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Florida School District Plans to Update Sexuality Education Policy

Broward County School District in Florida has proposed a change for the 2014 school year—a new requirement for a more inclusive and updated sexual health curriculum for students in every grade level.[1]

Florida has some of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the nation—for all ages—but especially when it comes to young people. In 2011, Florida had a rate of 13.5 per 100,000 HIV infection diagnoses for adolescents ages 13 to 19, nearly double the national rate of 7.6 per 100,000.[2] Broward County, in particular, has some of the worst HIV/AIDS rates in the nation. In 2011, more than 17,000 residents were living with HIV, including 1,040 new cases of which 146 were those under the age of 24.[3]

In 2012, Florida was the nation’s second highest recipient of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, receiving $2,829,101 from the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program.[4] The current state education law outlines sexual abstinence as the “expected standard.”[5] Additionally, 13% of Florida high school students reported never having been taught about HIV/AIDS in school.[6]

The Sunshine State Standards for Health and Physical Fitness do not mention instruction in HIV/AIDS, sexuality transmitted diseases (STD), or sexuality education. Although some students may end up receiving instruction on HIV/AIDS and other STDs by completing a one-credit course called Health Opportunities through Physical Education (HOPE), state policy still reads that “course descriptions for comprehensive health education shall not interfere with the local determination of appropriate curriculum which reflects local values and concerns.”[7]

The proposed Broward County district policy would require schools to teach sex education at least once a year in every grade. Additionally, schools would be required to submit annual reports to track the number of students being reached and to evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction. Amalio Nieves, the director of diversity outreach and prevention for Broward County School District, said, “Our hope is to ensure schools start talking about [sexual health] often, that students are not getting a hodgepodge and that sex education is more consistent.”[8]

Consistent with current law, parents/guardians will still be allowed to opt their kids out of sexuality education instruction and the district has plans to roll out an updated sexuality education curriculum. A public meeting on the policy will be held December 18, and the School Board will vote on the policy in 2014.[9]

[1]Karen Yi, “Broward school district plans to update sex ed,” Sun Sentinel, November 16, 2013, accessed November 25, 2013,,0,5848891.story.
Slide 9: “Rates of Diagnosis of HIV Infection among Adolescents Aged 13-19 Years, 2011—United States and 6 Dependent Areas,” HIV Surveillance in Adolescents and Young Adults, (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), accessed May 30, 2013,
Karen Yi, “Broward school district plans to update sex ed,” Sun Sentinel, November 16, 2013, accessed November 25, 2013,,0,5848891.story.
2012 Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program Awards, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family and Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, October 1, 2012, accessed November 25, 2013,
Florida Statutes 48-1003.42, Section 2(n),
Danice K. Eaton, et. al., “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2011,” Surveillance Summaries, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 61, no. SS-4 (June 8, 2012): accessed November 25, 2013
Florida Statutes 48-1003.42, Section 3,
David Ferguson, “Record HIV rate spurs Florida district to adopt sex ed program for schools,” The Raw Story, November 13, 2013, accessed November 25, 2013,