All 24 States That Mandate Sex Education And What They Require

The topic of sex ed in schools is a subject of great debate in America. While some feel such topics should be kept out of the classroom altogether, others feel schools have an obligation to provide students information about their changing bodies during their formative years. States differ greatly when it comes to teaching about topics like sex, reproductive health, contraception, and more. Which states mandate sex education? In the United States, 24 states require sex ed be taught in public schools.

Teen pregnancy and STD rates are topics of great public concern and everyone has a different opinion on how to prevent these things. Some states that require sex education promote abstinence-only approaches, but some feel this kind of curriculum is ineffective and fuels misconceptions about sex. Other states opt to teach students about safer sexual practices to prevent pregnancy and disease, with opponents arguing this could encourage teens to have sex before they're ready. While the topic is uncomfortable for many, anyone invested in our country's education should be informed about what kids are being taught in school. Browse this list for information about curriculum surrounding sexual education in America. 

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  • HIV/AIDS: Schools are required to teach HIV/AIDS education at least once in middle school and once in high school.

    Contraception: While sex education about contraceptive devices is not required, if schools opt to provide this information they must follow certain guidelines. Information must be medically accurate and students must be taught about the effectiveness and safety of all FDA-approved contraceptive devices. This includes emergency contraception. 

    Abstinence: Schools teaching abstinence must provide medically accurate information about additional contraception methods as well.

    Opt Out: Parents must have the option to remove their students from any/all sex education curriculum.


  • Curriculum: Sex education must follow the Delaware Health Education Curriculum.

    HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS prevention – with a focus on abstinence – must be included in the curriculum.

    Minimum Hours: 30 hours of health and family life education must be taught in each grade from Kindergarten to fourth grade. In fifth and sixth grade, 35 hours must be taught. In seventh and eighth grade, 70 hours must be taught. High school students must receive 1/2 credit in health education and each grade also has minimum hour requirements for drug and alcohol education.

    Opt Out: Parental permission is not required for students to participate in the sex education curriculum and there is no standard in place for removing students from the program.


  • HIV/AIDS: Students are required to learn about HIV prevention and STDs.

    Contraception: Contraception methods are not required to be taught, but such lessons are allowed.

    Abstinence: Instruction on abstinence is required as is instruction on community values including "the handling of peer pressure and the promotion of high self-esteem."

    Pregnancy: Information about the legal consequences of parenthood must be included in the curriculum.

    Opt Out: Parents must have the option to remove their child from any or all of the sex ed curriculum.


  • Abstinence: Hawaii instructs teachers to inform students that abstinence is the most effective and responsible way to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and consequential emotional distress. The program must empower students to remain abstinent or become abstinent.

    Contraception: Contraception methods may be discussed, but no forms of contraception may be distributed through a school program or on school grounds.

    Opt Out: Parental permission is not required for students to participate in sex ed programs and there is no official opt out program in place for parents.


  • HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS education must be included in the curriculum along with information about other sexually transmitted diseases and HPV.

    Curricula Requirement: All lessons must provide up-to-date, science-based, age-appropriate information.

    Abstinence: Abstinence may be taught but must include up-to-date, science-based, age-appropriate information.

    Opt Out: Parents may remove students from the program if any lessons conflict with religious beliefs.


  • Curriculum: All Kentucky schools must follow the Department of Education's Program of Studies in regards to teaching sixth through twelfth graders.

    Abstinence: Kentucky offers state funds to health departments to help students postpone sexual activity. While abstinence-only sex education is not required, it is strongly encouraged. 

    Opt Out: Parental permission is not required and there is no official opt out program in place.