensure their own lifelong sexual health and well-being, SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change began asserting that it can also do more than that; sex education has the power to spark large-scale social change. SIECUS is not a single-issue organization because sex ed, as SIECUS envisions it, connects and addresses a variety of social issues. Sex ed sits at the nexus of many social justice movements—from LGBTQ rights and reproductive justice to the #MeToo movement and urgent conversations around consent and healthy relationships.
Today, SIECUS continues to advocate for the rights of all people to access and enjoy accurate and comprehensive sexuality information, education, and related health services. In doing so, SIECUS honors its founding mission while, simultaneously, working to advance a vision of sex education to meet the needs of the future.