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)

High School-Specific Programs

Health Education Focus Schools

We work closely with 26 New York City high schools on strategies and solutions to promote adolescent health and school-based HIV/STD prevention. These schools have additional resources to focus on:

  • High-quality sexual health education
  • Strong Condom Availability Programs and access to sexual health services
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ students

Email healthed@schools.nyc.gov for more information. The 2017-18 Health Education Focus Schools are:

  • 01M696 Bard High School Early College
  • 02M507 Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology
  • 03M403 The Global Learning Collaborative
  • 03M494 High School of Arts and Technology
  • 04M372 Esperanza Preparatory Academy
  • 06M423 High School for Excellence and Innovation
  • 07X381 Bronx Haven High School
  • 07X557 Mott Haven Community High School
  • 10X237 The Marie Curie School for Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions
  • 10X284 Bronx School of Law and Finance
  • 10X433 High School for Teaching and the Professions
  • 10X442 Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music
  • 13K616 Brooklyn High School for Leadership & Community Service
  • 14K474 PROGRESS High School for Professional Careers
  • 14K477 East Williamsburg Scholars Academy (FKA School for Legal Studies)
  • 14K478 The High School for Enterprise, Business and Technology
  • 15K592 Khalil Gibran International Academy
  • 19K510 World Academy for Total Community Health High School
  • 21K525 Edward R. Murrow High School
  • 27Q262 Channel View School for Research
  • 27Q480 John Adams High School
  • 28Q896 Young Women's Leadership School, Queens
  • 29Q259 Pathways College Preparatory School: A College Board School
  • 31R445 Port Richmond High School
  • 32K168 The Brooklyn School for Math and Research
  • 75K373 K373 Brooklyn Transitional Center

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:

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