State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Maryland schools are required to teach sex education. This sex education, however, is not required to align with the National Sex Education Standards.
- Curriculum must teach that abstinence is the best method for preventing unintended pregnancy and STIs.
- Curriculum must include inclusive instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Curriculum must include instruction on consent.
- Schools must provide parents or guardians the opportunity to view all instructional materials prior to their use and parents or guardians may remove their children from any or all “Family Life and Human Sexuality” classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Instruction on contraception and condoms must be medically accurate.
Maryland Code of Public General Laws §7–401 requires instruction in health education and the joint development of standards and guidelines for school health programs by the Departments of Education and Health and Mental Hygiene. The Administrative Regulation fulfilling this requirement, Md. Code Regs. 13A.04.18.01, mandates that each local school board work with its county health department to establish a broad school health education program, including “Family Life and Human Sexuality” and “Disease Prevention and Control” instruction, both of which encompass sex education topics, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) education. The goals are to enable students to “demonstrate the ability to use human development knowledge, social skills, and health enhancing strategies to promote positive relationships and healthy growth and development throughout the life cycle;” and to “demonstrate the ability to apply prevention and treatment knowledge, skills, and strategies to reduce susceptibility and manage disease.”
The family life and human sexuality component of Maryland’s health education instruction is required to “begin in or prior to the fifth grade,” and “as shortly in advance of puberty as is practical.” Determination of which grade is left to each local school board.
In 2016, legislators enacted House Bill 72. Known as “Erin’s Law,” it requires Maryland schools to provide age-appropriate instruction on sexual abuse and assault prevention.
In 2018, Maryland enacted Education Code § 7-445, requiring county boards of education to provide instruction on the meaning of consent, including respecting personal boundaries, in sex education classes.
Schools must provide parents or guardians the opportunity to view all instructional materials prior to their use and parents or guardians may remove their children from any or all “Family Life and Human Sexuality” 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/maryland-state-profile-23/