State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Sex education is mandated in public schools in the District of Columbia, but is not required to be medically accurate.
- District of Columbia schools are required to teach sex education.
- Sex education occurs within what is described as a required “comprehensive school health education” program. However, curriculum is not required to align with the National Sex Education Standards.
- Sex education instruction must include instruction on abstinence.
- Curriculum must include instruction on how to “differentiate between gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and sex assigned at birth/biological sex,” and detail that “as people grow and develop, they may begin to feel romantically and/or sexually attracted to people of a different gender and/or to people of the same gender.”
- Curriculum must include instruction on how alcohol and other substances can affect the ability to give or perceive the provision of consent to sexual activity. Students must research, compare, and contrast DC minor consent laws.
- Parents can submit a written request to the principal to remove their children from sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Parents have the ability to review curriculum and instructional materials.
- The District of Columbia has no regulation regarding medically accurate sex education instruction.
District of Columbia Municipal Regulations §§ 5-E2304 and 5-E2305 state that public schools must provide comprehensive school health education, including instruction on human sexuality and reproduction. The instruction must be age-appropriate and taught in grades pre-kindergarten (pre-K)–12.
The superintendent of the District of Columbia public schools is charged with ensuring that sex education is taught in schools and that students achieve a minimum proficiency in this area. Accordingly, the superintendent must provide systematic teacher training and staff development activities for health and physical education instructors. A list of all textbooks for student and teacher training must be included in the list of textbooks submitted annually to the District Board of Education for its approval.
Parents or guardians may submit a written request to the principal if they wish to remove their children from human sexuality and reproduction education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
State Profiles provided by SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. For more information regarding your state’s sex ed policy, visit https://siecus.org/state_profile/district-of-columbia-state-profile-23/