Comprehensive Sexuality Education

INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  78

POLICY CODE:   IHAMB

TO:  Superintendents of Schools, Public and Private Secondary and Elementary School Principals, School Counselors, School Nurses
FROM:  Stephen L. Bowen, Commissioner of Education
DATE:  March 24, 2011
RE:  Comprehensive Sexuality Education

This letter is to congratulate Maine middle, junior high and high schools for the accomplishments that have been made in reaching our youth with HIV / STI prevention and sexual health skills. With support from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, Maine is recognized as having a very good reputation for implementing effective HIV education. The Maine Department of Education will continue to train teachers in evidenced-based HIV prevention curricula.

Maine students are making more responsible sexuality-related decisions, and we met a number of Maine’s Year 2010 Adolescent Health Goals. The following indicate concrete results using the 2009 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey data: the percentage of high school students who are abstinent stands currently at 54%. In addition, among students who had sexual intercourse during the past three months, 60.5% used a condom.

There is more work to be done. Teen pregnancy rates for 15 to 17 year-olds have increased slightly, while Chlamydia rates have significantly increased. It should be noted that fewer students report being taught about AIDS or HIV infection in schools. Across the country, adolescent HIV cases have increased in a number of states.

In support of Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Maine youth, the Department of Education; Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an office of the Department of Health and Human Services; Family Planning Association of Maine; the University of Maine Farmington; and New Beginnings are collaborating to offer the sixth annual Comprehensive Sexuality Education Conference. The conference will be held on April 7, 2011, from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. For more information, please contact Jean Zimmerman at the Department of Education at:  jean.zimmerman@maine.gov.