The purpose of health education is to develop health-literate students—students who acquire the knowledge and possess the skills needed to engage in meaningful and health-enhancing lifetime behaviors. The Health & Physical Education Standards provide a foundation for implementing age appropriate instruction for all students.  Sexual Health Education is a strand of Health Education in Washington State, along with Wellness, Safety, Nutrition, Social Emotional Health, and Substance Use and Abuse.

Sexual Health Education

Sexual Health Education follows the Washington State Health Education K-12 Learning Standards.  For grades PK-4 Sexual Health Education is taught through the teaching and learning of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills and concepts.  The SEL curriculum is the sexual health curriculum for those grades.  Beginning in Grade 5 other curricula is used for teaching Comprehensive Sexual Health aligned to the Health Education K-12 Learning Standards.  The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has an approved list of materials to help districts select curriculum for grades 5 through high school.  See below for information on our curriculum in Bellingham Public Schools.

Below are the 2021-22 lesson plans and materials. Materials are made available for families to preview prior to instruction in the classroom.  Notification will come from the school related to instruction dates.

New state guidance about sexual health education
Information for parents

Parents and guardians have an opportunity to review materials to be used and provide information on excluding their child from sexual health education instruction. Per procedure 2125 they are given a minimum of one month prior to instruction to review materials and lessons. Our fifth grade human growth and development curriculum and our lessons for middle school and high school are publicly available for review on this webpage, along with the instructions for opting your child out.

Information for Parents and Families 

A sexual health education informational video on classroom lessons for parents - an informational video created by Certified Health Education Specialist, Erin Montgomery, for families to explain what sexual health in our classrooms includes and how questions are answered.

Informational video providing an overview of the lessons taught at grades 5, middle school, and high school - a video and powerpoint showing what is taught, how it aligns to state requirements, and examples of how questions are asked in the classrooms.  [note, this was created for the 21-22 school year, please disregard the reference to remote learning]

Letter Home - prior to instruction a message will be sent from the school or classroom to allow parents the opportunity to preview lessons and materials.

Opt-out process

After reviewing the materials above and in the curriculum section below, you may wish to not have your child not take part in the sexual health lessons at their school.  If so,  please email your teacher and principal  to opt-out of sexual health education for your child.


Fifth grade

Structure: Fifth grade teachers schedule sexual health education lessons for their classes, to take place in the spring.   We partner with a community health educator to help present three lessons to each 5th grade class.

Curriculum:  Lessons from KNOW and FLASH, two curricula on the state approved list, are used in grade 5.

Lessons: Lesson 1 (Puberty) and Lesson 2 (Hygiene) are from the FLASH curriculum. Lesson 3 on HIV is from the KNOW curriculum. Lesson plans can be found here:          

Puberty & Hygiene


Video used in one of the grade 5 lessons:  Always Changing and Growing Up/ Co-Ed Puberty Education Video

PowerPoints: Slides to be shared with students for each lesson are available here. Please note, lesson slides are combined into one PowerPoint file.

Additional resources: Video prepared by OSPI summer 2020 to support HIV lesson. In our classrooms we ask that student watch a 5 minute section, from 5:37-9:14.

Middle School

Structure: In middle school, health and physical educators teach sexual health education as part of health and PE.

Curriculum:  The FLASH curriculum is used for middle school lessons.  Lessons are adapted to create four lessons per grade level.  In grade 8, lesson 2 also uses materials from the 3 R's curriculum.


Middle School Sexual Health Lessons:  Each grade has four lessons from the FLASH curriculum, with suggested adaptations. In addition, each grade level has lesson plans which are created from multiple FLASH* lessons and mirror OSPI’s Health Education standards for each grade level.  (Note: *Lesson 8.2 also uses the 3Rs Curriculum from Advocates For Youth.)

Sixth Grade Teacher Lesson Plans:
Seventh Grade Teacher Lesson Plans:
Eighth Grade Teacher Lesson Plans:

High School

Structure: Every student is required to take one semester of Health to graduate. In our district, we encourage students to take Health in their 9th grade year.

Curriculum: Bellingham Public Schools high school health uses parts of the FLASH curriculum as the basis of the sexual health education unit. FLASH is a curriculum created by King County Public Health and is in wide use in Washington State.  A generic overview of topics in the High School FLASH curriculum can viewed online in a letter to parents (Spanish).  In addition, King County, who created the FLASH curriculum, has a preview video that provides a FLASH overview, lesson summaries, learning objectives, and classroom activities.

Lessons:  High School health teachers will communicate directly to students and families about the parts of the FLASH curriculum they will use in Health class prior to instruction.  Many times health classes have the Whatcom County Teen Council students as guest teachers for lessons on protection, consent, and gender identity and sexual orientation.

Teacher Lesson Plans:

Dr. Charisse Berner
Director, Curriculum
Teaching and Learning

Cathy Allred
Administrative Assistant