State Profiles

Florida’s Sex Education Snapshot

Advocates have diligently worked to advance sex education in Florida over recent years, their most recent efforts cumulating in the introduction of a series of progressive bills (House Bill 703, Senate Bill 926, and Senate Bill 982). House Bill 703 and Senate Bill 926, were both introduced in an attempt to pass the “Florida Healthy Adolescent Act,” which sought to require schools that provide sex education to teach comprehensive instruction on sexuality that is culturally responsive to the needs of young people of color and LGBTQ youth and includes topics such as healthy relationships and the full range of contraceptive methods. Senator Perry Thurston introduced Senate Bill 982 in an effort to include instruction on human trafficking in Florida’s comprehensive health education curriculum.

While all three bills were ultimately unsuccessful, they demonstrate a significant effort to advance sex education requirements statewide. In addition to these three bills, Senate Bill 1454 was introduced by Senator Debbie Mayfield in a regressive effort to require parents and guardians to receive notification of topics related to human sexuality and provide consent for their children to participate in sex education instruction. While parents should be informed on what sexual health curriculum their children are being taught, “opt-in” policies present an unnecessary barrier to receiving sex education. “Opt-out” policies, similar to the one currently required under Florida statute, allow parents to remove their children from sex education instruction without requiring additional hurdles for parents who want their children to receive such instruction.

Sex education is not currently mandated in Florida. Schools that do teach sex education must emphasize abstinence as the expected social standard. Since Florida schools are not required to provide sex education to students, school districts are left to decide what type of sex education–if any at all–they provide to youth. Mandating local control over sex education presents unique challenges that have resulted in a glaring disparity regarding the quality of sex education that students receive. Such discretion allows for the implementation of policies and curriculum that stigmatize marginalized youth, such as students of color and LGBTQ youth, and presents further challenges in ensuring that low income districts have access to the resources needed to implement comprehensive sex education. While some districts, such as Putnam County, mandate comprehensive sex education, others, such as St. John’s County, mandate abstinence only instruction. Regardless of how advanced a particular district’s curriculum may be, state statute mandates that HIV/AIDS instruction emphasize the benefits of heterosexual marriage. This requirement is particularly harmful to vulnerable LGBTQ youth.

Many parents and community members have spoken out against unsatisfactory curriculum, such as parents in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. These parents began speaking out in 2019 against curriculum that they claim failed to provide enough information to their children. It has been reported that the religious organization More2Life, linked to a Florida-based crisis pregnancy center (CPCs), is approved to teach abstinence only curriculum in Pinellas County. CPCs, also referred to as fake clinics, rely on deceptive messaging to draw in individuals trying to access reputable reproductive health care services and provide false, manipulative information about abortion care. Unfortunately, crisis pregnancy centers have increasingly received federal funding to deliver abstinence-only instruction nationwide. It has been reported that More2Life’s presentation includes a metaphor that compares sex to a fire, arguing that it is only safe within the context of marriage–similar to fire only being safe when it burns in a fireplace.

To improve access to quality sex education instruction, The Florida Department of Education has developed a Community Action Tool Kit to assist localities with the implementation of advanced sex education and also provides technical assistance to support districts in implementing advanced curriculum.

Right now, advocates can take action to ensure young people in their community have access to quality sex education. After identifying what topics are missing from local sex education requirements, advocates can vocalize the importance of implementing specific elements of comprehensive sex education, such as trauma informed, culturally responsive curriculum that addresses the needs of youth of color and includes instruction on topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity, consent, healthy relationships, and contraceptive options. Community members can also advocate for a local mandate that requires sex education to be medically accurate. Further, advocates can also contact their representatives to discuss the critical need for a statewide sex education requirement or discuss the potential for introducing legislation that requires specific elements included in comprehensive sex education to be taught. Advocates are encouraged to use the SIECUS Community Action Toolkit to guide local efforts to advance sex education.

State Sex Education Policies and Requirements at a Glance

  • Florida schools are not required to teach sex education. However, they are required to teach comprehensive health education that includes instruction on teenage pregnancy.
  • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
  • Curriculum must include the benefits of abstinence as the expected social standard.
  • If a school chooses to teach further instruction on HIV/AIDS, instruction must emphasize the benefits of heterosexual marriage.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
  • Parents or Guardians may submit a written request to remove their children from instruction on reproductive health or any disease. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Florida has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education instruction.

State House Highlights

This section highlights sex education bills that were introduced during the 2019 state legislative session as well as bills that have been introduced thus far in 2020. These proposed bills ​provide a brief overview of both recent and current legislative action taken to advance or restrict sex education. For a more comprehensive look at relevant legislation concerning sex education and related topics such as reproductive health care, LGBTQ rights, and HIV/AIDS, continue reading on to the “State Legislative Activity” section of Florida’s profile.

2020 Legislative Session ​
House Bill 1059 (pending): Aims to establish the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”, requiring each school board to establish procedures for a parent to object to instructional materials on the basis of beliefs concerning mortality, sex, religion, or that the materials are harmful. The bill also establishes the right of parents to opt their children out of any district-level data collection and prohibits health care practitioners from providing or arranging to provide health care services to a minor prior to receiving parental consent. An identical, companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

2019 Legislative Session
House Bill 703 (failed): Sought to establish the “Florida Healthy Adolescent Act.” If successful, the act would have established a curriculum compliance review program. In addition, the Florida Healthy Adolescent Act would have further defined comprehensive sex education to ensure instruction is medically accurate and culturally competent, inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity, and includes information on all forms of contraception. This bill had an identical companion bill in the Florida Senate.

House Bill 1171 (failed): Sought to establish a program to allow for parents to be notified of information relating to the health, well-being, and education of their children. Sought to allow parents and guardians to remove their student from any portion of the school district’s comprehensive health education that relates to sex education, among all other objected classroom materials and activities. An identical companion bill was introduced in the Florida Senate.

Senate Bill 982 (failed): Sought to require schools to provide instruction on human trafficking within their comprehensive health education curriculum.

Senate Bill 1454 (failed): If successful, would have required schools to notify certain parents of the inclusion of sex education and required parental approval for their child to receive sex education instruction. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.


More on sex ed in Florida…


State Law

Florida Statute 48-1003.42 states that public schools must teach comprehensive health education that includes giving students “an awareness of the benefits of sexual abstinence as the expected standard and the consequences of teenage pregnancy.” State policy reads that “course descriptions for comprehensive health education shall not interfere with the local determination of appropriate curriculum, which reflects local values and concerns.” Curriculum must include a teen dating violence component.

Florida Statute 48-1003.46 allows school boards to include additional instruction regarding HIV/AIDS. Such instruction may include information about “means used to control the spread of [AIDS].” If this instruction is included, it must:

  1. Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students, while teaching the benefits of monogamous, heterosexual marriage;
  2. Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity is a certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, STIs, including AIDS and other associated health problems;
  3. Teach that each student has the power to control personal behavior and encourage students to base actions on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others; and
  4. Provide instruction and material that is appropriate for the grade and age of the student.

Parents may submit a written request to the school principal to exempt their child from “the teaching of reproductive health or any disease, including HIV/AIDS, its symptoms, development, and treatment.” This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.

State Standards

Florida standards, titled Sunshine State Standards for Health Education, were revised in 2012 to incorporate benchmarks that include the prevention and control of disease, teen dating violence, and internet safety. The benchmarks include examples that can be taught to achieve competency, but the examples are neither prescriptive nor limiting. Examples of what can be taught include, “HIV by sexual transmission,” and “contracting [STDs] through sexual relationships.” Florida provides example curricula that schools can adopt to fulfill their comprehensive health education requirement. One of these programs, Health Opportunities through Physical Education (HOPE), includes instruction on “human sexuality, including abstinence and HIV.” Florida also maintains a detailed database of health education standards online and provides further guidance on curricula and instruction.

State Legislative Activity

State legislative activity related to sex education does not take place in isolation from the broader embroiled political and policy climate. Attacks on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, and efforts to limit access to abortion care and other reproductive health care services  prevent students from receiving comprehensive sex education and accessing sexual and reproductive health care services. Below are highlights of current legislative activity related to these topics. Florida’s 2020 session convened on January 14, 2020 and the 2019 session adjourned on May 4, 2019.

TitleDescriptionStatusLegislative Topic
House Bill 41Prohibits licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy on a minor. Referred to the House Subcommittee on Health Quality (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/583ac2f9c6e07f946bcc84b9a2ba8a84252085d3e4f73d4d0d1757a4736ea29ffbfceead24c621ce5cbcf8d1bce1ace8
House Bill 265Prohibits physicians from performing or inducing an abortion on a minor without written consent from a parent or guardian. Died in the House (2020)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/1a8015b1750a5b884582c71bffa51f1611dda6e40e33d17a76f83409286289df72af81e1eac44a24e42eb86f2aab8051
House Bill 271Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. Died in the House Health Quality Subcommittee (2020)Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/cb5251ce50ec23dc9db1969ec10abba32050a85bf40faa690378b6ad166d14c8d8d9dbeb74945d3cae240b52c5a8518e
House Bill 1365Prohibits physicians from performing gender affirming surgey on a minor.Died in the House Subcommittee on Health Quality (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/689a4564fb6fbc0457e302ee7fe3ddef92e4aeadd15c81767b1fe98f5fcb33a2d22b9829c6c02758ad86355eee6892c3
House Bill 1059Establishes the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”, requiring each school board to establish procedures for a parent to object to instructional materials on the basis of beliefs concerning mortality, sex, religion, or that the materials are harmful. The bill also establishes the right of parents to opt their children out of any district-level data collection and prohibits health care practitioners from providing or arranging to provide health care services to a minor prior to receiving parental consent.Died in the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2020)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/2652e45cf590ad9c0d6b9a4dfe6871fd39537cd99cc6c464d0f8fb7f634b4bb5a63255e7e1d6c0cc6435a5884495ba3b
Senate Bill 180Prohibits licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy on a minor. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy; Children, Families, and Elder Affairs; Rules (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/be22669b2f7d1f18d33d00cd6a2542e1391ff6370764fb8172d52ed6c8590aa9dc4311cdb15f554377719eff0e556224
Senate Bill 1864Prohibits physicians from performing gender affirming surgey on a minor.Died in the Senate Committee on Health Policy (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/e43572b5914ac11c9f6693645a52124fda7b83e0c0a6786bd62cd3279270488fa4784e9b4409e4e275cfd079154a499f
Senate Bill 404Requires physicians to obtain the written consent of a parent or guardian prior to performing an abortion on a minorEnacted (2020)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/95db23fd6dccf004bf9b51565a1d64329b39065790e787680cbf529d7a408046d8ee7e1ba8d7ecf08cce53d045ddd6d2
Senate Bill 1634establishes the “Parents’ Bill of Rights”, requiring each school board to establish procedures for a parent to object to instructional materials on the basis of beliefs concerning mortality, sex, religion, or that the materials are harmful. The bill also establishes the right of parents to opt their children out of any district-level data collection and prohibits health care practitioners from providing or arranging to provide health care services to a minor prior to receiving parental consent.Died in the Senate Committee on Rules (2020) Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/0cee65e333cbf8e8aa6c7bb9656b7d8f1ee671c8fd95ba72ce13cc3130e79de3166fa6ced693079c6cc599acdc49fb21
House Bill 235Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. Died in the House Subcommittee on Health Quality (2019)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/6e6df4f857c8e5711e5f9d5c9f77b329eeba18ab5a26ec0f9a9a79896663517df964328b9ac4ff7176f571429ad2c748
House Bill 703Requires schools that teach sex education to provide comprehensive instruction that is medically accurate and age appropriate. Died in the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Quality (2019)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/75b690e34be20d7c922bf6f8243d126be5f4baa8702937ee862b1822022d32f69970ffb87fb3a329cdecb2b97ccace41
House Bill 855Requires schools to provide parents with the content of reproductive health instructional materials at least ten days before students view the materials. Died in the House Committee on Education (2019)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/aa7feb10ee19664f8efc6a219f04fef7027a7aee513b0add2aaf573533151e1d8a561392d29ff088dbdbfefb88be1975
House Bill 1335Prohibits physicians from performing or inducing an abortion on a minor without written consent from a parent or guardian.Died in the Senate Committee on Health Policy (2019)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c19b9b1b46cca5ee16f99f6a30e3b128ca83f6a59e8df755acdbba38f229360430fed56155affe1a8c7bfb47214e392c
House Bill 1345House Bill 1345 Prohibits the attempted or actual performance or induction of an abortion of an “unborn child capable of feeling pain."Died in the House Subcommittee on Health Quality (2019)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c5d6114c876b33ca4fb81d41a42bbbdd22f0637d5aed9a12defa796a77a66d309b2a72b143c54b3b6834363031c474b1
House Bill 1171Establishes a program to allow for parents to be notified of information relating to the health, well-being, and education of their children. Sought to allow parents and guardians to remove their student from any portion of the school district’s comprehensive health education that relates to sex education, among all other objected classroom materials and activities. Died in the House Committee on Judiciary (2019)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/89e5157152782a8c88412cdc4ae71fc8c65210583d7b53022e45ea3a40186dfeae32aeec25fb95e548ccff6adaf097de
Senate Bill 84Prohibits licensed professionals from performing conversion therapy on a minor. Died in the Senate Committee on Health Policy (2019)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/51d9033eb030a92bcddee708e833562853126978a5f17146377cfa01ad1a3ff3d347d79f57a02278e77ac40fde480a1c
Senate Bill 558Prohibits the attempted or actual performance or induction of an abortion of an “unborn child capable of feeling pain.” Died in the Senate Committee on Health Policy (2019)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/51d9033eb030a92bcddee708e833562853126978a5f17146377cfa01ad1a3ff3d347d79f57a02278e77ac40fde480a1c
Senate Bill 792Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.Died in the Senate Committee on Health Policy (2019)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/9d2742c76ab74265be0206aa1357d3b6e2982165578e46095113a2093c8056588c21d861dce00d300f1d1bc6f2b52b24
Senate Bill 926Requires schools that teach sex education to provide comprehensive instruction that is medically accurate and age appropriate.Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2019)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/cdcd221d3f95f11c01aef8c8543f9463a7893577002ff9b0074ce446d2c067c4f9650d6ce55ca62e2fb2a9a9768b99c7
Senate Bill 982Requires schools to provide instruction on human trafficking within their health education curriculum.Died in the Senate Committee on Appropriations (2019)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/42ce6e34ed2385599aef527fc29fd94e6404ac818fe134c3666451ee77d7ce4dac3c99d8920ae38cf96e69f68270e135
Senate Bill 1454Requires schools to notify parents and guardians of students enrolled in a course that will teach sex education of the curriculum content at least ten days prior to when the materials will be used. Parents must provide written approval for the student to be included in instruction on sex education. Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2019)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/6aacf280eaac31606363749b36a524fad3566f2e00cfb9481cb588534f773c9c9b5a3445a314430ca82d3b11ac1babf7
Senate Bill 1726Establishes a program to allow for parents to be notified of information relating to the health, well-being, and education of their children. Sought to allow parents and guardians to remove their student from any portion of the school district’s comprehensive health education that relates to sex education, among all other objected classroom materials and activities.Died in the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2019)Sex Education709f88759fc8f8c5843b16c08c48395edd571121900335510c8c12b50c83426d92442b37f5f60f6331ab3dc0ba7e7c55
Senate Bill 1774Prohibits physicians from performing or inducing an abortion on a minor without written consent from a parent or guardian unless in the case of a medical emergency and establishes the right for the minor to petition the court to obtain an abortion without parental consent. Died in the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2019)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/46fb1ad9abb5bfcc8515b7c990aaacf196ad4f3d5a83a2852b7d479ae29e254dea3a3a7c2339ef57b7eb8f6715ab3049

Youth Sexual Health Data

Young people are more than their health behaviors and outcomes. While data can be a powerful tool to demonstrate the sex education and sexual health care needs of young people, it is important to be mindful that these behaviors and outcomes are impacted by systemic inequities present in our society that affect an individual’s sexual health and well-being. To learn more about Florida’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results, click here.

Florida School Health Profiles Data 

In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the School Health Profiles, which measure school health policies and practices and highlight which health topics were taught in schools across the country. Since the data were collected from self-administered questionnaires completed by schools’ principals and lead health education teachers, the CDC notes that one limitation of the School Health Profiles is bias toward the reporting of more positive policies and practices. In the School Health Profiles, the CDC identifies 20 sexual health education topics as critical for ensuring a young person’s sexual health. Below are key instruction highlights for secondary schools in Florida as reported for the 2017–2018 school year.

Reported teaching all 20 critical sexual health education topics

  • 31.5% of Florida secondary schools taught students all 20 critical sexual health education topics in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 50% of Florida secondary schools taught students all 20 critical sexual health education topics in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching about the benefits of being sexually abstinent

  • 66.9% of Florida secondary schools taught students about the benefits of being sexually abstinent in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 85.6% of Florida secondary schools taught students about the benefits of being sexually abstinent in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching how to access valid and reliable information, products, and services related to HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy

  • 63.3% of Florida secondary schools taught students how to access valid and reliable information, products, and services related to HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 84.5% of Florida secondary schools taught students how to access valid and reliable information, products, and services related to HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching how to create and sustain healthy and respectful relationships

  • 66.7% of Florida secondary schools taught students how to create and sustain healthy and respectful relationships in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 88.1% of Florida secondary schools taught students how to create and sustain healthy and respectful relationships in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching about preventive care that is necessary to maintain reproductive and sexual health

  • 58.5% of Florida secondary schools taught students about preventive care that is necessary to maintain reproductive and sexual health in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 81% of Florida secondary schools taught students about preventive care that is necessary to maintain reproductive and sexual health in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching how to correctly use a condom

  • 41.4% of Florida secondary schools taught students how to correctly use a condom in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 65.1% of Florida secondary schools taught students how to correctly use a condom in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching about methods of contraception other than condoms

  • 47.9% of Florida secondary schools taught students about methods of contraception other than condoms in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 73.1% of Florida secondary schools taught students about methods of contraception other than condoms in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching about sexual orientation

  • 43.7% of Florida secondary schools taught students about sexual orientation in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 63.5% of Florida secondary schools taught students about sexual orientation in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported teaching about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression

  • 42.5% of Florida secondary schools taught students about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 61.7% of Florida secondary schools taught students about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression in a required course in any of grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.

Reported providing curricula or supplementary materials relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) youth

  • 53.4% of Florida secondary schools provided students with curricula or supplementary materials that included HIV, STD, or pregnancy prevention information relevant to LGBTQ youth.

(Visit the CDC’s School Health Profiles report for additional information on school health policies and practices.)

***The quality of sex education taught often reflects funding available for sex education programs. To learn more about federal funding streams, click here.

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