State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Illinois schools are not required to teach sex education. However, if they do teach sex education it is required to be aligned with the National Sex Education Standards.
- Illinois schools are not required to teach sex education.
- If schools choose to teach sex education, however, it is required to include instruction that is age and developmentally appropriate, medically accurate, complete, culturally appropriate, inclusive, trauma-informed, and replicates evidence-based or evidence-informed programs.
- If sex education is taught, the curriculum is required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- If sex education is taught, the curriculum must include instruction on consent.
- Parents or guardians may remove their children from any or all sex education, family life programs, and/or STD/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention programs. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
The Illinois Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act states that the following topics must be addressed in all elementary and secondary schools:
[H]uman ecology and health, human growth and development; the emotional, psychological, physiological, hygienic, and social responsibilities of family life, including sexual abstinence until marriage; [and the] prevention and control of disease, including instruction in grades 6 through 12 on the prevention, transmission, and spread of [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] AIDS.
As of 2013, schools that teach sex education are no longer required to emphasize that “abstinence is the expected norm” and are instead expected to teach both abstinence and contraception. All courses that discuss sexual intercourse are to address “the hazards of sexual intercourse . . . [and] the latest medical information citing the failure and success rates of condoms,” and include explanations of when it is “unlawful for males to have sexual relations with females under the age of 18.” Course material must also include information regarding responsible parenting. In 2014, the Illinois State Board of Education published Public Act 98-0441 to provide further details on state sex education requirements.
In 2018, Illinois enrolled Public Act 100-0684, requiring sex education instruction to include discussion on consent, sexual harassment, and sexual assault; and Public Act 100-1043, requiring the State Board of Education to implement a pilot program including instruction on parenting education for grades 9-12, which may be included in sex education classes. In 2021, Senate Bill 818, enrolled as Public Act 102-0522, requires schools that offer sex education to teach comprehensive sex education that is age, culturally, and developmentally appropriate, medically accurate, complete, inclusive, trauma-informed, and replicates evidence-based or evidence-informed programs. This constitutes an “if/then” policy which means that IF sex education is taught in schools, then it must meet state specified requirements according to law. However, because it does not mandate sex education, local jurisdictions are still able to decide whether to provide sex education at all.
Illinois law also provides guidelines for family life education courses. These courses are “designed to promote wholesome and comprehensive understanding of the emotional, psychological, physiological, hygienic, and social responsibility aspects of family life,” and therefore must “include the teaching of the alternatives to abortion, appropriate to the various grade levels.” The Illinois Superintendent of Education must prepare the course of instruction for family life education, make it available to school districts, and “develop a procedure for evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of the family life courses of instruction in each local school district, including the setting of reasonable goals for reduced sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and premarital pregnancy.” Parents or guardians may remove their children from any or all sex education, family life programs, and/or STD/human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention programs. 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/illinois-state-profile-23/