State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Sex education is not mandated in Wisconsin. However, if schools choose to teach it they must stress abstinence. Since Wisconsin schools are not required to provide sex education to students, school districts are left to decide what type of sex education–any at all–they provide to youth that has resulted in disparities regarding the quality of sex education that students receive.
- Wisconsin schools are required to provide instruction on STDs.
- If a school chooses to provide human growth and development instruction, curriculum is required to stress abstinence and must be medically accurate.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, Wisconsin’s state standards for human growth and development instruction includes instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Curriculum is not required to provide instruction on consent. However, Wisconsin’s state standards for human growth and development instruction include instruction on consent.
- Parents or guardians may remove their children from the human growth and development instruction with a written request to the teacher or principal. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
Wisconsin law § 115.35 establishes a “Health Problems Education Program,” which includes instruction on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and human growth and development. While teaching about STDs is a required component, schools are no longer obligated to teach the human growth and development section due to a revision of Wisconsin law § 118.019 in 2012. To see a comprehensive list of changes to the law, please visit the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) website. If it is offered, the “Health Problems Education Program” must include:
- 1. The importance of communication between the pupil and the pupil’s parents or guardians;
- 2. Reproductive and sexual anatomy and physiology, including biological, psychosocial, emotional, and intellectual changes that accompany maturation; …
- 5. The benefits of and reasons for abstaining from sexual activity … stress[ing] the value of abstinence as the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and identify[ing] the skills necessary to remain abstinent; …
- 10. Adoption resources, prenatal care, and postnatal supports; and
- 11. The nature and treatment of STIs.
An educational program in human growth and development must also “use instructional methods and materials that do not discriminate against a pupil based upon the pupil’s race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnic or cultural background or against sexually active pupils or children with disabilities.”
School boards that choose to provide instruction must provide annual notification to parents outlining the curriculum used for their child’s particular grade level. Parents and guardians must be given the opportunity to review all materials related to sex education classes. Parents or guardians may remove their children from the human growth and development instruction with a written request to the teacher or 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/wisconsin-state-profile-23/