Oklahoma’s Sex Education Snapshot
Sex education continues to be a topic of debate among Oklahoma legislators, with legislation introduced over the past several years seeking to advance the quality of instruction young people receive. In 2021, Senator John Haste introduced Senate Bill 89 in an effort to require health and physical education be taught in all Oklahoma schools. If successful, the legislation will require instruction on the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate health decisions, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and responsible decision making. While the legislative text does not name sexuality education, sexual health information and healthy relationships instruction are both understood to be critical components of health education, and health educators may use this opportunity to provide advanced sex education.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, advocates report that sex education was abruptly halted; with online programming only being able to be implemented recently following months of development and preparation. Additionally, the pandemic has drastically limited the ability of sex education programs to reach students and resulted in uncertainty regarding the quality of sex education young people are receiving statewide. To further advance sex education, advocates have developed a Community of Practice for Sexual Health for state programs and partners.
In 2019, a trio of bills was introduced that sought to advance sex education. Senator Kay Floyd championed Senate Bill 926, successful legislation that requires curriculum related to human sexuality to include instruction on consent. Two additional bills, House Bill 1018 and Senate Bill 50, were introduced in an effort to update Oklahoma’s HIV/AIDS curriculum requirements and require school districts to provide communication training concerning pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention to parents and students. While both bills were unsuccessful, advocates are capitalizing on the success of Senate Bill 926 and working on a collaborative effort to require health education in elementary schools. With continued efforts like these, advocates are optimistic about further advancing sex education in Oklahoma.
Sex education is not currently mandated in Oklahoma and schools are only required to provide instruction on HIV/AIDS prevention. Because Oklahoma 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 young people. While Oklahoma City Public Schools are takings steps to improve sex education, advocates in more rural areas have taken it upon themselves to ensure young people in their communities receive adequate sex education. For example, some members of the Muscogee Creek Nation, a Native tribe headquartered in Okmulgee, have begun offering medically accurate sex education courses to young people in their community.
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. Advocates report that at least four different types of sex education curricula are used across the state, with students in larger cities such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa being more likely to receive sex education instruction. Thrive OKC, first formed in 2006 by six local organizations, provides opt-in medically accurate and evidence-based sex education to young people in Oklahoma City Public Schools and educates community members on pregnancy prevention. All students in the district receive sex education from outside agencies, including Thrive OKC, and advocates have noted that an increasing number of schools are providing comprehensive sex education.
Advocates report that the lack of a statewide mandate, funding and staff availability, and unfavorable public opinion in some communities are among the biggest barriers to providing comprehensive sex education to Oklahoma youth. Keeping these barriers in mind, advocates can take action right now to ensure young people in their community have access to quality sex education. After contacting their local school board, advocates can determine what topics are missing from sex education instruction, such as instruction on consent, sexual orientation and gender identity, and contraceptives. They can then vocalize the important need for advancing sex education requirements in their community and take action to address misinformation surrounding comprehensive sex education. 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
- Oklahoma schools are not required to teach sex education. However, they are required to provide HIV/AIDS prevention instruction.
- Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
- The primary purpose of the curriculum must be to inform students about abstinence.
- Curriculum is not required to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, instruction must highlight that “engaging in homosexual activity, promiscuous sexual activity, intravenous drug use, or contact with contaminated blood products is now known to be primarily responsible for contact with the AIDS virus.”
- Curriculum must include instruction on consent.
- Parents or guardians can submit written notification if they do not want their children to participate in sexuality and HIV/AIDS courses. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
- Oklahoma has no standard regarding medically accurate sex education curriculum. However, HIV/AIDS prevention curriculum must be medically 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 Oklahoma’s profile.
2021 Legislative Session
Senate Bill 89 (pending): If successful, would require schools to provide health and physical education. Curriculum must include instruction on the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate health decisions, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and responsible decision making.
2020 Legislative Session
House Bill 3090 (failed): Sought to require life skills classes to include instruction on consent.
Senate Bill 1368 (failed): Sought to require sex education curriculum to be approved for medical accuracy by the State Department of Health.
More on sex ed in Oklahoma…
Oklahoma does not require schools to teach sex education. However, according to Oklahoma Statutes 70-11-103.3 and 70-11-105.1, schools are required to provide human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) prevention education. This education must be limited to the “discussion of the disease AIDS and its spread and prevention” and include instruction on consent. The class must be taught once during either grade 5 or 6, once during grades 7–9, and once during grades 10–12. All curricula and materials must be checked for medical accuracy by the Oklahoma Department of Health and must only include “factual medical information for AIDS prevention.” Additionally,
D) AIDS prevention education shall specifically teach students that:
- Engaging in homosexual activity, promiscuous sexual activity, intravenous drug use, or contact with contaminated blood products is now known to be primarily responsible for contact with the AIDS virus;
- Avoiding the activities specified [above] is the only method of preventing the spread of the virus;
- Sexual intercourse, with or without condoms, with any person testing positive for HIV antibodies, or any other person infected with HIV, places that individual in a high-risk category for developing AIDS.
E) The program of AIDS prevention education shall teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain means for the prevention of the spread or contraction of the AIDS virus through sexual contact. It shall also teach that artificial means of birth control are not a certain means of preventing the spread of the AIDS virus, and reliance on such methods puts a person at risk for exposure to the disease.
If a school district chooses to teach sex education, all curricula and materials must be approved for medical accuracy by the state and by the district superintendent. All materials must also be available to parents for review. In addition, all sex education classes must have “the teaching of or informing students about the practice of abstinence” as one of their primary purposes.
A school district must provide written notification of all sex and HIV/AIDS prevention classes. Parents or guardians can submit written notification if they do not want their children to participate in such classes. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
Oklahoma’s Academic Standards for Health Education provides a standard for the development of health curricula. Sex education is not mentioned.
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. Oklahoma’s 2021 session convened on February 1, 2021.
|House Bill 4013||Modifies definition of obscene material to include books, magazines, and other written or drawn materials that depict sexual conduct or sexuality considered objectionable.||Died in the House Judiciary Criminal Committee (2022)||Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparency||http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2021-22%20INT/hB/HB4013%20INT.PDF|
|Senate Bill 9||Adding definition to child pornography statute but amended to further banning "obscene materials" from libraries related to sex, sexuality, or gender.||Failed (2022)||Sexually Explicit Materials||https://legiscan.com/OK/text/SB9/id/2569220/Oklahoma-2022-SB9-Comm_Sub.pdf|
|Senate Bill 1401||Prohibits schools from including instruction on critical race theory as part of curriculum and allows for parents to bring action otherwise.||Died in the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2022)||Racial Equity & Justice||https://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1427952|
|Senate Bill 1174||Provides that teachers are not compelled to discuss current events or certain controversial issues and that if they choose to do so they must discuss diverse perspectives.||Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Racial Equity & Justice||https://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1410514|
|Senate Bill 1164||Requires the schools designate restroom and changing facilities on the basis of biological sex.||Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1410023|
|House Bill 4245||Prohibits school districts and charter schools from allowing a student of a certain biological sex to participate in sports teams designated for the opposite biological sex.||Failed (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1432904|
|Senate Bill 615||Adds school counselors to list of school employees who must disclose and make available to parents materials dealing with sex education, particularly sexual orientation and gender identity. Counselors would also be required to disclose to a parent if their child comes to them with concerns about sexual orientation and gender identity.||Enacted (2022)||Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparency||http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2021-22%20ENGR/SB/SB615%20ENGR.PDF|
|House Bill 2988||Prohibits teaching divisive concepts in public schools.||Died in the House Committee on Common Education (2022)||Racial Equity & Justice||https://legiscan.com/OK/text/HB2988/id/2452914/Oklahoma-2022-HB2988-Introduced.pdf|
|Senate Bill 1442||Prohibits public schools from using certain funds to promote concepts of social emotional learning.||Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Sex Education||https://legiscan.com/OK/text/SB1442/id/2483657/Oklahoma-2022-SB1442-Introduced.pdf|
|Senate Bill 1470||Prohibits public schools from employing or contracting with individuals who promote positions in opposition to religious beliefs of students.||Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Sex Education||https://legiscan.com/OK/text/SB1470/id/2484266/Oklahoma-2022-SB1470-Introduced.pdf|
|Senate Bill 676||Prohibits gender-affirming medical procedures to any individual under 21.||Died in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/94472702f8a9ed7c1ec0b1036171f511c023568d868459e9a33f1b0a7c0a37294d6591b1b80be73947e285c983f50764|
|Senate Bill 2||Prohibits school districts and charter schools from allowing a student of a certain biological sex to participate in sports teams designated for the opposite biological sex.||Enacted (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/1818c75c3517cde0c29bf8d9f521abbaaf18f7ba954ef3f5d2e6f1f4110af2ddb450c13cbf5fc762c3184e8771906560|
|House Bill 2973||Prohibits any legislation from being enforceable that prohibits conversion therapy.||Died in the House Committee on State Powers (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/b625877f0ff48830eb79e7d288bd4652558df35ffcf19490eb9a34334c369413c806f0bf6aa66445a469242f2ad1bfb0|
|House Bill 4318||Parent's Bill of Rights, includes the right to attend meetings pertaining to the education of children.||Died in the House Committee on Common Education (2022)||Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparency||https://legiscan.com/OK/text/HB4318/id/2488713/Oklahoma-2022-HB4318-Introduced.pdf|
|Senate Bill 1654||Prohibits surveys or questionnaires from including topics related to gender and sexuality in the classroom and bans books on LGBTQ+ identities.||Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/d93595327ba4121ea34e13d3cea0e8de330068925cecced155b04e3612b14e0e95752e3cb378ffeacb3a4d20c9ca27aa|
|House Bill 4012||Creates written policy to challenge materials in the media program used by teachers. Establishes a community standards review board to review materials and complaints.||Died in the House Committee on Common Education (2022)||Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparency||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/1f6bda03f0b64aff7925c0b439b3ee1be8b95b5f005c0800e3417813f83452f14e79d6df8a8dcbf5a0397eca82abaab1|
|Senate Bill 1544||Provides that public schools or charter schools cannot knowingly enter into a transaction with an individual or entity that provides abortion care.||Failed (2022)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/9973fff2dc6299f3715306abf0228ccd29bb7fc173c3fe3e9e5e3d126e2f85e749e172a49be7a6ede421bdf5eaf98cd0|
|Senate Bill 1448||A school district, public charter school, or virtual charter school that administers any survey shall include as part of the survey an affidavit verifying that administration of the survey and the collection of survey responses complies with the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, 20 U.S.C. Section 1232h.||Died in Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Sex Education||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/cf313f22d0b644a6e6ab6cc29ee1bf7ba7c84ad9d66f7e027c2c1cf8ee09111694d4546cad6d9cb886019c0975fbd99c|
|House Bill 3240||Bans gender-affirming medical procedures to any individual under 18.||Died in House Committee on Public Health (2022)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c3f26cbfa7320664ca002bc29484b24c9c49e71d062ce7e01641928197651abc6b2409e1cbf4bd170a796cea90edacf2|
|Senate Bill 1268||Facilitate parental involvement in schools and local elections.||Died in Senate Committee on Education (2022)||Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparency||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c36727ac652f1a023b27d63e902c8860d384d87b837163535e9c47b56bc3a482d6d6ae1187dda51cb986ffe9dddcbb8a|
|Senate Bill 1225||Requires parental consent for minors accessing contraception or family planning counseling, names pregnant/parenting youth. Also requires parental consent re: any vaccinations.||Failed (2022)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/09c4d87b035bb67c87923abd735dfeea6fee145eb56bbb37dc74a5bcdaf7f5a4185b4fe2c0b18330a17058d0d7b779f8|
|Senate Bill 1142||Bans certain books from being in school libraries and creates a procedure for parents to object to specific books and have them removed from the library.||Died in Committee (2022)||Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparency||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/7ec3d37c63ecfe3869ac52c040e78d022aa1a3b4375b02c795c235e44139b53427d2397ea9e3dd079b0685aa5ee493e7|
|Senate Bill 612||Prohibits abortion unless in the case of a medical emergency.||Approved by Governor (2022)||Reproductive Health Care (2022)||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/acc2bac2e6528fa4a351ce2a66cf53dde7e8074fda3ac873934e71e11852fc3c6ff80ca22347c1ac2b41dacec0c0a4d8|
|House Joint Resolution 1027||Amends the Oklahoma constitution to grant fetal personhood.||Reported Do Pass Health and Human Services committee; CR filed (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/148be3f5e5ce8fe35f7243a2f3c64eaa1597704a078ee8521c26713845024762cdeb6f4eddae79e7abde5da731cba972|
|House Bill 1004||Prohibits the state or any subdivision of the state from prohibiting conversion therapy.||Referred to the House Committee on Children, Youth, And Family Services (2021)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/b4d9f0b8a51b2c9ca7c7b11787ce089b6248a54eb62a1a642aa5c5c2c92686700df870a6770daddab7ce6e1c6e9e1f8f|
|House Bill 1102||Prohibits abortion unless in the case of a medical emergency.||Enacted (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/82a60df4f6de47442b16490912531f3388cd933460e4200b7e60242a37923916c9d3ccf37e9c0a96f66593d4e645c347|
|House Bill 1641||Prohibits curriculum that promotes or degrades any race or gender or sexual orientation.||Withdrawn from the House Committee on Common Education, referred to the House Committee on Rules (2021)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/80eae0001dd142c8f4c31fa467604cdc7f57f5c735c5b046cb3b13a34163a9eb26b61e9217e68de48322ee255768c2cf|
|House Bill 2441||Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.||Enacted (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/1f5adbc0782b6d7fc0923dda5f1d68f93f27cbbe9ccccbb9c2bcd12e18e0646045839427aac2a8cc797802113d15c096|
|House Bill 2973||Prohibits efforts to outlaw conversion therapy.||First Reading (2021)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/b625877f0ff48830eb79e7d288bd4652558df35ffcf19490eb9a34334c369413c806f0bf6aa66445a469242f2ad1bfb0|
|Senate Joint Resolution 17||Amends the Oklahoma Constitution to grant fetal personhood; prohibiting abortion.||Referred to the Senate Committee on Rules (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/148be3f5e5ce8fe35f7243a2f3c64eaa1597704a078ee8521c26713845024762cdeb6f4eddae79e7abde5da731cba972|
|Senate Bill 89||Mandates the teaching of both health and physical education. Requires instruction on the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate health decisions, establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and responsible decision making.||Enacted (2021)||Sex Education||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/5383f17d5ca97c2915f3c0e505b41e1ea67b9e318af223e39fd789843cfa5e0043334bc94535d69a20484d55cf6f0fea|
|Senate Bill 495||Asserts that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, prohibiting abortion and classifying the procedure as murder.||Failed in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/2d03e7fbf617ff107376161dc9ae7c20f8e0dd6bcdd110c4cca627aaf86b90be2e567fce7af62582095bb99bea19496f|
|Senate Bill 583||Prohibits medical professionals from providing gender affirming care to minors.||Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2021)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/92e32a40636fe066860b3d69689cb0de0b8d3efc4c3ce357527ba5bb92c14e1191e2cfa02c3ee0bfe31e4b4664537815|
|Senate Bill 612||Prohibits abortion unless in the case of a medical emergency.||Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/acc2bac2e6528fa4a351ce2a66cf53dde7e8074fda3ac873934e71e11852fc3c6ff80ca22347c1ac2b41dacec0c0a4d8|
|Senate Bill 676||Prohibits medical professionals from providing gender affirming care to minors.||Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2021)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/94472702f8a9ed7c1ec0b1036171f511c023568d868459e9a33f1b0a7c0a37294d6591b1b80be73947e285c983f50764|
|Senate Bill 723||Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.||Second Reading referred to House Committee on Public Health (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/8651347cbd15b41d30e2cdcc0774692a87f28feed3017407ad6934d0585f4c87736f0ca5b76ed41ea4a67449813f6ed6|
|Senate Bill 918||Prohibits abortion in the case that Roe v. Wade is overruled or if an amendment to the United States Constitution is adopted permitting Oklahoma to prohibit abortion.||Enacted (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c1c1971eb64a6f564e7ea143f3775361a1c4f0f7d5e7045bd1f3dbcc20f32ca39828fbe9c0c008a58239e75030f28e9b|
|Senate Bill 923||Prohibits abortion in the case that Roe v. Wade is overruled or if an amendment to the United States Constitution is adopted permitting Oklahoma to prohibit abortion.||Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2021)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/56f6e97446a6d9bbe675cbd0be5ca8cfd26649535699b79e6f6e60c38c6edf5907bb6bb561ab4aa07404da3962c03a14|
|Senate Bill 1786||Prohibits physicians from performing abortions; doing so denies them the ability to obtain or renew their license to practice medicine.||Died in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2020)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/040c5e174772883b7f524dd9bb32d99829cb4d507a24304a8e44e89328ac4db2bc0b005826a11aaddcdb3ec35124bf66|
|Senate Bill 1368||Requires sex education curriculum to be reviewed for medical accuracy by the State Department of Health.||Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2020)||Sex Education||http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=SB%201368&session=2000|
|Senate Bill 1819||Prohibits minors from undergoing gender affirming medical treatment.||Died in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services (2020)||Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/9b249115f8090ac2fdb2912e05556724547399a906beb2ff5001c61cf4c61706be459dbd997d2e91dcc44ed738318091|
|Senate Bill 1859||Prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat or fetal brain waves are detected unless in the case of a medical emergency.||Died in the House (2020)||Reproductive Health Care||https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/48968b85d1615c6b935981a955556cfb8703c5538ecd550fe2a497e07097e9992541bb4d07999b2691f354789a849c08|
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 Oklahoma’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results, click here.
Oklahoma 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.
Oklahoma did not participate in the 2016 or 2018 School Health Profiles.
***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