- Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
- Executive Office of Education
Media Contact for Healey-Driscoll Administration Proposes Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Framework
Karissa Hand, Press Secretary
Boston — Governor Maura T. Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler and DESE Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley today announced that their administration is proposing an updated draft of the comprehensive health and physical education curriculum framework to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) this month. The LGBTQ+ inclusive, medically accurate and developmentally- and age-appropriate framework outlines guidelines for health and physical education for preK-12 public school students in Massachusetts and would revise DESE’s existing Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework, which was last updated in 1999.
“As the proud daughter of a school nurse and health and sex education teacher, I believe strongly that all students deserve inclusive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate health guidelines,” said Governor Healey. “All of our students benefit when they learn from up-to-date, evidence-based material grounded in science. These new guidelines will empower students with the skills they need to build healthy lives in school and beyond.”
“I am grateful to the health experts, educators, and DESE team members for all the work they have put into this draft framework to ensure guidelines are scientifically accurate, reflective of best practices according to experts in the field, and age-appropriate for each grade span.” said Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll. “By providing our students with cutting-edge best practices around health and wellness, we can better prepare the next generation for lifelong health.”
“This is exactly the right time to move this framework forward. Our education system is still recovering from the lasting impacts of the pandemic, and this new framework will provide students and educators access to modern, scientifically-backed practices for achieving mental and physical health,” said Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler. “I’m proud of DESE and the effort of all the students, educators, administrators, health experts, and other stakeholders who collaborated to deliver such high-quality guidelines for our students.”
The draft updated Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Framework incorporates modern understanding of the importance of health and wellness to outline appropriate expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each stage of their education, with strategies to enhance their own mental, emotional and physical health along the way. The framework includes mental and emotional health; personal safety, including safety from gun violence; physical health and hygiene; healthy relationships, including safety from dating violence, nutrition and balanced eating; physical activity and fitness; substance use and misuse; gender, sexual orientation, and sexual health; and public, community, and environmental health.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, at its regular meeting on June 27, will hear a presentation on the draft framework and vote on whether to send it out for public comment. If the Board votes to do so, educators, parents, advocates and members of the public will have 60 days to comment on the draft framework. After the public comment period, DESE will consider the feedback and bring the draft back to the Board for a vote on adoption.
“I’m pleased to bring this draft to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for their consideration, and I’m recommending that they send the draft out for public comment,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley. “School districts have discretion to determine how the standards will be implemented at the local level. We hope the framework will be a resource of lasting value for schools and districts.”
The draft Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Framework is just the latest of DESE’s curriculum frameworks to be updated. (In 2021, DESE went through a similar process updating the World Language Framework.) As with all frameworks, school districts will decide at the local level which curriculum and materials educators will use to teach the skills included in the voluntary health framework. Additionally, under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71 Section 32A, parents have the right to opt out their children from lessons related to sex education, a small portion of the knowledge covered in the Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Framework.
The Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Framework draft can be accessed here.
Statements of Support:
Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan and Assistant Majority Whip Julian Cyr, Co-Chairs of the LGBTQ+ Caucus
"An outdated health education framework in Massachusetts fails to provide our next generation with the knowledge and tools they need to make safe choices and foster healthy relationships, especially for LGBTQ+ youth. The LGBTQ+ Legislative Caucus is profoundly grateful for Governor Healey's initiative to move this evidence-based framework forward — it’s long overdue! All youth deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate, and inclusive health resources. Today’s actions will help future generations live informed and healthy lives.”
Representative Alice Peisch, Assistant House Majority Leader
“I am pleased to see that the updated health frameworks recommended by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provide a robust and inclusive expansion to the curriculum for Massachusetts public school students. It is critical that our children receive up-to-date information regarding healthy relationships, equity, and wellness in order to thrive in both the classroom and our communities. These updated frameworks will help to ensure that the Commonwealth remains a national leader in public education.”
Representative Jim O’Day, Fourth Division Leader
“I sincerely thank Governor Healey and her administration for appreciating the importance of comprehensive, inclusive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex and relationship education. This has been over a decade in the making and I am thrilled to know that our youth and future generations will finally get the tools they need to build healthy relationships with themselves and others.”
Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee
"I'm delighted that DESE is ready to move forward with releasing an updated health curriculum framework for our public schools. Much has changed since the framework was last updated and it is vital for educators to have the latest, evidence-based health guidelines as they help our students live healthier lives. I'm grateful to all the health educators and other health experts who worked together for years to update this curriculum framework."
State Representative Denise Garlick, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education
“Today’s students can be in a stew of misinformation from a variety of unreliable sources, including social media. The most important thing we can do to protect our students’ health and promote their wellbeing is to ensure that they are receiving developmentally appropriate, medically accurate information from reliable sources. As a Registered Nurse and a legislator, I am pleased to see DESE proposing an updated health and physical education curriculum framework.”
State Representative Marjorie Decker House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health
"It is great news to know that children in every zip code and every neighborhood in Massachusetts will be provided with accurate health education, allowing them to make informed choices for protecting themselves while contributing to the overall public health of each of our communities. This is a great day for Massachusetts families and schoolchildren across the Commonwealth."
Chair of Senate Bills in Third Reading, State Senator Sal DiDomenico
“It is great news for our state that the Healey Administration is updating DESE’s outdated health and physical education framework to provide our students with sex and relationship education that is inclusive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate. As lead sponsor of the Healthy Youth Act bill, I take great pride in the health and well-being of our students and see this framework update as the natural progression toward passage and implementation of my legislation. I want to thank the Governor and her team for making this a priority, ensuring our students can protect their health, form respectful relationships, and build the bright futures they deserve.”
State Representative Vanna Howard
"This framework will enable and empower all of our children, by making critical information, education, and resources available to them so that they can make decisions necessary to build loving and healthy relationships with others and to recognize, and avoid, those situations and decisions that do not. Just as importantly, it will arm our children with real information on issues related to violence and mistreatment, as well as sexually transmitted diseases. This framework is for our public schools that are currently offering sex and relationship education to ensure the curricula are medically accurate, age-appropriate, and LGBTQ-inclusive and a curriculum that 21st Century standards." -said
Polly Crozier, Director of Family Advocacy, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defender
“Comprehensive, consent-focused, LGBTQ+-inclusive health education is critical to supporting students’ mental and physical wellbeing and empowering young people to make informed, health-promoting choices. The 2023 Health and Physical Education Framework emphasizes reliance on accurate sources, incorporation of diverse perspectives to ensure all students’ identities are reflected, and collaboration with parents and community - including the importance of recognizing the many different types of families that exist in the Commonwealth. This new framework provides a much-needed update that will promote supportive and inclusive learning environments and benefit the health and wellbeing of all Massachusetts students.”
Rebecca Hart Holder, President of Reproductive Equity Now
“As extremists continue to wage attacks on health care, trans kids, and the lessons we teach in the classroom, ensuring that Massachusetts leads with sexual health education that is medically accurate, LGBTQ+ inclusive, and age-appropriate has never been more important. The Healey-Driscoll administration is making Massachusetts values clear: our schools will be places where students feel protected, loved, and accepted. Our educators will give students the tools and support to make safe and healthy decisions about their reproductive lives, and provide them with honest and accurate education to help them navigate an increasingly hostile and confusing world. Today’s announcement to update the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Comprehensive Health Education Framework is key to setting Massachusetts students up for success.”
Ellen Frank, Interim CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
“We are thrilled that the Healey Administration is offering a comprehensive update to the health education framework that aligns with the goals of the Healthy Youth Act and will ensure students receiving sex education are given the facts and tools to make safe, healthy decisions. Sex and relationship education that is medically accurate, age appropriate, consent-based and LGBTQ-inclusive is proven to improve young people's overall health, improve their performance in school, and it reduces rates of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and dating violence. We are grateful to Governor Healey for taking this important and long-overdue step to support young people, and we urge the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve this new framework."
Dr. Rebecca Shangraw, Senior Lecturer of Physical Education at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development
“Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility to provide Massachusetts students with comprehensive health education that focuses on the skills required to survive and thrive in fast-moving, ever-changing 21st century environments. Aligned with national health and physical education standards, these frameworks teach students skills related to social-emotional wellbeing, careful decision-making, analysis of outside influences, and maintenance of physical health. If approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, these dynamic frameworks will make Massachusetts a national leader in health and physical education curriculum.”
Jessica Tang, President, Boston Teachers Union
“We are heartened to see long overdue changes and updates to the K-12 health frameworks that are inclusive of all students and responsive to their needs, ranging from physical health to social emotional wellness. These recommendations affirm our commitment to safe and welcoming schools for all.”
Alia Cusolito, student advocate at Old Rochester Regional High School
“It is extremely important to me, my peers, teachers, and parents that students are taught comprehensive sex education. Updating our curriculum is vital to raising healthy youth.”
Max Page, President of the MTA and Deb McCarthy, Vice President
"The members of the MTA applaud Governor Healey’s work to not only recognize the value of health and physical education but to also make sure that every student is able to truly benefit from health education programs. In a time when the rights of LGBTQ+ youth are under constant attack, Governor Healey’s inclusive proposal puts students on the right track toward social, emotional and physical health and broadens awareness on how to best meet the needs of all students."