State Profiles

Hawaii’s Sex Education Snapshot

The State of Sex Education

Advocates have successfully worked to advance sex education in Hawaii over the past five years. Hawaii schools are now required to teach sex education that is age appropriate, medically accurate and includes instruction on abstinence, contraception, and methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). And after years of dedicated campaigning from advocates, the State Board of Education voted to remove Hawaii’s “opt-in” policy and update Hawaii’s sex education requirements in 2015. The policy requires schools to provide sex education that is medically accurate, age appropriate, and culturally responsive.

Most recently, advocate efforts culminated in the introduction of House Bill 1697 and its companion in the Senate, Senate Bill 2652 in 2022. Introduced by Representative Amy Perruso in the House and Senator Laura Acasio in the Senate, this legislation would require the Department of Education (DOE) to provide comprehensive training for teachers and educational officers on sexual health topics that include positive and accurate representations of the LGBTQ+ community and other sexual orientations, gender identities, communities with disabilities, and communities of color, to destigmatize and promote sexual health.

Despite this success, advocates report that the state’s policies are not yet fully implemented in Hawaii schools. 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. Advocates believe that the Department of Education is not prioritizing sex education, which has resulted in delayed implementation of the newly mandated sex education requirements such as not taking steps to secure necessary resources, including funds for curricula or additional training for educators. In addition, curriculum is not required to be comprehensive or to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, advocates continue to try to get the Department of Education to report its progress in implementing the 2015 sex education policy to the legislature.

Right now, advocates can take action to ensure young people in their community have access to quality sex education. After contacting their local schools, advocates can determine what topics are currently missing from the sex education curriculum, such as legally mandated medically accurate and culturally responsive curriculum in addition to instruction on topics such as healthy relationships and consent. Advocates are encouraged to take action on pending legislation that seeks to advance or restrict the principles of comprehensive sex education. For a current overview of pending legislation, see table below. Additionally, reach out to EducateUs to get connected to local advocacy groups. Further, advocates can contact their representatives to discuss the critical need for the Department of Education to support schools in implementing the current sex education requirements and passing legislation that further advances sex education in Hawaii. 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

  • Hawaii schools are required to teach sex education.
    • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
    • Curriculum must include instruction on abstinence.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent. However, instruction must help students develop relationships and communication skills to form healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection and are free from violence, coercion and intimidation.
  • Parents and guardians can remove their children from sex education. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Curriculum must be medically accurate.

State House Highlights

This section highlights sex education bills that were introduced during the 2021 state legislative session as well as bills that have been introduced thus far in 2022. 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, racial equity and justice, parental rights, bullying and harassment, mental health, assault and violence prevention, and HIV/STIs as it impacts youth, continue reading on to the “State Legislative Activity” section of Hawaii’s profile.

2022 Legislative Session

House Concurrent Resolution 138 (pending): Requesting the DOE to create a student working group to address need for inclusion of diverse identities within sexual health education and to teach culturally responsive ideas for mutual respect in relationships

House Bill 1697 (pending): Aims to require the Department of Education to provide comprehensive training for teachers and educational officers on sexual health topics that include positive and accurate representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and other sexual orientations and gender identities and persons of color communities, to destigmatize and promote sexual health. Requires sexual health programs to include similar sexual health topics to destigmatize and promote sexual health. An identical companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

2021 Legislative Session

House Bill 1306 (pending): Aims to require schools to provide developmentally appropriate instruction on recognizing sexual violence.


More on sex ed in Hawaii…


State Law

Sexual health education is mandated in Hawaii as of 2015. The Hawaii State Board of Education was established by the Hawaii State Constitution, which grants the board power to formulate and establish statewide educational policy. On June 16, 2015, Hawaii’s Board of Education policy was updated to read, “the Department of Education shall provide sexual health education to include age appropriate, medically accurate health education that includes education on abstinence, contraception, and methods of infection prevention to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).” It further encourages students to communicate with their parents and/or guardians about sexuality and stresses that abstinence “from sexual intercourse is the surest way to prevent unintended pregnancies, [STIs] such as HIV/[acquired immunodeficiency syndrome] (AIDS), and consequent emotional distress.” Hawaii’s education policy 103-8 further states that birth control devices may be discussed during human reproduction studies. However, “the distribution of condoms and other prophylactic devices to students shall be prohibited in the classroom, on the school campus, or at any school-related activities.”

Hawaii does not require parental permission for students to participate in sexuality or HIV/AIDS education, but they may remove their children from the course. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.

State Standards

Hawaii’s Content and Performance Standards for health courses state that sexual health should be addressed, and the standards inform schools about which content areas must be covered. However, the standards do not give curricula guidelines or go into detail regarding what topics should be discussed. Examples provided in the standards include that the student should be able to identify “when and how to access health services (e.g., teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and mental health services).” Seven approved curricula are listed online.

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, attempts to restrict or prohibit instruction on “divisive concepts” such as Critical Race Theory, 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.  Hawaii’s 2022 session convened on January 17, 2022.

TitleDescriptionStatusLegislative Topic
Senate Concurrent Resolution 216Requests the Deparment of Education to ensure that existing child sexual abuse curriculum and training is in alignment with Erin's LawPassed Senate (2022)Assault & Violence Preventionhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SCR216_HD1_.HTM
House Bill 1304Prohibits biologically born males from competing in any athletic program offered by a public high school that is designated for women or girls, effectively targeting transgender studentsReferred to Education Committee (2021)Sexual Orientation & Gender Identityhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1291155
House Concurrent Resolution 138Requesting the DOE to create a student working group to address need for inclusion of diverse identities within sexual health education and to teach culturally responsive ideas for mutual respect in relationshipsReferred to Finance Committee (2022)Sex Educationhttps://legiscan.com/HI/text/HCR138/id/2547056/Hawaii-2022-HCR138-Introduced.html
Senate Bill 2821Requires the Department of Education to provide menstrual products free of charge to all students on all public school campuses. Requires the State Public Charter School Commission to provide menstrual products free of charge to all students on all public charter school campuses. Passed Legislature (2022)Health Disparities & Menstrual Equityhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2821_SD1_.HTM
House Bill 1701Requires the department of education to offer training for teachers, educational officers, and school-based behavioral health specialists on sex trafficking prevention and response.Referred to House Committee on Education; Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs; Finance (2022)Assault & Violence Preventionhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/HB1701_.HTM
House Bill 2315Establishes a grant program within the Office of Youth Services. Gives priority to programs that support youth from ethnic groups that are disproportionately represented in the State's correctional system, support rehabilitation, or meet needs identified by the Office of Youth Services in consultation with the community.Referred to House Committee on Health, Human Services, & Homelessness; Judiciary & Hawaiian Affairs; Finance (2022)Racial Equity & Justicehttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/HB2315_.HTM
Senate Bill 2141Requires the Department of Education to establish and implement a sexual abuse prevention education program to educate public and charter school students on sexual abuse prevention, provide relevant training to teachers and staff, and inform parents and guardians about important child sexual abuse topics. Requires the Board of Education to adopt policies to effectuate the program. Requires reports to the Legislature.Referred to Senate Committee on Education; Human Services; Ways and Means (2022)Assault & Violence Preventionhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2141_.HTM
Senate Bill 2241Permits minors to consent to medical care related to the diagnosis or treatment of HIV or the prevention of HIV. Provides that a minor, under certain circumstances, shall not be liable for payment for treatment or prevention of HIV. Authorizes physician assistants, in addition to physicians and advanced practice registered nurses, to render medical care and services to minors.Passed Senate; Passed House First Reading (2022)HIV/STIshttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2241_.HTM
House Bill 2249Requires the Department of Education to provide hygiene products that support public health, such as toilet paper, menstrual products, and hand soap free of charge to all students on all public school campuses. Requires the State Public Charter School Commission to provide hygiene products that support public health, such as toilet paper, menstrual products, and hand soap free of charge to all students on all public charter school campuses. Makes appropriations.Referred to House Committee on Education; Finance (2022)Health Disparities & Menstrual Equityhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/HB2249_.HTM
Senate Bill 2546Requires the Department of Education to provide hygiene products that support public health, such as toilet paper, menstrual products, and hand soap free of charge to all students on all public school campuses. Requires the State Public Charter School Commission to provide hygiene products that support public health, such as toilet paper, menstrual products, and hand soap free of charge to all students on all public charter school campuses. Makes appropriations.Passed Senate First Reading (2022)Health Disparities & Menstrual Equityhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2546_.HTM
Senate Bill 2565Requires DoE to offer training for teachers, educational officers, and school-based behavioral health specialists on sex trafficking prevention and response and develop protocols for providing resources to victims of sex trafficking.Passed Senate First Reading (2022)Assault and Violence Preventionhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2565_.HTM
Senate Bill 2613Codifies current Sustainable Development Goals adopted by United Nations which includes improving access to sexual and reproductive health services and education for youth.Referred to Senate Committee on Government Operations; Ways and Means (2022)Health Disparities & Menstrual Equityhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2613_.HTM
House Bill 1675Permits minors to consent to medical care related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV. Provides that a minor, under certain circumstances, shall not be liable for payment for treatment or prevention of HIV. Authorizes physician assistants, in addition to physicians and advanced practice registered nurses, to render medical care and services to minors.Referred to House Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs (2022)HIV/STIshttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/HB1675_.HTM
Senate Bill 2729Permits minors to consent to medical care related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV. Provides that a minor, under certain circumstances, shall not be liable for payment for treatment or prevention of HIV. Authorizes physician assistants, in addition to physicians and advanced practice registered nurses, to render medical care and services to minors.Passed Senate First Reading (2022)HIV/STIshttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/SB2729_.HTM
House Bill 2295Establishes the Parents' Bill of Rights and affirms that parents have the right to direct the education of their child; bill's language also points out the controversy of Critical Race Theory and why parents should be allowed to opt their children out of its instruction.Referred to House Committee on Health, Human Services, & Homelessness; Education; Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs (2022)Parental Rights & Curriculum Transparencyhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2022/bills/HB2295_.pdf
Senate Bill 2562Requires DOE to provide comprehensive training for teachers and educational officers on sexual health topics that include positive and accurate representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and other sexual orientations and gender identities and persons of color communities, to destigmatize and promote sexual health. Requires sexual health programs to include similar sexual health topics to destigmatize and promote sexual health.Passed Senate First Reading (2022)Sex Educationhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2562&year=2022
House Bill 1697Requires DOE to provide comprehensive training for teachers and educational officers on sexual health topics that include positive and accurate representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and other sexual orientations and gender identities and persons of color communities, to destigmatize and promote sexual health. Requires sexual health programs to include similar sexual health topics to destigmatize and promote sexual health.Passed the House; Referred to Senate Committee on Education; Health; Ways and Means (2022)Sex Educationhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=1697&year=2022
House Bill 11Requires standards based curriculum to be nondiscriminatory with regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex, color, religion, ancestry, or disability.Passed House; Referred to Senate Committee on Ways and Means (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2021/bills/HB11_.HTM
House Bill 478 Permits minors to consent to care related to the diagnosis or treatment of HIV. Introduced (2021) HIV/AIDS https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2021/bills/HB478_.HTM
House Bill 1306Requires schools to provide developmentally appropriate instruction on recognizing sexual violence. Referred to the House Committees on Finance; Education (2021) Assault & Violence Preventionhttps://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2021/bills/HB1223_.HTM
Senate Bill 25Permits minors to consent to care related to the diagnosis or treatment of HIV. Re-referred to the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce; Finance(2021) HIV/AIDS as it relates to young people https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2021/bills/SB25_.HTM
Senate Bill 841 Prohibits abortion if the fetus is capable of feeling pain. Referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2021/bills/SB841_.HTM

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 Hawaii’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results, click here.

Hawaii 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 Hawaii as reported for the 2017–2018 school year.

Reported teaching all 20 critical sexual health education topics

  • 25.4% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students all 20 critical sexual health education topics in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 59.5% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students all 19 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

  • 61.5% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students about the benefits of being sexually abstinent in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 88.4% of Hawaii 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

  • 53.9% of Hawaii 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.
  • 79.6% of Hawaii 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

  • 64.1% of Hawaii 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.
  • 92.7% of Hawaii 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

  • 53.9% of Hawaii 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.
  • 79.6% of Hawaii 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

  • 39.6% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students how to correctly use a condom in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 77.3% of Hawaii 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

  • 48.6% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students about methods of contraception other than condoms in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 83.5% of Hawaii 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

  • 36.8% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students about sexual orientation in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 74.3% of Hawaii 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

  • 38.6% of Hawaii secondary schools taught students about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 71.1% of Hawaii 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 

  • 49.4% of Hawaii 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.

 

Back to the SIECUS State Profiles

SIGN UP FOR EMAIL UPDATES

Interested in receiving the latest updates from SIECUS? Join our email list today.