Curriculum & Instruction » California Healthy Youth Act FAQs

California Healthy Youth Act FAQs

What is “The California Healthy Youth Act”?
The California Healthy Youth Act is a Department of Education mandate, which took effect January 1, 2016. This mandate requires school districts to provide students with integrated, comprehensive, accurate, and inclusive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education, at least once in high school and once in middle school from trained instructors.
What is the purpose of the California Healthy Youth Act?
The law has five primary goals:
  1. To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their sexual and reproductive health from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and from unintended pregnancy;
  2. To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to develop healthy attitudes concerning adolescent growth and development, body image, gender, sexual orientation, relationships, marriage and family;
  3. To promote understanding of sexuality as a normal part of human development;
  4. To ensure pupils receive integrated, comprehensive, accurate and unbiased sexual health and HIV prevention instruction and provide educators with clear tools and guidance to accomplish that end;
  5. To provide pupils with the knowledge and skills necessary to have healthy, positive and safe behaviors and relationships.
What are schools in Castro Valley required to teach?
All schools in California, including CVUSD are required to teach what is detailed in the education code.  California Education Code defines comprehensive sexual health education as “education regarding human development and sexuality, including education on pregnancy, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections” (EC § 51931(b)) and HIV prevention education as “instruction on the nature of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and AIDS, methods of transmission, strategies to reduce the risk of HIV infection, and social and public health issues related to HIV and AIDS” (EC § 51931(d)).
When does CVUSD teach the requirements of the California Healthy Youth Act?
Castro Valley Unified schools implement short units of instruction as a part of the 8th grade science curriculum and 9th grade health curriculum, only. There is no instruction for students younger than 8th grade.
Does the district notify parents/guardians before instruction?
Yes! According to law, parents or guardians must be notified by the school or district at the beginning of the school year, at least 14 days in advance, or at the time of enrollment about planned instruction in comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education and research on student health behaviors and risks.The notice must advise parents/guardians that the written and audiovisual educational materials used in the comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education course are available for inspection.The school district must also inform parents/guardians about whether the instruction will be provided by district personnel or outside consultants or guest speakers. Further, all instruction and materials from outside consultants or guest speakers must meet all tenets of the law. If instruction will be provided by outside consultants or guest speakers, the notice must include the name and organizational affiliation of the outside consultant or guest speaker and the date of the instruction.
The notice must also inform parents/guardians of their right to request copies of Education Code § 51933, 51934, and 51938. If arrangements are made after the initial notification is sent out at the beginning of the year, districts must notify parents at least 14 days prior to the instruction via mail or another commonly used method.  (EC § 51938(b).)In this notification, schools must advise parents/guardians that they have the right to excuse their child from comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education and that in order to excuse their child they must state their request in writing to the school district.  (EC § 51938(b)(4).
Please click on this text to view the parent notification for eighth grade (Canyon Middle School, Creekside Middle School).
Please click on this text to view the parent notification for freshman (high school). 
Can CVUSD opt-out of teaching the mandates of the law?
No, the state legislation originally known as AB 329, requires that students in grades seven through 12 receive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education at least once in middle school and once in high school. School districts are tasked with selecting their own curricula under the leadership of their locally elected boards and superintendents.
Can parents/guardians opt out of sexual health lessons?
Yes. State law and Castro Valley Unified School District board policy makes it clear that parents can opt their children out of comprehensive sex education by providing the school district with written notification. According to the language in AB 329, “The Legislature recognizes that while parents and guardians overwhelmingly support medically accurate, comprehensive sex education, parents and guardians have the ultimate responsibility for imparting values regarding human sexuality to their children.” 
What curriculum or specific text book is used to teach The California Healthy Youth Act?
There is not a curriculum from the state or a publisher that is used specifically for the California Healthy Youth Act. Our trained instructors utilize science and health materials that they have developed along with supplemental resources to meet the state law and deliver instruction in a way consistent with both the values of the community and requirements of the law.  
What is CVUSD’s approach in teaching the mandate?
CVUSD’s collaborative approach with teachers in delivering instruction that meets the California Healthy Youth Act ensures students are provided age-appropriate information; are taught medically accurate and objective material; are appropriate for use with students of all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds reflective of our community; and encourages students to communicate with their parents/guardians and other trusted adults about human sexuality and HIV/sexually transmitted infection prevention.
What does the law teach about abstinence?
Under AB 329, abstinence may not be discussed in isolation from other methods of preventing HIV, other sexually transmitted infections — or STIs — and pregnancy. However, the law requires that instruction and materials include information explaining that abstinence is the only certain way to prevent HIV, other STIs and unintended pregnancies. It also states that “Instruction shall provide information about the value of delaying sexual activity while also providing medically accurate information on other methods of preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.”
Can parents opt out of instruction that discuss gender identity, gender expression and orientation?
As mentioned above, parents/guardians can excuse their children from lessons about comprehensive sexual health and HIV prevention education, as well as research on student health behaviors and risks.
However, as stated in Education Code 51932(b), the opt-out provision of the California Healthy Youth Act does not apply to instruction or materials outside the context of comprehensive sexual health education, including those that may reference gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, discrimination, bullying, relationships, or family. For example, the opt-out rule associated with comprehensive sexual health education would not apply to a social studies lesson on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Read more about the FAIR Education Act of 2011.
What is the Health Education Curriculum Framework?
The 2019 Health Education Curriculum Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (Health Education Framework) is a guidance document that districts may use when developing health education programs for students. The framework provides guidance for teachers and administrators on how to teach California’s 2008 Health Education Content Standards. It is NOT the law. There is a clear difference between the California Healthy Youth Act and the 2019 Health Education Curriculum Framework. Please click on this text to view a PDF explanation of the difference.