State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
- Missouri schools are not required to teach sex education. However, they are required to teach health education, including HIV/AIDS prevention education.
- Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
- Curriculum must present abstinence as the preferred choice of behavior.
- If sex education is offered, curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- If sex education is offered, curriculum must include instruction on consent.
- Parents and guardians can remove their children from any part of their sex education instruction. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- All course materials related to HIV/AIDS, along with sex education curriculum if offered, must be medically accurate.
Missouri schools are required by Missouri Revised Statute § 170.015 to teach health education, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) prevention education, beginning in elementary school. If a school chooses to provide additional sex education, Missouri law mandates that all instruction must be medically and factually accurate and “present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relation to all sexual activity for unmarried pupils.” In addition, instruction must “advise students that teenage sexual activity places them at a higher risk of dropping out of school because of the consequences of sexually transmitted diseases [STDs] and unplanned pregnancy.”
Among other requirements, the instruction must also:
- Stress that [STDs] are serious, possible, health hazards of sexual activity. Pupils shall be provided with the latest medical information regarding exposure to [HIV], [AIDS], human papillomavirus [HPV], hepatitis, and other [STDs];
- Present students with the latest medically factual information regarding both the possible side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception, including the success and failure rates for the prevention of pregnancy and [STDs]; or shall present students with information on contraceptives and pregnancy in a manner consistent with the provisions of the federal abstinence education law, 42 U.S.C. Section 510;
- Include a discussion of the possible emotional and psychological consequences of preadolescent and adolescent sexual activity and the consequences of adolescent pregnancy[iv]
The statute was first amended in 2015 to include instruction on “the dangers of sexual predators, including online predators when using electronic communication methods” and “the consequences, both personal and legal, of inappropriate text messaging.” Later, in 2018, the statute was amended again to include instruction on sexual harassment, sexual violence, and consent.
The specific content of human sexuality instruction must be determined by the school board of each school district or charter school. School districts and charter schools are prohibited from providing abortion services and allowing a person and/or entity that provides abortion services to “offer, sponsor, or furnish” course materials related to human sexuality and STDs.
Prior to instruction, school districts and charter schools must make all curriculum materials available for public inspection. Parents have the right to remove their child from any part of the district’s or school’s human sexuality instruction. 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/missouri-state-profile/