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Working to Institutionalize Sex Education (WISE)


EyesOpenIowa believes that all young people deserve to have comprehensive and medically-accurate sexual health information.


The Working to Institutionalize Sex Ed (WISE) Initiative is a nationwide effort to support schools in implementing high quality sex education. You can learn more about WISE work nationally here. EyesOpenIowa has managed the WISE Iowa Project since 2009 and supports school districts in adopting, implementing and institutionalizing sex education programs that are comprehensive, research-informed, medically accurate, and age-appropriate in compliance with the Human Growth and Development Mandate/Iowa Code 279.50.


Is Your School WISE?

WISE Iowa works collaboratively with school district administration and staff to develop and implement high quality sex education that is planned, sequential, and part of a comprehensive school health education approach.

As a WISE school partner, districts receive assistance:

  • Assessing school sex ed policies and practices
  • Selecting an evidence-based sex ed curriculum that meets the local needs of the school and the students they serve
  • Technical assistance and support for sex ed program implementation
  • Customized professional development for staff teaching sex ed on best practices for instruction and related topics
  • Access to certified training on a number of evidence-based curricula.

To learn more about getting involved with the WISE program, please contact WISE Program Manager Kirsten Brown!


Why Focus on Sex Ed at School?

We know that schools play an essential role in helping students achieve and lead successful, healthy lives.. Public opinion polls of parents of middle school students also show that 93% believe it is very important or somewhat important to have sex education included as part of school curriculum. 91% of parents of high school students agree. Additionally, research shows that young people who are prepared to make responsible, informed decisions about their sexual health are more likely to succeed in school, achieve meaningful interpersonal relationships, and envision positive futures for themselves.

The WISE program provides support to school districts so they can create high quality sex education programs that are sustainable, comply with Iowa Code, and best meet students’ needs, both now and in the future.


Core Components of Effective, High Quality Sex Ed

Effective, high quality sex ed provides medically-accurate, comprehensive, and age-appropriate information about a broad range of topics, including:

  • Consent and interpersonal and sexual violence
  • Contraception, pregnancy, and reproduction

  • Gender identity and expression

  • Healthy relationships

  • HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • Anatomy and physiology

  • Sexual identity and orientation


High quality sex ed also provides youth with opportunities to explore their own values and the values of their families and communities. Additionally, young people are able to practice the communication, negotiation, decision-making, and assertiveness skills needed to create healthy relationships – both sexual and non-sexual – throughout their lives.


Research shows that sex education programs that provide instruction on the above topics help young people by:

  • Delaying the onset of sexual activity
  • Reducing the number of sexual partners
  • Reducing the frequency of sexual activity
  • Increasing academic achievement and decreasing dropout
  • Increasing use of condoms and other contraceptives


Youth who receive sex education that is comprehensive in scope are NOT more likely to increase sexual activity. Learn more about sex education research outcomes here from Advocates for Youth.


To find out more about WISE, download our informational brochure.

Any questions? Email Kirsten Brown, WISE Program Manager, or call the office on 515-276-6788