State Profiles

Minnesota’s Sex Education Snapshot

Advocates have taken incremental steps to improve sex education in Minnesota over the past decade, most recently culminating in the introduction of three bills aiming to advance sex education requirements. House Bill 1414, introduced by Representative Todd Lippert, sought to require the commissioner of education to develop a comprehensive sex education program for public and charter schools. Senate Bill 2065, an identical companion bill, was introduced in the Senate by Senator Susan Kent. Senate Bill 1498 was introduced by Senator Patricia Torres Ray in an effort to require schools to provide instruction for at least one hour per year on personal body safety for students in grades K-12. While all three bills ultimately failed, advocates in Minnesota are actively planning future efforts to pass legislation that ensures youth receive comprehensive sex education.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, advocates report that they have used this time to widen their coalition table and strategize for virtual organizing tactics to advance sex education. They are hopeful that with continued efforts, advanced sex education legislation will be introduced during 2021.

While Minnesota schools are required to provide instruction on STIs and abstinence, curriculum is not required to be comprehensive, culturally responsive to the needs of young people of color, or include topics such as sexual orientation, gender identity, consent, and healthy relationships.

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.

Advocates report that the patchwork education youth receive, ranging from comprehensive instruction to abstinence-only instruction, fails to provide the skills and information they need to determine what is best for their health and their future. Students report that instruction often lacks information on sexual health and consent, fails to address the health needs of LGBTQ students, and relies on fear tactics to deter youth from engaging in sexual activity. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood North Central States have established multiple programs to fill the gap in access to quality sex education. As the largest provider of comprehensive sex education in the state, Planned Parenthood provides eight different education programs to address the needs of Minnesota youth. Advocates report additional, increased community support is needed to advance sex education. In addition, an increased ability to advance public knowledge surrounding sex education and address common myths and concerns regarding advanced programming is essential in furthering the ability of youth to receive advanced instruction.

Currently, advocates report that increased coalition building is necessary to strengthen efforts to implement comprehensive sex education, providing interested community members an opportunity to strengthen sex education requirements at the local and state level. After contacting their local school board, advocates can determine what topics are missing from sex education instruction, such as curriculum that is medically accurate and culturally responsive to the needs of young people of color, or instruction on topics consent, healthy relationships, sexual orientation, gender identity, and contraception. They can then vocalize the important need for advancing sex education requirements in their community. 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

  • Minnesota schools are required to teach sex education.
  • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
  • Curriculum must include instruction that helps students abstain from sexual activity until marriage.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Curriculum is not required to include instruction on consent.
  • Curriculum must be available for parental review. Parents or guardians may remove their children from instruction if they object to the content. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Minnesota has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education. However, curriculum is required to be “technically accurate.”

State House Highlights

This section highlights sex education bills that were introduced during the 2020 state legislative session as well as bills that have been introduced thus far in 2021. 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 Minnesota’s profile.

2021 Legislative Session

House File 345 (pending): Aims to prohibits school districts from providing sex education prior to receiving parental consent. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.

House File 358 (pending): Aims to require the commissioner of education to identity one or more comprehensive sex education program for elementary and secondary school students. The model program must then be accessible to school districts, including written materials, curriculum resources, and training for instructors. Requires schools to provide comprehensive sex education starting in the 2023-2024 school year that’s appropriate for all students; including students with disabilities and students enrolled in a state approved alternative program. An identical, companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

2020 Legislative Session
House File 3147 (failed): Sought to require each school district to update their procedure for parents and guardians to review the content of instructional materials. This bill will also prohibits school districts from providing sex education prior to receiving parental consent. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy.

More on sex ed in Minnesota…


State Law

Minnesota Statutes §§ 120B.20 and 121A.23 require every school district to develop and implement a comprehensive risk-reduction program “including but not exclusive to human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] and human papilloma virus [HPV].”  While the state has not developed a specific curriculum, each school district must have “a comprehensive, technically accurate, and updated curriculum that includes helping students to abstain from sexual activity until marriage” and must target “adolescents, especially those who may be at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections [STIs] and [sexually transmitted] diseases [STDs], for prevention efforts.”

Minnesota also requires each school district to:

[H]ave a procedure for a parent, guardian, or an adult student (18 years of age or older) to review the content of the instructional materials to be provided to a minor child or to an adult student and, if the parent, guardian, or adult student objects to the content, to make reasonable arrangements with school personnel for alternative instruction.

State Standards

Minnesota’s National Health Education Standards and Minnesota Benchmarks provide guidance for local school district curriculum development. The standards do not mention contraception or condoms, but they briefly mention HIV transmission and unintended pregnancy.

State Legislative Activity

State legislative activity 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 healthcare 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. Minnesota’s 2021 Session convened on January 5, 2021. 

TitleDescriptionStatusLegislative Topic
House File 259Establishes the right of any person to choose or refuse reproductive health care, choose or refuse contraception or sterilization, and choose or refuse to give birth to a child, or to choose to obtain an abortion. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/fda4cf96888cf506f540f19294de2362268f503d4fc9c6493044d127f6d7434f2f77b09d41137ed1d154e92ffbf8e86d
House File 345 Prohibits school districts from providing sex education prior to receiving parental consent.Referred to the House Committee on Education Policy (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/25744f201c71ad2aae3548927c206544d0801dd74e0f1179690e553e54a62b651e365469e4d18b3a1f523f84638607ae
House File 358Requires the commissioner of education to identity one or more comprehensive sex education program for elementary and secondary school students. The model program must then be accessible to school districts, including written materials, curriculum resources, and training for instructors. Requires schools to provide comprehensive sex education starting in the 2023-2024 school year that’s appropriate for all students; including students with disabilities and students enrolled in a state approved alternative program.Returned to the House Committee on Education Policy (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/23c79a3dddc6b0d45fd46b9d4413a502480bc69479ddf6efcd4de827fb4313b887a08e8fb7e58b47baedaf1f92214ffa
House File 262Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected unless in the case of a medical emergency. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/b8a37bb565e4a13b4ea392285b727286a406c6b0aa2b30a141da2f410a0dbd6bc60088d2345820608b70622bd5d5dd0d
House File 643 Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Referred to the Senate committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/470fac396569c5eca60a4862904a7e5197e64a3f7a39b4268d0c6330f92862f5ec9a2956f622c8b9ce2bd6e301f6d2de
House File 2156Prohibits health practitioners from engaging in conversion therapy with minors or vulnerable adults. Referred to the House Committee on Health Finance and Policy (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/53bcfc09cb683259389b96ebbfc1b0bf4740bfb4814293df71302b5eed02b2d31372f19058de58ff2a1effe1ea003d82
Senate File 223 Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected unless in the case of a medical emergency. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/5955d2f6d745a3ce2e54165641291dbda43ff4aaf87ffd72464e7ee9c23f283a9f5ced73dba3b1599b510e33f5fa75e3
Senate File 356 Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/dc2189ea0d64f176dd90ca5fc7dda804073883fe64e41dd7fdb1d8f2dc9855a321a4dbdaaa18d5452f446621b9db5e70
Senate File 360 Establishes a Council on LGBTQI Minnesotans and prohibits medical professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with minors. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human services Finance and Policy (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/f0a628eb55611972b8f70834606863b7ed5ab171cfcd5f4cd887318a389b6b24ccbefa1050d1f411c4eb69a361c66645
Senate File 632Requires the commissioner of education to identity one or more comprehensive sex education program for elementary and secondary school students. The model program must then be accessible to school districts, including written materials, curriculum resources, and training for instructors. Requires schools to provide comprehensive sex education starting in the 2023-2024 school year that’s appropriate for all students; including students with disabilities and students enrolled in a state approved alternative program.Referred to the Senate Committee on Higher Education Finance and Policy (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/0521c1badc8a7065257bdb4f7132ec142c51d687ced148ea1901e01315d63ba6c95a1a879daa15872f92d59c4f183516
Senate File 731Asserts that every individual has a fundamental right ot make autonomous decisions about their own reproductive health, including the right to chooose ore fuse reproductive health care, choose or refuse contraception or sterilization, and choose to continue a pregnancy and give birth or choose to obtain an abortion. Further asserts that every individual has a fundamental right of privacy with respect to these decisions, and that the state shall not interfere with the right to make these reproductive health care decisions. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/d010d673b8ec02c403156f284fa060909e0dd99b52f6e55139f3d60bce44fdcaba2b76d1956b8dec18599b6a21d7137d
Senate File 1871Prohibits health practitioners from engaging in conversion therapy with minors or vulnerable adults. Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/fdbabcd6521acdfa790c4a80a112f6fee4462b3ecf603c5b1ae0c061ab9c5a95c9f9ada9b0744eff13faec05d6476c04
House File 2041Prohibits mental health practitioners and professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor. Died in the House Committee on Health and Human Services (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/0f9c0e9bf08413c4f287ecc45549529b7a804ed72b6b7d2ed2a923b06774c20c9723819bde196590ad428b8ad94fd232
House File 3147Requires each school district to update their procedure for parents and guardians to review the content of instructional materials to include textbooks, print content, videos, prerecorded materials, and online resources upon request. Prohibits school districts from providing sex education prior to receiving parental consent. This is referred to as an “opt-in” policy. Died in the House Committee on Education Policy (2020)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/0d87d714238c49931228f2fd0b71941b35a9a016f7235937ba0cea8fb0723a3d6ccfbee0ac02a16e3d3af9ef3ee8955a
Senate File 4061Prohibits health care professionals from engaging in conversion therapy with a minor. Died in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Finance and Policy (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/7d631259f5301b68ebdeae518a615ddec32ed23d5e8fdbbe51e12b26a229cb30db7c2df6feaac04f5e067301e6473ff5
House File 4694Prohibits gender affirmation surgery for minors.Died in the House Committee on Health and Human Services Policy (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/1d7db37e79caa7cf2e4b5c0c19ed5e71b5dd3a11432b645985c7aeaaf88f1fc12fb49037f681b0b9fe3cc9492a9a5da1

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 Minnesota’s Health of Adolescents Survey results, click here.

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

Reported teaching all 20 critical sexual health education topics

  • 15.1% of Minnesota secondary schools taught students all 20 critical sexual health education topics in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 42% of Minnesota 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

  • 78.9% of Minnesota secondary schools taught students about the benefits of being sexually abstinent in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 94.1% of Minnesota 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

  • 64.8% of Minnesota 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.
  • 92.2% of Minnesota 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

  • 81% of Minnesota 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.
  • 93.4% of Minnesota 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

  • 58.9% of Minnesota 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.
  • 87.6% of Minnesota 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

  • 27.6% of Minnesota secondary schools taught students how to correctly use a condom in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 62.1% of Minnesota 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

  • 42.6% of Minnesota secondary schools taught students about methods of contraception other than condoms in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 82.5% of Minnesota 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

  • 31.4% of Minnesota secondary schools taught students about sexual orientation in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 58.3% of Minnesota 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

  • 35.2% of Minnesota secondary schools taught students about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 62% of Minnesota 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 

  • 52.4% of Minnesota 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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