State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Massachusetts schools are not required to teach sex education.
- If sex education is offered, the curriculum must explain the benefits of abstinence.
- If sex education is offered, curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- If sex education is offered, curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
- Parents and guardians can exempt their children from any portion of sex education instruction through written notification to the school principal. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
Massachusetts does not require sex education but instead allows local school boards to make such decisions. If a community decides to implement sex education, General Law of Massachusetts, Chapter 71 §§38O requires that standards be developed with the guidance of community stakeholders, including parents and at least one physician. In 1990, the Massachusetts Board of Education approved a policy that:
[U]rges local school districts to create programs which make instruction about [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] (AIDS)/[human immunodeficiency virus] (HIV) available to every Massachusetts student at every grade level. These programs should be developed in a manner which respects local control over education and involves parents and representatives of the community. The Board believes that AIDS/HIV prevention education is most effective when integrated into a comprehensive health education and human services program.
Every district implementing or maintaining curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues is required to adopt a policy ensuring parental/guardian notification. This policy must afford parents or guardians the flexibility to exempt their children from any portion of said curriculum through written notification to the school principal.
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/massachusetts-state-profile-23/