Students for Comprehensive Sexuality Education
Ohio’s Rules

The Ohio Specific Case
Education is among the most localized aspects of government. While there is a federal Department of Education, much education policy is dictated at the state and local level. There are many state requirements, but other aspects of a student’s education are very different depending on the school district in which he or she happens to live.

When discussing the issue of health education, there are aspects which relate to the Ohio Department of Education, aspects which relate to the Ohio Department of Health and plenty of others which relate to neither or both.

Unlike 48 other states, Ohio has no health education standards, Why? There seem to be two main reasons: (1) such guidelines require the approval of the Ohio General Assembly and have been s subject of controversy in the past, and (2) health education is not a subject matter included in Ohio’s current standardized testing.

Recently, however, an effort led by the Buckeye Healthy School Alliance has been launched to establish state health education standards.

It is important to understand that the proposed new standards are about skill development for youth and do NOT focus on specific content areas. Health education content would remain under the authority of local school boards. The proposed standards can be reviewed at

Ohio is a strong “Home Rule” state. This means that local boards of education have a great deal of power in terms of setting policy for their students. With hundreds of districts, it is virtually impossible to keep up with all the different policies and practices of each district. Thanks to the state report cards, though, some aspects are fairly standardized. The number of days in a school year, the amount of hours in a school day, the qualifications teachers must have, and many other matters are pretty standard. A standard health curricula, unfortunately, is not one of those things

Every school district in the State of Ohio, with one exception—Cleveland—has an elected board of education. That board is charged with setting policy and hiring the superintendent and treasurer for the district. However, because the superintendent is an education professional with years of preparation for his or her position, the board of education often relies heavily on his or her recommendations. It is unusual for a board of education to play a substantial role in determining curricula or for community members to engage around suggesting a particular curricula or policy surrounding it.

Sometimes what it typical goes out the window when sex education is involved! This has been an area where some school boards have played an active role in setting district policy so it is important to work with both local superintendents and boards on this issue. Here we are with this ToolKit to help!