2017 State School-Based Health Education Law Summary Reports


Many youth in the United States engage in behaviors that place them at risk for HIV, STDs and pregnancy1. Schools and other youth-serving organizations can help young people adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support their health and well-being—including behaviors that reduce their risk for HIV, STDs, and pregnancy.

State laws can significantly shape state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) decisions on school curricula and services, including the content and delivery of sexual health education. Sexual health education polices across the nation include state laws and regulations ranging from general mandates to specific guidelines. This varied approach may make it difficult for SEAs and LEAs to understand their jurisdiction’s specific policy landscape in order to effectively exercise local decision making within state mandated requirements. Research shows that well-designed and effectively implemented school health policies and programs can improve students’ health-related behaviors and outcomes, as well as their educational outcomes.2-6

In 2017, CDC conducted an analysis of state laws and regulations related to health education and specific to school-based sexual health education, HIV prevention education, and STD prevention education in the U.S. The purpose of this analysis was to identify the landscape in which SEAs and LEAs must operate when developing and implementing curricula and programs related to sexual health education, HIV prevention education, and STD prevention education. State legislative searches were conducted in Thomson Reuters Westlaw® (Thomas Reuters, Eagan, Minnesota) on 51 jurisdictions (50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia) using a verified search string between August 2015 and April 2016. Laws were included if they had at least one characteristic related to school-based curricula or classroom-based instruction on sexual health or HIV and STD prevention education. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia were identified to have at least one law that addressed school-based sexual health, HIV prevention, and/or STD prevention education.

View and download data on health risk behaviors among high school students and school health policies and practices. Also, download tools to assess health education curricula and improve school health and safety policies and programs.

State School-Based Health Education Law Summary Reports

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2015. MMWR 2016; 65(SS-6).
  2. Kirby D. Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; 2007.
  3. Kirby D. The impact of abstinence and comprehensive sex and STD/HIV education programs on adolescent sexual behavior. Sexuality Research & Social Policy 2008;5(3):18–27.
  4. Spriggs AL, Halpern CT. Timing of sexual debut and initiation of postsecondary education by early adulthood. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2008;40(3):152–161.
  5. Coyle K, Kirby D, Marín B, Gómez C, Gregorich S. Draw the line/respect the line: a randomized trial of a middle school intervention to reduce sexual risk behaviors. American Journal of Public Health 2004;94(5):843–851.
  6. Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Lee SM, Maynard M, Drown DR, Kohl III HW, Dietz WH. Physical education and academic achievement in elementary school: data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Public Health 2008;98(4):721–727.