State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance
Schools in Utah are required to teach some sex education. State law requires such instruction to occur at LEAST twice between 8th and 12 grades.
- Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive and must stress abstinence.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent. However, the curriculum must include instruction on refusal skills.
- Parents or guardians must give written permission in order for a student to participate in any form of sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.
- Curriculum must be medically accurate.
Utah Code (§ 53G-10-402, Administrative Code §§ R277-474, and R277-700) mandates the State Board of Education to establish curriculum requirements for grades 8–12 on the prevention of communicable diseases. This instruction must stress “the importance of abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as methods for preventing certain communicable diseases, and [the importance of] personal skills that encourage individual choice of abstinence and fidelity.”
Among other limitations on what can be taught, the Utah Code states that “[a]t no time may instruction be provided, including responses to spontaneous questions raised by students, regarding any means or methods that facilitate or encourage the violation of any state or federal criminal law by a minor or an adult.” However, educators are permitted to respond to spontaneous questions for the purpose of “providing accurate data or correcting inaccurate or misleading information or comments made by students in class regarding sex education.”
Utah Code, effectively amended in May 2019 to remove language that prohibited “the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage,” further requires that materials used for instruction in health not include:
- the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior;
- the advocacy of premarital or extra marital sexual activity; or
- the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices.
Further, Utah Code was amended to require the teaching of “refusal skills” and “the harmful effects of pornography” in health instruction. The Utah Code requires that each newly hired or newly assigned educator who teaches or who will be teaching any part of a sex education class must attend a state-sponsored course offered annually that outlines the state-designed curriculum and Utah Code regarding the teaching of human sexuality. In addition, the Utah Code was amended in March 2019 to allow health education instruction to “include information about the medical characteristics, effectiveness, limitations, and risks of contraceptive methods or devices.”
Parents or guardians must give written permission in order for a student to participate in any form of sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-in” 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/utah-state-profile-23/