State Profiles

Louisiana’s Sex Education Snapshot

The State of Sex Education

Since 2019, Louisiana has experienced a surge of regressive action intended to limit access to reproductive health care, most notably culminating in the Supreme Court case June Medical Services v. Gee. The case could have effectively eliminated abortion statewide, and have had a devastating national impact. Fortunately, the Supreme Court struck down the restrictive abortion access law. Despite this, the threat to reproductive healthcare access for young people remains. 

In addition to defending reproductive health care, advocates are tirelessly fighting to improve sex education across the state. The Louisiana Adolescent Reproductive Health Coalition (LARHC) has led efforts to engage legislators to increase support for access to comprehensive sex education. They were successful in pushing a bill that would ensure the sexuality component of the YRBS to be administered in public schools out of the House but were ultimately unsuccessful in getting it passed into law. Unfortunately, New Orleans schools are entirely handled by charter management organizations (CMOs). Progressive policies within CMOs can allow for better sex education in some schools, but not all of them. This inconsistency between schools only exacerbates inequity. Efforts to advance sex education at the state level have been largely unsuccessful due to opposition from the Louisiana Family Forum, which has a significant base of supporters that routinely turn out to oppose sex education efforts.

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. In Louisiana, Black youth in particular face racist, systematic barriers to health care and education that result in disproportionate adverse health outcomes. For example, the majority of new HIV diagnoses in Louisiana in 2018 were among African Americans. To continue to advance sex education, advocates note that a culture of accountability and evaluation of learning standards is necessary for new, comprehensive policy implementation.

Despite the numerous challenges to advance sex education at the state level, advocates can take action to ensure young people in their community have access to quality sex education. A recent survey by the Louisiana Public Health Institute revealed that 84 percent of parents believe sex education is an important part of school curriculum, indicating that there is a unique opportunity to build a diverse base of local support to advance 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 LGBTQ youth and instruction on 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 advancing comprehensive sex education requirements. 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

  • Louisiana schools are not required to teach sex education. However, schools are required to teach health education, which includes instruction on sexual risk behaviors, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs.
    • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
    • If sex education is offered, curriculum must emphasize abstinence as the expected social standard.
    • If sex education is offered, curriculum must not include any sexually explicit materials depicting homosexual activity.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
  • Parents or guardians may remove their children from sex education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Louisiana has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education instruction. However, if a school chooses to teach sex education, instruction must be based on factual biological or pathological information.

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 Louisiana’s profile.

No bills have been introduced concerning sex education to date.


More on sex ed in Louisiana…


State Law

Louisiana statute does not require schools to offer sex education, but Louisiana Revised Statute §17:24.4(E) states that “the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education … shall develop and establish statewide curriculum standards for required subjects to be taught in the public elementary and secondary schools of [the] state.” Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, all incoming 9th graders are required to take 1/2 credit of health education. Under this authority, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education promulgated Part LIX. Bulletin 103 to describe the state’s health education content standards. From grades 7–12, students learn about sexual abstinence and sexual risk behaviors; in grades 4 and 7–12, students receive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted disease (STD) education.

Louisiana Revised Statute §§17:281 mandates that sex education cannot be offered in grades K–6, except in Orleans Parish, which may offer sex education in grade 3 and above. If a student is parenting or pregnant, schools must provide this education “regardless of the student’s grade level.” The education must be integrated into “an existing course of study such as biology, science, physical hygiene, or physical education.” It cannot include “religious beliefs, practices in human sexuality, nor the subjective moral and ethical judgments of the instructor or other persons. Students shall not be tested, quizzed, or surveyed about their personal or family beliefs or practices in sex, morality, or religion.”

Classes may not include “any sexually explicit materials depicting male or female homosexual activity.” They also may not in “any way counsel or advocate abortion.” In addition, this education must emphasize that:

  • Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage is the expected standard for all school-age children;
  • Abstinence from sexual activity is a way to avoid unwanted pregnancy, STDs, including AIDS, and other associated health problems;
  • Each student has the power to control personal behavior and to encourage students to base action on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others.

Louisiana Revised Statute §§17:279 requires that all public high schools offering home economics classes must also provide “parenthood education” and include the following topics about family living and community relationships: the consequences of the lack of adequate prenatal care, home management, and the responsibilities of parenthood. In addition, Louisiana Revised Statutes Annotated §§ 17:263 requires that adoption awareness be included in any health education or appropriate class. This includes instruction on “the benefits of adoption for families wishing to add a child, for potential adoptees, and for persons who are pregnant or who have a child for whom they are unable to care.”

In 2018, Louisiana enacted Act 369, requiring schools to provide parents with information regarding “the public health risks and harms associated with pornography,” including “the dangers of sexually charged cyberbullying,” as well as “the addictive and destructive nature of pornographic and illicit materials.”

Parents or guardians may remove their children from sex education classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.

State Standards

Louisiana’s Health Education Handbook outlines expectations that should be mastered by the end of each grade level and defines sexual health as:

“[T]he area of health education encompassing a broad scope of concepts and skills, including acquiring information about sexual development, reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, body image, and gender roles; recognizing habits that protect female and male reproductive health; and learning about pregnancy, childbirth, and the development of infants and children. It also includes skill development in areas such as communication, decision-making, refusal techniques, and goal-setting. Sexual health topics are grounded in the premise that sexuality is a natural, ongoing process that begins in infancy and continues through life.”

The handbook also delineates abstinence as the “safest, most effective risk avoidance method of protection from HIV, STDs, and pregnancy.

Furthermore, according to the Louisiana Handbook for School Administrators- Bulletin 741, students must be taught “the principal modes by which communicable diseases, including, but not limited to, HIV infection, are spread and the best methods for the restriction and prevention of these diseases.” Schools are prohibited from distributing any “contraceptive or abortifacient drug, device, or other similar product.”

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. Louisiana’s 2022 session convenes March 14, 2022.

TitleDescriptionStatusLegislative Topic
House Resolution 169Requests State Board to adopt a policy that would prohibit teachers from discussing their sexual orientation or gender identity with studentsDied in House Committee on Education (2022)Sexual Orientation & Gender Identityhttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1281673
House Resolution 145Requests the DoE to study transparency and parental access to curriculum materialsPassed Legislature (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1279292
House Bill 440Requires schools to provide age-appropriate instruction in prevention of eating disordersEnacted (2022)Mental Healthhttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1277437
House Bill 981Requires age appropriate instruction on mental health in grades K-12.Enacted (2022)Mental Healthhttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1275378
House Bill 989Imposes further restrictions from the court system on minors trying to access abortion care in Louisiana.Failed in House (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1273705
Senate Bill 358Requires elementary and secondary schools to implement a program to prohibit and prevent bullying.Enacted (2022)Bullying and Harassmenthttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1272251
House Bill 495Requires the implementation of suicide prevention and student safety and violence and social isolation prevention training and the creation of clubs at certain public schoolsEnacted (2022)Mental Healthhttps://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=1269731
House Bill 414Provides that parents have a right that the school shall not discriminate against their children by teaching them they are "currently or destined to be oppressed or to be an oppressor.."Dead (2022)Racial Equity & Justicehttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1465619
House Bill 356Provides for the right of parents to access and examine lessons used in their child's educationFailed in House (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1465308
House Bill 75Requires each public school to post on its website information relative to instructional materials and activities for each school under its jurisdictionDied in House Committee on Education (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1454830
House Bill 369Requires public schools to post website information for instructional material for parents and establishes the Parents Bill of Rights for Public SchoolsEnacted (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB369/id/2534194/Louisiana-2022-HB369-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 453Requires public schools to post website information for instructional materials before a certain dateDied in House Committee on Education (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB453/id/2535705/Louisiana-2022-HB453-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 195Requires public schools to provide free menstrual products in student restrooms or other easily accessible locationsFailed in House (2022)Health Disparities and Menstrual Equityhttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB195/id/2529435/Louisiana-2022-HB195-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 808Prohibits schools from teaching that "child is destined to be oppressed or oppressor " based on child's race or national originDied in House Committee on Education (2022)Racial Equity & Justicehttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB808/id/2547792/Louisiana-2022-HB808-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 837Prohibits instruction on LGBTQ+ identity in K-8, prohibits educators from discussing their sexual orientationDied in House Committee on Education (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?s=22RS&b=HB837&sbi=y
House Bill 787Requires public schools to allow parents to review school curriculum, including topics regarding divisive concepts.Died in House Committee on Education (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB787/id/2538544/Louisiana-2022-HB787-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 570Prohibits gender affirming care being provided to minorsDied in House Committee on Health and Welfare (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB570/id/2536689/Louisiana-2022-HB570-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 747Requires instruction on the "I Have a Dream" speech and prohibits including certain concepts regarding sex, race, ethnicity, and national origin in content standards, curricula, textbooks, and staff professional development programsDied in House Committee on Education (2022)Racial Equity & Justicehttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB747/id/2538155/Louisiana-2022-HB747-Introduced.pdf
House Bill 605Prohibits certain licensed professionals from engaging with any minor in the practice known as conversion therapyDied in House Committee on Health and Welfare (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://legiscan.com/LA/text/HB605/id/2537529/Louisiana-2022-HB605-Introduced.pdf
Senate Bill 44Requires that schools designate sports teams according to biological sex. Prohibits biological males from playing on female sports teams.Enacted (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/f0274bbc853d3a1d58330f9d013e57c728b76de8df0eb0f9e043c7f4b016b345f88866e85d0f8840bba29677da0c32c8
Senate Bill 104Requires parental consent prior to a minor receiving gender affirming care. Died in the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/24b04a9cc704c41e2c3c0d74faf49aa91b1d6df0706162bc1744ed8a655c2b281398f7f9bc5b0d55020e9822aff44886

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

Louisiana 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.

Louisiana did not participate in the 2018 School Health Profiles. Below are key instruction highlights for secondary schools in Louisiana as reported for the 2015–2016 school year. In this edition of the School Health Profiles, the CDC identified 19 sexual health education topics and has since updated the number of topics to 20.

Reported teaching all 19 critical sexual health education topics

  • 11% of Louisiana secondary schools taught students all 19 critical sexual health education topics in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 16% of Louisiana 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

  • 38.9% of Louisiana secondary schools taught students about the benefits of being sexually abstinent in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 72.9% of Louisiana 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

  • 35.5% of Louisiana 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.
  • 70.6% of Louisiana 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

  • 44.8% of Louisiana 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.
  • 72.3% of Louisiana 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

  • 31.1% of Louisiana 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.
  • 61.8% of Louisiana 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

  • 13.5% of Louisiana secondary schools taught students how to correctly use a condom in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 22.2% of Louisiana 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

  • 21.1% of Louisiana secondary schools taught students about methods of contraception other than condoms in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 42.1% of Louisiana 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

  • 19.5% of Louisiana secondary schools taught students about sexual orientation in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 31.5% of Louisiana 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

  • 20.4% of Louisiana secondary schools taught students about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 34.3% of Louisiana 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

  • 23.9% of Louisiana 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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