In addition, this study also reveals some disturbing disparities in what young people are learning. For example, it found that a plurality, %, of young people who received no sex education live in households that made less than $20,000. Moreover, the authors note that “generally individuals receiving no sex education tended to be from low-income, nonintact families, black, and from rural areas.” We know that young people of color and young people from low-income communities are disproportionately affected by teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In order to overcome these health disparities, we must ensure that these young people, in particular, receive high quality sexuality education.
Beginning in the 1970s, concerns over teen pregnancy– and later HIV/AIDS–galvanized widespread public support for sex education in schools. Most states today have a policy requiring HIV education, usually in conjunction with broader sex education. Meanwhile, as debate over the relative merits of abstinence-only-until-marriage versus more comprehensive approaches has intensified, states have enacted a number of specific content requirements. This brief summarizes state-level sex and HIV education policies, as well as specific content requirements, based on a review of state laws, regulations and other legally binding policies.