State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Michigan schools are not required to teach sex education. However, HIV/AIDS education is required.
- Curriculum must stress abstinence as a positive lifestyle.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent. However, curriculum must include instruction on refusal skills, that it is “wrong to take advantage of, harass, or exploit another person sexually”, and that having sex or sexual contact with an individual under the age of 16 is a crime.
- Parents or guardians must receive written notice of any sex education class and can remove their children from any part of the instruction. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- HIV/AIDS education must be medically accurate. However, Michigan has no standard on medically accurate sex education.
Michigan state law does not require schools to teach sex education. However, HIV/AIDS education is required. As outlined in Michigan Compiled Laws §§ 380.1169–.1170, 380.1506–.1507, and 388.1766–.1766a, schools may also offer sex education instruction, which can include information on family planning, family life education, and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention. HIV and sex education must present abstinence as “a responsible method of preventing unwanted or out-of-wedlock pregnancy and [STDs]” and as “a positive lifestyle for unmarried young people.” If offered, sex education classes must be offered as an elective and not as a graduation requirement like health and physical education.
HIV/AIDS classes may be taught by health care professionals or teachers specifically trained in HIV/AIDS education, and sex education instruction must be provided by teachers qualified to teach health education. All instruction in reproductive health must be taught by qualified instructors and “supervised by a registered physician, a registered nurse, or other person certified by the state board as qualified.” In 2016, the 2016 School Aid Act went into effect and included a provision that introduced penalties for any public school employees that assist students in accessing abortion care. This provision created another obstacle for teachers seeking to discuss abortion as a valid outcome of pregnancy. Affirming abortion as a valid outcome of pregnancy is a critical topic for inclusion within sex education programs. As a result, abortion “shall not be considered a method of family planning, nor shall abortion be taught as a method of reproductive health.” Further, no school official or school board member may dispense any family planning drug or device in school, nor may they make abortion referrals. Districts found in violation of this may face corrective actions, such as being forced to forfeit aid.
School boards must establish an advisory board to review all sex education materials and curricula. This advisory board must include parents, students, educators, clergy, and health professionals. Each school district must also appoint a state-approved sex education program supervisor. All curricula must be approved by the local school board and, if any changes are made, the local school board must hold at least two public hearings on the revisions. Parents must receive notification of any sex education class and be allowed to review its content, and they may remove their children from any part of the sex education instruction. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
To access a summary of HIV/STD and sex education requirements and best practices for Michigan public schools, click here.
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/michigan-state-profile-23/