State Policies on Sex Education in Schools

3/21/2019

Why Is Sexual Education Taught in Schools?

ClassroomA 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey indicates that more than 47 percent of all high school students say they have had sex, and 15 percent of high school students have had sex with four or more partners during their lifetime. Among students who had sex in the three months prior to the survey, 60 percent reported condom use and 23 percent reported birth control pill use during their last sexual encounter

Sexual activity has consequences. Though the teen birth rate has declined to its lowest levels since data collection began, the United States still has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world. Roughly 1 in 4 girls will become pregnant at least once by their 20th birthday.

Teenage mothers are less likely to finish high school and are more likely than their peers to live in poverty, depend on public assistance, and be in poor health. Their children are more likely to suffer health and cognitive disadvantages, come in contact with the child welfare and correctional systems, live in poverty, drop out of high school and become teen parents themselves. These costs add up, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which estimates that teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $9.4 billion annually

Adolescents are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Young people ages 15 to 24 represent 25 percent of the sexually active population, but acquire half of all new STIs, which amounts to 9.8 million new cases a year. About 3.2 million adolescent females are infected with at least one of the most common STIs.

Human papillomavirus is the most common STI among teens; some estimates find that up to 35 percent of teens ages 14 to 19 have HPV. Girls age 15 to 19 have the highest rates of Gonorrhea and the second highest rate of Chlamydia of any age group. Young males also get STIs, but their infections often are undiagnosed and unreported because they are less likely to have symptoms or seek medical care.

The most recent data available, in 2000, indicates the estimated direct medical costs for treating young people with sexually transmitted infections was $6.5 billion annually, excluding costs associated with HIV/AIDS. In 2011, approximately 24 percent of new HIV diagnoses were young people age 13 to 24.

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2016 Sex Education Legislation
Bill Tracking- 12/21/2016
STATE BILL | SUMMARY | STATUS
Alaska  HB 156  Requires local school boards to adopt policies to promote the involvement of parents in the school district’s education program, in consultation with parents, teachers and school administrators. Among other requirements, the policies must allow parents to object to and withdraw a child from an activity, class or program. The policies must also include a procedure for notifying parents at least two weeks before any activity, class or program with content involving human reproduction or sexual matters is provided to a child. Sex education, human reproduction education and human sexuality education curriculum and materials must be approved by the school board and available for parents to review. In addition, sets requirements for those who teach sex education, human reproduction education or human sexuality education. Enacted.  

Arizona

SB 1020 Amends existing law to allow school districts to provide sex education instruction unless a parent provides written permission for a student to opt out of instruction. Requires that school districts provide sex education that is medically accurate and age and developmentally appropriate in grades kindergarten through 12. Creates additional requirements for sex education, including the importance of using effective contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Education requirements also include information to support students in developing healthy relationships and skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. Requires the Department of Education, among other things, to develop list of appropriate curricula and create rules for instructor qualifications. Failed- Adjourned. 

 

HB 2410 Amends existing law to allow school districts to provide sex education instruction unless a parent provides written permission for a student to opt out of instruction. Requires that school districts provide sex education that is medically accurate and age and developmentally appropriate in grades kindergarten through 12. Creates additional requirements for sex education, including teaching the benefits of delaying sexual activity and stressing importance of using effective contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Education requirements also include information to support students in developing healthy relationships and skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. Requires the Department of Education, among other things, to develop list of appropriate curricula and create rules for instructor qualifications. Failed- Adjourned.

California

AB 517 Amends the State Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Act that authorizes school districts to provide sexual health education that include HIV/AIDS prevention education. Requires district that elect to provide education taught by outside consultants, or elect hold to an assembly to deliver such education by guest speakers, to request written permission from a pupil's parent or guardian. Prohibits a student's attendance without such permission. Authorizes related alternative education. Failed.

Colorado

SB 146 Updates existing law related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to apply provisions that previously only applied to HIV to all STIs. A new definition is established to include HIV and relevant types of hepatitis in the STI definition. The bill includes that accurate, age-appropriate and culturally responsive STI prevention curricula shall be provided to schools. Enacted. 

Florida

HB 859/ SB 1056 Requires each public school that offers programs regarding human sexuality, including family planning, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted infections prevention, including the prevention of HIV and AIDS, to provide comprehensive, medically accurate, and factual information that is developmentally and age appropriate. Provides that a student may be excused from the portion of a program or class upon written request by the student's parent or guardian. Failed.

Georgia

HB 406 Requires age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in kindergarten through grade 12. Also provides that professional learning and in-service training may include programs on sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention. Failed- Adjourned.

Hawaii

 

HB 459 / SB 395 Amends existing sexuality health education law to specify additional requirements for information that helps students form healthy relationships and communication skills, as well as critical thinking, decision making and stress management skills, and encourages students to communicate with adults. Requires all public schools to implement sex education consistent with these requirements beginning in 2016-2017. Allows written permission by parental or legal guardian to opt out of sexuality education. Allows the Department of Education to make modifications to ensure age-appropriate curricula in elementary school. Requires the Department to maintain a public list of curricula that meets requirements of law and to create standards for instructor qualifications. House Version: Failed-Adjourned; Senate Version: Failed. 

 

HB 595 Amends existing sexuality health education law to specify additional requirements for information that helps students form healthy relationships and communication skills, as well as critical thinking, decision making and stress management skills, and encourages students to communicate with adults. Allows written permission by parental or legal guardian to opt out of sexuality education. Allows the Department of Education to make modifications to ensure age-appropriate curricula in elementary school. Requires the Board of Education to collaborate with the Department to maintain a public list of curricula that meets requirements of law. Requires the Department to create standards for instructor qualifications. Failed.

Kansas

HB 2199 Requires parental consent for sexuality education and provides that sexuality education materials will be available for parental review. Also requires the boards of education of each school district to adopt policies and procedures related to sexuality education, including prohibiting the distribution of materials to any student whose parent has not consented. Failed- Adjourned.

Massachusetts

HB 3754 Requires each school district or public school that offers sexual health education to provide medically accurate, age-appropriate education that teaches the benefits of abstinence and delaying sexual activity in conjunction with contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. Provides that sexual health education should help students develop the relationship and communication skills to form healthy relationships free of violence, coercion, and intimidation. Requires the school to adopt a written policy ensuring parental or legal guardian notification of the comprehensive sexual health education and the right of the parent or legal guardian to withdraw his or her child from all or part of the instruction shall be adopted. Pending- Carryover.

SB 2062 Requires every city, town, regional school district, vocational school district or charter school with a curriculum on human sexuality to adopt a written policy ensuring parental or legal guardian notification of the comprehensive sexual health education provided by the school, the right of the parent to withdraw a student from instruction and the notification process to the school for withdrawal. Provides that sexual education shall be medically accurate, age-appropriate education that teaches the benefits of abstinence and delaying sexual activity in conjunction with contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. Also stipulates that education should help students develop the relationship and communication skills to form healthy relationships free of violence, coercion, and intimidation. Provides that the department of elementary and secondary education shall establish age-appropriate guidelines for child exploitation awareness education. Pending- Carryover.

Michigan

HB 1403/ SB 512 Requires that material and instruction in sex education shall teach pupils that in order for consent to be given by both parties to sexual activity it must be affirmative consent and includes the definition of “affirmative consent.” House Version: Pending; Senate Version: Pending.

HB 4859/SB 467 Provides for age-appropriate, medically accurate, and objective sexuality education in public schools. Provides that factual information includes medical, psychiatric, psychological, empirical, and statistical statements. House Version: Pending; Senate Version: Pending.

Mississippi

HB 756 Requires sex-related education to consist of medically accurate comprehensive instruction or program. Requires certain teaching components including the appropriate approaches to accessing health care services related to the human reproductive system, and health complications resulting from consensual or nonconsensual sexual activity and available resources for victims of rape, sexual assault or other instances of nonconsensual sexual activity. Failed.

SB 2413 Revises the curriculum on sex-related education and requires the local school board of each school district to implement a program on personal responsibility education into the middle and high school curriculum. Requires that curriculum selected must have been deemed evidence based and medically accurate by the Mississippi State Department of Health. Stipulates that the curriculum must include information that abstinence from sexual activity is the only way to prevent unintended pregnancy. Requires that the school shall provide a written consent form to the parent/guardian of every student eligible to participate in the program and asks the parent/guardian if they choose for their child to participate. Failed.

HB 932 Revises the requirement and standards of curriculum to be used in public school districts for the teaching of sex education and removes the requirement that such program be abstinence only. Provides that the required policy to be adopted to implement sex education shall be comprehensive in nature and provide medically accurate, complete, age and developmentally appropriate information. Failed.

HB 992 Revises the curriculum on sex-related education and requires the local school board of each school district to implement a program on personal responsibility education into the middle and high school curriculum. Requires that curriculum selected must have been deemed evidence based and medically accurate by the Mississippi State Department of Health. Stipulates that the curriculum must include information that abstinence from sexual activity is the only way to prevent unintended pregnancy. Requires that the school shall provide a written consent form to the parent/guardian of every student eligible to participate in the program and requires a signature from the parent or legal guardian. Failed.

SB 2594 Requires Mississippi school districts to adopt a sex education curriculum that includes medically accurate, complete, age and developmentally appropriate information and to provide information about the prevention of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), dating violence, sexual assault, bullying and harassment. Stipulates that the curriculum shall promote and uphold the rights of young people to information in order to make healthy and responsible decisions about their sexual health. Failed.

Missouri

HB 1905 Amends laws related to sex education in schools. In addition to existing criteria of medically and factually accurate, requires that curricula must also be age appropriate and based on peer review. Adds stipulations to cover certain topics, including helping students develop critical thinking, decision making, and stress management skills in order to support healthy relationships. Specifies that curricula promote communication with parents. Failed- Adjourned.

 

SB 713 Creates the Teen Dating Violence Prevention Education Act to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and information to prevent and respond to teen dating violence. Authorizes school districts and charter schools to provide teen dating violence education as part of the sexual health and health education program in grades seven through 12 and to establish a related curriculum or materials. Also allows age appropriate instruction on domestic violence. Failed- Adjourned.

Nebraska

LR 334 Designates an interim study be conducted to look at the link between academic achievement and risky health behaviors and to identify specific strategies in schools proven to simultaneously address and improve both academic achievement and health outcomes. Specifically looks at comprehensive sex education and how it can promote healthy attitudes on adolescent growth and positively affect adolescent behavior. Failed – Adjourned.

New York

 

AB 1037 Amends existing education law to add prevention of sexual abuse and assault to health education in all public schools. Requires instruction to be based on current practice and standards and to include recognizing, avoiding, refusing and reporting sexual abuse and assault. Establishes teacher training and standards for type of teacher who can instruct in elementary and secondary school. Pending.

 

AB 1616 / SB 700 Establishes an age-appropriate sex education grant program through the Department of Health. Requires that applicants teach information that is medically accurate and age appropriate and does not teach religion. Makes provisions for other components, which are not required but may not be contradicted by applicants, including instruction that: teaches and stresses abstinence as well as provides information about contraceptives, teaches skills that support development of healthy life skills and decision making skills, and encourages communication with parents, among other things. Authorizes the commissioner to determine certain topics of instruction to be optional for age-appropriate reasons. Assembly Version: Pending; Senate Version: Pending.

 

SB 1889 Establishes an age-appropriate sex education grant program through the Department of Health. Requires that applicants teach information that is medically accurate and age appropriate and does not teach religion. Makes provisions for other components, which are not required but may not be contradicted by applicants, including instruction that: teaches and stresses abstinence as well as provides information about contraceptives, teaches skills that support development of healthy life skills and decision making skills, and encourages communication with parents, among other things. Authorizes the commissioner to determine certain topics of instruction to be optional for age-appropriate reasons. Includes the legislative intent of the bill. Pending.

 

SB 905 Mandates comprehensive, medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education be taught in grades one through 12 in all public schools. Provides that the Commissioner of Education will create and establish a curriculum to accomplish such goal within one year of the effective date of this legislation. Allows boards of education to adopt their own curricula with approval of Commissioner of Education.  Pending.

 

AB 9261 Mandates comprehensive, medically accurate and age appropriate sex education be taught in all public schools, grades one through twelve; provides that the commissioner of education will create and establish a curriculum to accomplish such goal within a specified timeframe. Pending.

North Carolina

HB 29 Repeals existing health education statute. Requires the same comprehensive health education and reproductive health education as existing law. Makes organizational to language of law. Failed- Adjourned.

 

HB 596 Amends the expertise required for review and acceptance of materials used in reproductive health and safety education and prohibits teaching about certain drugs as part of reproductive health and safety education. Failed- Adjourned.

Ohio

SB 101/HB 132 Requires the board of education to include sexually transmitted infection prevention education, including HIV/AIDS prevention education, within the prescribed curriculum for all schools. Prescribes that instruction shall stress abstinence but shall not exclude other instruction and materials on contraceptive methods and infection reduction measures, and that instruction shall be medically accurate and age-appropriate. Requires each school district to notify the parent or guardian of each pupil about instruction in comprehensive sexual health education and HIV/AIDS prevention education. Allows for the excusal from any such class if the school has received a written request from the pupil's parent or guardian. Senate Version: Pending- Carryover; House Version: Pending- Carryover.

Oklahoma

HB 1507 Provides that school districts may provide programs to students in grades 7 through 12 addressing sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking awareness and prevention. The programs may address the issue of consent to sexual activity and educate students about the affirmative consent standard. Programs may be offered as a separate program or as a part of a sex education class or program. The program outline shall be made available to the public online through the school district website. No student shall be required to participate in the program if a parent or guardian objects in writing. Failed- Adjourned.

 

HB 2721 Requires sex education curriculum to be medically accurate, factual information that is age-appropriate and designed to reduce risk factors and behavior associated with unintended pregnancy. Failed- Adjourned.

Pennsylvania SB 1338 Requires public school districts to provide sexual health education. Instruction and materials must be age appropriate and all information presented must be medically accurate. Also stipulates certain content that the sexual health education must include, such as information on sexting and affirmative consent. Failed- Adjourned.  

South Carolina

HB 3447/ SB 574 Amends existing law related to comprehensive health education in schools to include that instruction must be medically accurate. Also requires school districts to publish on its website the title and author of health education materials used.  House Version: Failed- Adjourned; Senate Version: Failed- Adjourned.

Utah

HB 246 Requires the state board of education to establish curriculum with instruction in comprehensive human sexuality education which includes evidence-based information about topics such as human reproduction, all methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections (including HIV and AIDS) and sexual or physical violence. Stipulates that this curriculum shall include instruction to help students develop skills to make healthy decisions and not making unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances. Also provides that the curriculum shall include the information on sexual abstinence as well as increasing the use of condoms and other contraceptives. Requires that the state instructional materials commission shall consult with parents, teachers, school nurses, and community members in evaluating instructional materials for comprehensive human sexuality curriculum that comply with this section. Failed.

Washington

SB 5506 Adds information on sexual assault and violence prevention and understanding consent to existing health education requirement. Failed- Adjourned.

State Laws on Medical Accuracy in Sex Education
STATUTES SUMMARY

Arizona
Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 15.716

Each school district may provide instruction on HIV/AIDS. It should be medically accurate and the Department of Health Services or the Department of Education can be consulted to review curriculum for medical accuracy and teacher training.

California
Cal. Educ. Code § 51930-51939

School districts may provide comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education from kindergarten through grade 12. The information must be medically accurate, factual, and objective. In grade seven, information must be provided on the value of abstinence while also providing medically accurate information on other methods of preventing pregnancy and STIs. A school district that elects to offer comprehensive sex education earlier than grade seven may provide age-appropriate and medically accurate information.

Colorado
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-1-110.5

 

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-1-128; 25-44-101-104; 22-25-110; 25.5-5-603

A school district that offers a human sexuality curriculum shall maintain content standards for the curriculum that are based on scientific research. Curriculum content standards shall also be age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and medically accurate according to published authorities upon which medical professionals generally rely.

 

Creates the comprehensive human sexuality education grant program in the department of public health and environment. The purpose of the program is to provide funding to public schools and school districts to create and implement evidence based, medically accurate, culturally sensitive and age appropriate comprehensive human sexuality education programs. Creates the interagency “youth sexual health team,” to function as the oversight entity of the grant program.

Hawaii
Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 321-11.1

Sex education programs funded by the state shall provide medically accurate and factual information that is age appropriate and includes education on abstinence, contraception, and methods of disease prevention to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV.

Medically accurate is defined as verified or supported by research conducted in compliance with accepted scientific methods and recognized as accurate and objective by professional organizations and agencies with expertise in the relevant field, such as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Illinois

105 ILCS 5/27-9.1

150 ILCS 110/3

If a school district chooses to provide sex education courses, curricula is required to be developmentally and age appropriate, medically accurate, evidence-based and complete. Requires comprehensive sex education offered in grades six through 12 to include instruction on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and STDs. Requires course material and instruction replicate evidence-based programs or substantially incorporate elements of evidence-based programs. Requires the State Board of Education to make available sex education resource materials. Allows parents to opt out.

Iowa
Iowa Code § 279.50

Each school board shall provide age-appropriate and research-based instruction in human growth and development including instruction regarding human sexuality, self-esteem, stress management, interpersonal relationships, domestic abuse, HPV and the availability of a vaccine to prevent HPV, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome in grades one through 12. Research-based includes information recognized as medically accurate and objective by leading professional organizations and agencies with relevant expertise in the field.

Maine
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 22 § 1902

Defines "comprehensive family life education" as education from kindergarten to grade 12 regarding human development and sexuality, including education on family planning and sexually transmitted diseases, that is medically accurate and age appropriate.

Michigan
Mich. Comp. Laws § 380.1169

The superintendent of a school district shall cooperate with the Department of Public Health to provide teacher training and provide medically accurate materials for instruction of children about HIV/AIDS.

Minnesota
Minn. Stat. § 121A.23

The commissioner of education and the commissioner of health shall assist school districts to develop a plan to prevent or reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Districts must have a program that has technically accurate information and curriculum.

Missouri
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 170.015
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 191.668

Any course materials and instructions related to human sexuality and STIs shall be medically and factually accurate. The department of health and senior services shall prepare public education and awareness plans and programs for the general public, and the department of elementary and secondary education shall prepare educational programs for public schools, regarding means of transmission and prevention and treatment of the HIV virus.  Beginning with students in the sixth grade, materials and instructions shall also stress that STIs are serious, possible health hazards of sexual activity. The educational programs shall stress moral responsibility in and restraint from sexual activity and avoidance of controlled substance use whereby HIV can be transmitted. Students shall be presented with the latest medically factual and age-specific information regarding both the possible side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception.

New Jersey*

Family life education curriculum must be aligned with the most recent version of the New Jersey Core curriculum Content Standards which requires that instructional material be current, medically accurate and supported by extensive research.

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-81

Reproductive health and safety education must provide factually accurate biological or pathological information that is related to the human reproductive system. Materials used must be age appropriate, objective and based upon scientific research that is peer reviewed and accepted by professional and credentialed experts in the field of sexual health education. 

Oklahoma
Okl. Stat. Ann. tit. 70 § 11-103.3

The State Department of Education shall develop curriculum and materials for AIDS prevention education in conjunction with the State Department of Health. A school district may also develop its own AIDS prevention education curriculum and materials. Any curriculum and materials developed for use in the public schools shall be approved for medical accuracy by the State Department of Health.

The State Department of Health and the State Department of Education shall update AIDS education curriculum material as newly discovered medical facts make it necessary.

Oregon
Or. Rev. Stat. § 336.455

Each school district shall provide age-appropriate human sexuality education courses in all public elementary and secondary schools as an integral part of the health education curriculum. Curriculum must also be medically accurate, comprehensive, and include information about responsible sexual behaviors and hygienic practices that eliminate or reduce the risks of pregnancy and the risks of exposure to HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other STIs. Information about those risks shall be presented in a manner designed to allay fears concerning risks that are scientifically groundless.

Rhode Island
R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-17

The department of elementary and secondary education shall, pursuant to rules promulgated by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education and the director of the department of health, establish comprehensive AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) instruction, which shall provide students with accurate information and instruction on AIDS transmission and prevention, and which course shall also address abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred means of prevention, as a basic education program requirement.

Tennessee
Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 49-6-1301 et seq.

Requires local education agencies to develop and implement a family life education program if the teen pregnancy rate in any county exceeds 19.5 pregnancies per 1,000 females aged 11 through 18. Requires curriculum be age-appropriate and provide factually and medically accurate information. Prohibits instruction and distribution of materials that promote “gateway sexual activity.” Requires that parents or guardians be notified in advance of a family life program, allowed to examine instruction materials, and provide written consent for a student to opt-out of family life education.

Texas
Tex. Health and Safety Code § 85.004

The department shall develop model education programs to be available to educate the public about AIDS and HIV infection. The programs must be scientifically accurate and factually correct.

Utah**

The State Office of Education must approve all sexuality education programs through the State Instructional Material Commission.  Programs must be medically accurate.

Washington
Wash. Rev. Code § 28A.230.070
Wash. Rev. Code § 28A.300.475

Schools shall adopt an AIDS prevention education program using model curriculum or district-designed curriculum approved for medical accuracy by the office on AIDS within the department of social and health services. The curriculum shall be updated as necessary to incorporate newly discovered medical facts.

By September 1, 2008, every public school that offers sexual health education must assure that sexual health education is medically and scientifically accurate, age-appropriate, appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation, and includes information about abstinence and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. All sexual health information, instruction, and materials must be medically and scientifically accurate. Abstinence may not be taught to the exclusion of other materials and instruction on contraceptives and disease prevention.

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. § 118.019

A school board may provide an instructional program in human growth and development in grades kindergarten through 12. Program shall be medically accurate and age-appropriate. Abstinence will be presented as the sure way to prevent pregnancy and STIs.  Instruction must identify the skills necessary to remain abstinent.

*Medical accuracy is not specifically outlined in state statue, rather it is required by the New Jersey Department of Education, Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Core Curriculum Content Standards.

** Medical accuracy requirement is pursuant to rule R277-474 of the Utah Administrative Code.

Source:  NCSL, 2015; Guttmacher Institute, 2015; Powered by StateNet 

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