State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Sex education is not currently mandated in Alabama, but schools that do teach sex education must emphasize abstinence. Because Alabama schools are not required to provide sex education to students, school districts are left to decide what, if any, type of sex education they provide to youth.
- Alabama students in grades 5-12 are required to receive instruction on HIV/AIDS through a health education program.
- If a school chooses to teach sex education, the curriculum must emphasize abstinence.
- If sex education is being taught, Alabama requires it to be medically accurate, including the inclusion of the latest medical information when providing instruction on contraceptives.
- Alabama statute does not require that sex education include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- There is no requirement to teach about consent.
- Parents or guardians can remove their children from sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
Alabama state law does not require the teaching of sex education. However, a resolution adopted by the Alabama State Board of Education in 1987 does require that students in grades 5–12 receive instruction about HIV/AIDS through a health education program. Should schools choose to offer additional sex education, Alabama State Code Section 16-40A-2 sets minimum requirements for what must be taught, but specific content is developed locally. Among other things, the code requires “sex education or the human reproductive process” programs or curricula to include and emphasize that:
- abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only completely effective protection against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and AIDS when transmitted sexually.
- abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage is the expected social standard for unmarried school-age persons.
The code also states that:
- course materials and instruction that relate to sexual education or STDs should be age-appropriate and medically accurate ;
- course materials and instruction that relate to sexual education or STDs should include:
- An emphasis on the importance of self-control and ethical conduct pertaining to sexual behavior.
- Statistics based on the latest medical information that indicates the degree of reliability and unreliability of various forms of contraception, while also emphasizing the increase in protection against pregnancy and protection against STDs, including HIV and AIDS, afforded by the use of various contraceptive measures
Parents or guardians may remove their children from instruction pertaining to “disease, its symptoms, development, and treatment” if the content is in conflict with their 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/alabama-state-profile-23/