Curriculum Committee Summary


Public Act 101-0506, also known as the MHDD CD-DD Sex Education Act (405 ILCS 5/4-211) provides that "the Department of Human Services shall approve course material in sex education." It also "establishes standards for the course materials and instruction."

In order to comply with the new law, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Developmental Disabilities, together with the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission formed an ad hoc Oversight Workgroup made up of disability service providers, DHS and other government representatives, disability advocacy organizations, self-advocates and other key stakeholders.

The Oversight Workgroup formed two subcommittees: 1) a Curriculum committee and 2) a Process committee to assist in the implementation of the new law. The Curriculum committee was tasked to review sex education course materials and resources in order to provide guidance to DHS in its duty to establish standards and approve course materials. The Curriculum committee is made up of members of the Oversight Workgroup, as well as additional members representing disability organizations, self-advocates and other key stakeholders. Curriculum committee members are listed at the end of this Summary document. For questions related to the Oversight Workgroup and/or subcommittee structure and membership, please contact Kathy Ward, DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities or Teresa Parks, Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission.

Review Process:

  1. The Curriculum committee identified seven sexuality education curricula designed for educating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Committee members started their review by looking at how each curriculum complied with the specific content provisions laid out in the law. (see Curricula below)
    1. There are nine provisions specified in the law. Two provisions lay out key definitions and seven concern specific content. The committee divided one of the seven content provisions into two areas, for clarity. This led to eight specific content provisions to be reviewed. (see Content chart below)
    2. The committee created definitions for the two provisions referencing "developmentally appropriate" materials and "evidence-based" programs. (see Definitions below)
    3. The committee developed a review tool to evaluate the strengths and approach of each of the 7 curricula, thereby ensuring a transparent process of review.
  2. In addition to the 7 curricula, the committee has compiled an extensive list of Resources that includes: Symbol Accessibility
    • websites,
    • books/periodicals/articles,
    • podcasts,
    • videos
    • additional handbooks and guides
    • Spanish-language resources

Plain language and accessible resources will be identified using a Green Thumbs Up symbol.

  1. The DHS Division on Developmental Disabilities sent an informational bulletin on November 25, 2019, requesting providers to send any materials currently in use for sex education and assessment. Seven providers and other key stakeholders responded with suggestions and recommendations. These suggestions have been incorporated into the work of the Curriculum committee.
  2. The Oversight workgroup asked the Illinois Self-Advocacy Alliance to hold focus groups with self-advocates around the state. The feedback gathered includes:
    • information about healthy relationships/sexuality they want to learn
    • type of access to education and related resources they want
    • how they would like healthy relationships classes to be structured
    • what involvement in reviewing, selection, and presenting the curriculum they would like to have
    • what education/resources on healthy relationships/sexuality has been received in the past and what was liked or disliked
  3. The Oversight workgroup has asked Curriculum committee members to serve in a continuing capacity to support DHS' efforts to review materials and resources.


  1. Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH) - Special Education
    • Sexual health education curriculum developed by Public Health of Seattle and King County. Designed to be used in secondary education for students in special education.
  2. Friendships and Dating Program
    • A 10 week curriculum developed by the University of Alaska Center for Human Development. This comprehensive, evidence-based program focuses on teaching individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities about meaningful relationships and the prevention of interpersonal violence.
  3. Illinois Imagines
    • Sexual Violence Education and Picture Supplement Guide (and related resources) developed by the Illinois Imagines project and housed on the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault website. NOTE: Although the materials state it is for Women with Disabilities, content can be adapted for any person with a disability.
  4. Sex Ed for People with IDD - NCIL
    • National Council on Independent Living sex education curriculum includes ten videos with self-advocates talking about important topics like healthy relationships, consent, sexual anatomy, sexually transmitted infections and more.
  5. Sexuality Education for Adults with Developmental Disabilities - Elevatus Training
    • A comprehensive sexuality education curriculum developed by sexuality educator, Katherine McLaughlin in collaboration with Green Mountain Self Advocates of Vermont.
  6. WEAVE (Working to End Assault and Violence for Everyone)
    • A 17 lesson Healthy Relationships curriculum developed by a sexual assault program in Michigan, together with disability service providers. All lesson plans can be downloaded for free from the website.
  7. We Can Stop Abuse - Sandy Laesch and Shirley Paceley
    • NOTE: currently out of print. This curriculum was included in the review because some providers have copies and use it in their sexuality education program.

Content Chart:

"Course material and instruction in sex education shall":
1.  Present identity as a part of mature adulthood 2. Place substantial emphasis on the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and diseases. 
3.  Provide information on the use or effectiveness of condoms in preventing pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections and diseases 4.  Stress that abstinence is the ensured method of avoiding unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and diseases, including HIV/AIDS
5.  Discussion of possible emotional and psychological consequences of sexual intercourse and the consequences of unwanted pregnancy 6.  Stress that sexually transmitted infections and diseases are serious possible health hazards of unwanted pregnancy
7.  Teach recipients to avoid behavior that could be interpreted as unwanted sexual advances, and how to reject unwanted sexual advances 8.  Explain signs of possible dangers from potential predators


  1. Developmentally appropriate - An approach to educating that respects the specific needs of each participant by centering the program material and techniques used to convey that material to the abilities of the participant, cognitively, physically, and emotionally.
  1. Evidence-based practice - Evidence-based practice integrates three components: 1) best research evidence, 2) professional (clinical) experience and ethics, and 3) the individual's culture, values and preferences. These 3 components work together to guide and inform the delivery of services."

Curriculum Committee membership:

  • Co-chairs:

Sean Black, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Linda Sandman, Blue Tower Solutions, Inc.

  • Members:

 Tara Ahern, Illinois Self-Advocacy Alliance

 Krescene Beck, Blue Tower Solutions, Inc.

 Carlette Corriah-Wynter, Misericordia

 Jae Jin Pak, UIC Institute on Disability and Human Development

Teresa Parks, Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission

Bob Peterson, Self-Advocate, Arc of Illinois Member

Amanda Ruff, DD Homes Network

405 ILCS 5/4-211 requires the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to approve course material in sex education. The factors IDHS must consider in approving the sex education material are set forth is 405 ILCS 5/211 (a)-(i). The Department may not withhold approval of materials that otherwise meet the criteria specified in this Section on the basis that they include or refer to a religious or faith based perspective. The Committee established a process to review and approve the sex education material to assess whether it met the standards outlined in the statute. The IDHS approved the sex education materials listed below. The sex education materials may change to include other materials submitted, evaluated and approved by the Committee. Disclaimer-IDHS has approved a list of all the sex education materials listed on this website. IDHS does not favor one particular set of sex education materials over another nor does their order of appearance in the list constitute any particular favor by IDHS.