State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
- Louisiana schools are not required to teach sex education. However, schools are required to teach health education, which includes instruction on sexual risk behaviors, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs.
- Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
- If sex education is offered, curriculum must emphasize abstinence as the expected social standard.
- If sex education is offered, curriculum must not include any sexually explicit materials depicting homosexual activity.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
- Parents or guardians may remove their children from sex education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Louisiana has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education instruction. However, if a school chooses to teach sex education, instruction must be based on factual biological or pathological information.
Louisiana statute does not require schools to offer sex education, but Louisiana Revised Statute §17:24.4(E) states that “the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education … shall develop and establish statewide curriculum standards for required subjects to be taught in the public elementary and secondary schools of [the] state.” Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, all incoming 9th graders are required to take 1/2 credit of health education. Under this authority, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education promulgated Part LIX. Bulletin 103 to describe the state’s health education content standards. From grades 7–12, students learn about sexual abstinence and sexual risk behaviors; in grades 4 and 7–12, students receive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted disease (STD) education.
Louisiana Revised Statute §§17:281 mandates that sex education cannot be offered in grades K–6, except in Orleans Parish, which may offer sex education in grade 3 and above. If a student is parenting or pregnant, schools must provide this education “regardless of the student’s grade level.” The education must be integrated into “an existing course of study such as biology, science, physical hygiene, or physical education.” It cannot include “religious beliefs, practices in human sexuality, nor the subjective moral and ethical judgments of the instructor or other persons. Students shall not be tested, quizzed, or surveyed about their personal or family beliefs or practices in sex, morality, or religion.”
Classes may not include “any sexually explicit materials depicting male or female homosexual activity.” They also may not in “any way counsel or advocate abortion.” In addition, this education must emphasize that:
- Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the expected standard for all school-age children;
- Abstinence from sexual activity is a way to avoid unwanted pregnancy, STDs, including AIDS, and other associated health problems;
- Each student has the power to control personal behavior and to encourage students to base action on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others.
Louisiana Revised Statute §§17:279 requires that all public high schools offering home economics classes must also provide “parenthood education” and include the following topics about family living and community relationships: the consequences of the lack of adequate prenatal care, home management, and the responsibilities of parenthood. In addition, Louisiana Revised Statutes Annotated §§ 17:263 requires that adoption awareness be included in any health education or appropriate class. This includes instruction on “the benefits of adoption for families wishing to add a child, for potential adoptees, and for persons who are pregnant or who have a child for whom they are unable to care.”
In 2018, Louisiana enacted Act 369, requiring schools to provide parents with information regarding “the public health risks and harms associated with pornography,” including “the dangers of sexually charged cyberbullying,” as well as “the addictive and destructive nature of pornographic and illicit materials.”
Parents or guardians may remove their children from sex 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/louisiana-state-profile/