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Illinois

State Information

State Policy Information

State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance

  • Illinois schools are not required to teach sex education. However, they are required to provide instruction on human ecology and health, human growth and development, and the “psychological, physiological, hygienic, and social responsibilities of family life,” including discussion of abstinence and AIDS prevention.
  • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
  • Curriculum must emphasize abstinence until marriage. However, curriculum must also place substantial emphasis on contraception if a school chooses to teach sex education.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, curriculum must teach “honor and respect” for monogamous heterosexual marriage.
  • Curriculum must include instruction on consent.
  • Parents or guardians may remove their children from any or all sex education, family life programs, and/or STD/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention programs. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Curriculum must be medically accurate.

State Law

The Illinois Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act states that the following topics must be addressed in all elementary and secondary schools:

[H]uman ecology and health, human growth and development; the emotional, psychological, physiological, hygienic, and social responsibilities of family life, including sexual abstinence until marriage; [and the] prevention and control of disease, including instruction in grades 6 through 12 on the prevention, transmission, and spread of [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] AIDS.

As of 2013, schools that teach sex education are no longer required to emphasize that “abstinence is the expected norm” and are instead expected to teach both abstinence and contraception. All courses that discuss sexual intercourse are to address “the hazards of sexual intercourse . . . [and] the latest medical information citing the failure and success rates of condoms,” and include explanations of when it is “unlawful for males to have sexual relations with females under the age of 18.” Course material must also include information regarding responsible parenting.

In 2014, the Illinois State Board of Education published Public Act 98-0441 to provide further details on state sex education requirements.

In 2018, Illinois enrolled Public Act 100-0684, requiring sex education instruction to include discussion on consent, sexual harassment, and sexual assault; and Public Act 100-1043, requiring the State Board of Education to implement a pilot program including instruction on parenting education for grades 9-12, which may be included in sex education classes.

Illinois law also provides guidelines for family life education courses. These courses are “designed to promote wholesome and comprehensive understanding of the emotional, psychological, physiological, hygienic, and social responsibility aspects of family life,” and therefore must “include the teaching of the alternatives to abortion, appropriate to the various grade levels.”

The Illinois Superintendent of Education must prepare the course of instruction for family life education, make it available to school districts, and “develop a procedure for evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of the family life courses of instruction in each local school district, including the setting of reasonable goals for reduced sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and premarital pregnancy.”

Parents or guardians may remove their children from any or all sex education, family life programs, and/or STD/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention programs. 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/illinois-state-profile/