State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Texas schools are required to teach some concepts of sex education by proxy via mandated state curriculum standards. This is through instruction in health education.
- If a school chooses to teach sex education, the curriculum must emphasize abstinence.
- Health education is an optional elective course in high school
- If a school chooses to teach sex education and uses a curriculum developed by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), it must state that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle to the general public and that it is a criminal offense under the Texas Penal Code. This is regardless of the fact that the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in Lawrence v. Texas that declared state laws criminalizing homosexual behavior to be unconstitutional in 2003.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
- Parents or guardians are required to provide their written consent prior to their children receiving sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.
- Texas has no regulation regarding medically accurate sex education instruction.
Neither sex education nor education on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are statutorily mandated in Texas. However, Texas Education Code §7.102(c)(11) requires the State Board of Education to “adopt rules to carry out the curriculum required or authorized under §28.002,” which includes “health.” This means all school districts must adhere to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Health Education standards. Accordingly, Texas Education Code §§ 28.004, Texas State Board of Education Administrative Code §§ 115.22, 115.23, 115.32, and 115.33 require that all “course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality” must:
- Present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age;
- Devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior;
- Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity, if used consistently and correctly, is the only method that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), infection with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity;
- Direct adolescents to a standard of behavior in which abstinence from sexual activity before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, STDs, and infection with HIV or AIDS; and
- Teach contraception and condom use in terms of human-use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in curriculum content.
School districts may not distribute condoms and are allowed to “separate students according to sex for instructional purposes.” Each school district must also have a local health advisory council established by the school district’s board of trustees. The council must make recommendations to the school district about changes in that district’s curriculum and “appropriate grade levels and methods of instruction for human sexuality instruction.”[v] This council also must “assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education instruction.”
Texas Health and Safety Code §85.007 and §163.002 state that course materials and instruction must “state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle to the general public and is a criminal offence under Section 21.06, Penal Code” a common “no promotion of homosexuality” style law. This ruling applies if the curriculum is developed by the DSHS. The United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in Lawrence v. Texas that declared state laws criminalizing homosexual behavior to be unconstitutional in 2003, invalidating Section 21.06 despite it remaining in Texas Code.
Parents or guardians are required to provide their written consent prior to their children receiving sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-in” 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/texas-state-profile-23/