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NSTA Position Statement:
The Teaching of Sexuality and Human Reproduction
Sexuality and human reproduction are essential concepts in a comprehensive science program. The teaching of these subjects continues to be very important at all educational levels. Parents, as first teachers, need to be a collaborative partner in this process. The National Science Teachers Association, NSTA regards instruction in sexuality and the biology of human reproduction to be necessary in the education of every person and to represent a legitimate component of any teaching program in the life and health sciences. We hold that education in this field is feasible at every curricular stage and can therefore, begin at the earliest grade or level. In addition, we consider knowledge of human sexuality as a fundamental and natural characteristic of humans which is critical for understanding the attitudes and actions of individuals, families, communities, and nations.
- Science education is concerned with the teaching of the biological aspects of reproduction. Therefore, the following topics are identified as part of the biological subject matter of human reproduction:
- Anatomy and physiology of male and female reproductive systems.
- Genetic and endocrine foundations of sexuality.
- Nature and development of secondary sex characteristics.
- Puberty, menopause, and other sex-related phenomena of the life cycle.
- Sperm and egg maturation, including the menstrual cycle.
- Intercourse, fertilization and the events of pregnancy.
- Family planning methods for reproductive health including contraceptive options (i.e. abstinence, condoms, pills, IUDs, natural injectables, emergency contraception, termination of pregnancy, etc.)
- Development of an embryo and fetus, including multiple births, lactation, pre- and postnatal development.
- Relationship of reproduction to population biology and to the ecology of humans.
- Reproductive hygiene and teaching about infections that can be transmitted by sexual activities, are an integral part of a human reproduction curriculum. Methods to prevent the acquisition of HIV, herpes and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) must also be included in the instruction and information made available to students.
- Instruction in human sexuality should involve the physical, emotional, mental and social dimensions of sexuality. It is important that this instruction be related to the maturation of the students, and conducted by qualified teachers.
—Adopted by the NSTA Board of Directors