State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
- New Jersey schools are required to teach sex education.
- Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
- Curriculum must stress abstinence.
- Curriculum must include instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Curriculum must include instruction on consent.
- New Jersey allows parents or guardians to remove their children from any part of the health, family life, or sex education classes if it conflicts with their beliefs. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Curriculum must be medically accurate.
New Jersey law, §§ 18A:35-7 and §§ 18A:35-8, mandates at least 150 minutes of health education during each school week in grades 1-12. In addition, high school students must acquire 3.75 credits of health education each year.
State law also requires that all sex education programs and curricula stress abstinence.[iii] In addition, “[a]ny instruction concerning the use of contraceptives or prophylactics such as condoms shall also include information on their failure rates for preventing pregnancy, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other [sexually transmitted diseases] (STDs) in actual use among adolescent populations and shall clearly explain the difference between risk reduction through the use of such devices and risk elimination through abstinence.”
In 2018, New Jersey enrolled P.L.2018, c.80, which requires instruction on the “social, emotional, and legal consequences of distributing and soliciting sexually explicit images through electronic means” at least once in middle school as part of the health education curriculum.
In 2019, the legislature enacted a series of bills to advance sex education in New Jersey. §§ 18A:35-4.37 was enrolled, which requires age-appropriate instruction in grades 6-12 on the law and the meaning of consent. §§ 18A:35-4.40 requires instruction on the “New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act” in grades 9-12. §§ 18A:35-4.5a requires instruction on age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in preschool through grade 12. §§ 18A:35-4.33 requires instruction on the social, emotional, and legal consequences of distributing and soliciting sexually explicit images once during middle school.
New Jersey allows parents or guardians to remove their children from any part of the health, family life, or sex education classes if it is “in conflict with [their] conscience, or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs.” 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/new-jersey-state-profile/