Health Education

Health education is a required academic subject for students in all grades. In this class, students learn how to take care of their minds, their bodies, and their relationships with others. They learn the concepts and skills they need to be healthy for life, including:

  • social and emotional skills
  • how to set goals for life and health
  • how to find and use health services
  • good communication and relationship skills
  • how to set boundaries and resist negative social pressure

Under NY State law:

  • All students in grades kindergarten – 12 must have health education as part of their education.
  • All students must have HIV/AIDS lessons, every year.

Health Education Topics

As in any other school subject, each year students learn skills that build on the last year’s lessons. In health class, your child will receive lessons on:

  • Mental, emotional, and social health, including how to prevent bullying
  • Nutrition and physical activity
  • Personal health and safety
  • Growth, development, and identity
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention
  • How to prevent disease and illness, including HIV /AIDS

Sexual Health Education

We require all students in grades 6-12 to have sexual health education as part of their comprehensive health education lessons. We do not require a separate “sex ed” course in any grade.

Sexual health education must be:

  • age-appropriate
  • skills-based
  • medically accurate

Your school will send you a letter before sexual health education lessons begin in your child’s health class. You may ask that the school not give lessons to your child about birth control and about how to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections. The school will let you know about this opt-out process.

Summary of Requirements

You can find complete requirements and information about the curriculum for each grade level on the Health Education Requirements page.

Elementary School

  • Grade K-5 students must receive health instruction every year.
  • Grade K-6 students must receive five HIV/AIDS lessons per year.

Middle School

  • Grade 6 - 8 students must receive one semester of daily Health Education.
  • Sexual health education topics are part of the health course.
  • Grade 6 students must receive five HIV/AIDS lessons per year.
  • Grades 7 – 8 students must receive six HIV/AIDS lessons per year.

High School

  • High school students must receive one semester of daily Health Education.
  • Sexual health education topics are part of the health course.
  • Students must receive six HIV/AIDS lessons per year.
  • All high school students must earn one credit in Health Education to graduate.

Health Education at Your School

On our InfoHub Health Data page, you can find information about your school’s health education programs last year, such as:

  • How many students were scheduled to receive health education
  • How many health teachers the school has
  • How many high school graduates met the health requirement (high schools)

Condom Availability Program

All high schools must have a Condom Availability Program. Under this program, schools must provide a space where students in grades 9-12 can get free condoms, health information, and health referrals from trained staff. You may ask the school not to provide your adolescent with condoms, but they can still receive information and referrals to health services.

Visit the Condom Availability Program page.

Family Resources 

The following resources and letters are for parents and families to reference so that they know what information they should receive from their child's school. The letters are for informational purposes only. Schools will send letters—except for the Sexual Health Education Parent Notification letter signed by the Chancellor—to parents, families, and caregivers on official letterhead.

Sexual Health Education Parent Notification Letter

Middle and high schools must send each parent/guardian a notification letter, signed by the Chancellor, prior to their child receiving sexual health lessons as part of comprehensive health education. Sexual health education parent notification letters apply only to students in grades 6-12.

HIV/AIDS Parent Notification Letters

Schools must send each parent/guardian a notification letter, signed by the principal, prior to their child receiving HIV/AIDS lessons. In grade 6-12 health classes, schools may instead choose to send each parent or guardian a single notification letter that covers both HIV/AIDS and sexual health education.

Grades K-5 HIV Lesson Overviews for Parents

These overviews provide parents and families a summary of the HIV lessons their student will receive. Lessons include basic concepts and skills that students will need for future HIV prevention instruction, compassion for people living with HIV, as well as for lifelong health.

HIV/AIDS Opt-Out Lessons

Parents/guardians may excuse their child from the following "opt-out" prevention lessons.

Condom Availability Program Parent/Guardian Notification Letters

This sample parent letter informs parents/guardians of new students in grades 9-12 about the Condom Availability Program.

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