State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
- South Carolina schools are required to teach sex education.
- Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
- Curriculum must stress abstinence.
- Curriculum must not include instruction on homosexual relationships unless in the context of discussing STDs.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent. However, the South Carolina Standards for Health and Safety Education recommend instruction on consent.
- Parents must be informed in advance of any sexuality-specific instruction and are allowed to remove their children from any part of the health education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- South Carolina has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education instruction.
Public schools in South Carolina are required to provide sexually transmitted disease (STD) education beginning in grade 6, but they are prohibited from providing information on STDs to students prior to that time. Schools are not required to teach about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). State law specifies that age-appropriate reproductive health education may be offered for grades K–5. STDs and reproductive health are required to be included as a part of comprehensive health education in grades 6–8, and pregnancy prevention may be addressed. Students must also receive at least 750 minutes of reproductive health education and pregnancy prevention education at least one time over the course of grades 9 through 12. Pregnancy prevention education must be presented in gender segregated settings.
According to South Carolina Code Annotated §§ 59-32-10, ‘“Reproductive health education’ means instruction in human physiology, conception, prenatal care and development, childbirth, and postnatal care, but it does not include instruction concerning sexual practices outside marriage or practices unrelated to reproduction except within the context of the risk of disease. Abstinence and the risks associated with sexual activity outside of marriage must be strongly emphasized.”
The law explains, “[c]ontraceptive information must be given in the context of future family planning.” In addition, no school may distribute contraceptives. Abortion may only be discussed in the context of the complications that it may cause and “must not be mentioned as a method of birth control.” Further, the law specifies that “the program of instruction provided for in this section may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships, except in the context of instruction concerning [STDs].”
Parents must be informed in advance of any sexuality-specific instruction and are allowed to remove their children from any part of the health education 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/south-carolina-state-profile/