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Rhode Island

State Information

State Policy Information

State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance

  • Rhode Island schools are required to teach sex education.
  • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive. However, sex education occurs within what is described as a “comprehensive school health education program.”
  • Curriculum must stress abstinence.
  • Curriculum must include instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
  • Curriculum must include instruction on consent.
  • Parents must be notified of sex education classes and may view the curriculum by submitting a written request. Students may be removed from instruction by written notification from the parent to the principal. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Rhode Island has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education. However, curriculum must be “accurate” to be in accordance with 16-22-17.

State Law

Rhode Island schools are required by Rhode Island General Laws §§ 16-1-516-22-17 and 16-22-18 to provide “accurate information and instruction on [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] AIDS transmission and prevention.” Schools must also teach “the responsibilities of family membership and adulthood, including issues related to reproduction, abstinence, dating and dating violence, marriage, and parenthood, as well as information about sexually transmitted diseases [STDs], sexuality, and sexual orientation.” These classes must stress “abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred means of prevention as a basic education program requirement.”

Parents must be notified of sex education classes and may view the curriculum by submitting a written request. Students may be removed from instruction by written notification from the parent to the principal. 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/rhode-island-state-profile/