State Profiles

Tennessee’s Sex Education Snapshot

The State of Sex Education 

In 2012 the Tennessee legislature passed Senate Bill 3310, a restrictive measure known as the “Gateway Law.” Under this legislation, family life education programs and sex education courses are prohibited from including instruction on “gateway sexual activity” that encourages youth to engage in “non-abstinent behavior.” Educators who fail to comply could face punitive measures, including a $500 fine. Sex education advocates have routinely pushed back against this restrictive legislation and have attempted to pass requirements for comprehensive sex education. In 2017, Senate Bill 1510, sponsored by Senator Becky Duncan Massey, passed into law. This legislation requires sexual abuse education in schools. Despite this success, similar efforts have been largely unsuccessful.

Tennessee passed more restrictive measures on sex education and health care for minors in 2021 with House Bill/Senate Bill 1229 and House Bill 1027. House Bill/Senate Bill 1229, introduced by Representative Debra Moody, requires schools to provide parental notification at least 30 days prior to commencing instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in any subject and permits parents to opt their children out of such instruction. House Bill 1027, introduced by Representative Sabi Kumar and enacted on May 21, prohibits medical professionals from providing gender-affirming care to minors prior to puberty.

Other recently enacted laws (Senate Bill 1360 and House Bill 577/Senate Bill 1392) have a mixed impact on sex education. Senate Bill 1360 advances education by requiring each local education agency to provide family life education. House Bill 577/Senate Bill 1392 amends requirements regarding instruction on contraception to ensure it is medically accurate, age-appropriate, in compliance with state statute, aligned to state academic standards, and available for parental review.

In 2022, additional harmful legislation concerning sex education was introduced in Tennessee. Senate Bill 2158, introduced by Senator Joseph Hensley, aims to prohibit schools from allowing entities who perform, provide referrals for, advocate for, or promote abortions from teaching family life education curriculum. A companion bill, House Bill 2557, was introduced in the House by Representative Debra Moody. House Bill 2557 was enacted on April 29, 2022. Senate Bill 1216, introduced by Senator Frank Niceley, would prohibit instructional materials in schools that include information on LGBTQ+ identities. A similar bill, House Bill 800, was introduced in the House in 2021 by Representative Bruce Griffey and carried over to 2022.

Collaborative efforts are underway to introduce a comprehensive sex education bill in the future, although increased grassroots action is critical to its passage. Advocates note that incremental efforts to build a strong base of support are essential to ensure future success. 

In addition to coordinated efforts to pass advanced sex education requirements statewide, advocates note that much needs to be done at the local level as well. Because Tennessee 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 teach young people. Due to the state’s restrictive mandate, schools in Tennessee can only provide abstinence-centered curriculum, which is often called “sexual risk avoidance” programming.  There is also a prominent fear of discussing restricted topics that remains prevalent among educators in the state. Students report that educators often use shame-based, stigmatizing educational tools that target young women and LGBTQ students. These approaches create unsafe and hostile environments for young people. Curriculum has also been reported to lack critical topics such as contraceptive methods, STI prevention, and consent. While all young people in Tennessee are adversely impacted by restrictive sex education curriculum, Black youth in particular are put at a significant disadvantage. SisterReach, a reproductive justice organization based in Memphis, released a report in 2015 detailing the unique barriers that Black young people face in accessing comprehensive sex education and found that 90 percent of youth surveyed reported that they received inadequate information and felt unable to make informed decisions about their own bodies and sexual choices.

Right now, advocates can take action to ensure young people in their community have access to quality sex education. Advocates can also identify what sex education requirements are currently in place in their district and advocate for the inclusion of specific elements of comprehensive sex education, such as requiring curriculum to be culturally responsive to youth of color and LGBTQ youth. 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. 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

  • Tennessee schools are required to teach family life education.
    • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
    • Curriculum must stress abstinence.
  • Local education agencies in Tennessee counties whose pregnancy rate exceeds 19.5 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15–17 are required to develop and implement a family life education program promoting “sexual risk avoidance” and prohibiting “gateway sexual activity”.
  • Tennessee statute does not require curriculum to include instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Curriculum must include instruction on the age of consent.
  • Parents and guardians must be notified at least 30 days prior to commencing instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity and are able to remove their children from sex education instruction upon written request. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
  • Curriculum must be medically accurate.
  • Educators who violate the “Gateway Law”, prohibiting family life education programs and sex education courses from including instruction on “gateway sexual activity” that encourages youth to engage in “non-abstinent behavior” could face punitive measures, including a $500 fine.

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 Tennessee’s profile.

2022 Legislative Session

Senate Bill 1216 (Pending): Aimes to prohibit the state textbook and instructional materials quality commission from recommending or listing, the state board of education from approving for local adoption or from granting a waiver for, and local education agencies and public charter schools from adopting or using textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles. An identical companion bill was introduced in the House.

Senate Bill 2158 (Enacted): Aims to prohibit local education agencies (LEAs) or public charter schools from knowingly entering into an agreement with an individual or entity that performs abortions, induces abortions, provides abortion referrals, or provides funding, advocacy, or other support for abortions. An identical companion bill was introduced and enacted in the House.

2021 Legislative Session 

House Bill 529 (enacted): Requires each school to notify parents at least 30 days prior to providing instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in sex education or any other program. Allows parents to review the curriculum and submit a written request if they wish to remove their children from instruction. An identical, companion bill was also introduced in the Senate.

House Bill 577 (enacted): Aims to prohibit providing minors with information that promotes any “gateway sexual activity” or health messages that encourages students to experiment with non-heterosexual sex. Further prohibits providing or distributing material on school grounds that condones, encourages, or promotes sexual activity among unmarried minors, displaying or conducting demonstrations with devices manufactured for sexual stimulation, or distributing contraception on school property. In order to receive contraceptives from a health care professional, parental consent must be obtained. An identical, companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

House Bill 1307 (pending): Requires youth development centers to provide sex education. An identical, companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

Senate Bill 125 (failed): Aims to require all schools to provide family life education. Prohibits any person person on school property or present at any school sponsored activity or program from making abortion referrals or advocating or encouraging abortion.

Senate Bill 646 (pending): Requires schools to teach medically accurate, age appropriate sex education that includes instruction on abstinence, contraception, consent, and healthy relationships. Curriculum must be appropriate for students regardless of their gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation.

Senate Bill 1360 (enacted): Requires each local education agency to provide family life education.


More on sex ed in Tennessee…


State Law

Tennessee law (§ 49-6-1302, 49-6-1304, and 49-6-1305) requires local education agencies to develop and implement a family life education program. These programs must promote “sexual risk avoidance” as their primary goal, and instruction that promotes “gateway sexual activity” is prohibited. Statute § 49-6-1304 was recently amended to include “provid[ing] instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse, including such abuse that may occur in the home” as a required topic in family life curricula.

If such family life education programs are provided, they must:

  1. Emphatically promote sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student’s current or prior sexual experience;
  2. Encourage sexual health by helping students understand how sexual activity affects the whole person, including the physical, social, emotional, psychological, economic, and educational consequences of non-marital sexual activity;
  3. Teach the positive results of avoiding sexual activity, the skills needed to make healthy decisions, the advantages of and skills for student success in pursuing educational and life goals, the components of healthy relationships, and the social science research supporting the benefits of reserving the expression of human sexual activity for marriage;
  4. Provide factually and medically accurate information;
  5. Teach students how to form pro-social habits that enable students to develop healthy relationships, create strong marriages, and form safe and stable future families;
  6. Encourage students to communicate with a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult about sex or other risk behaviors;
  7. Assist students in learning and practicing refusal skills that will help them resist sexual activity;
  8. Address the benefits of raising children within the context of a marital relationship and the unique challenges that single teen parents encounter in relation to educational, psychological, physical, social, legal, and financial factors;
  9. Discuss the interrelationship between teen sexual activity and exposure to other risk behaviors such as smoking, underage drinking, drug use, criminal activity, dating violence, and sexual aggression;
  10. Educate students on the age of consent, puberty, pregnancy, childbirth, sexually transmitted diseases [STDs], including but not limited to human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS], and the financial and emotional responsibility of raising a child;
  11. Teach students how to identify and form healthy relationships, and how to identify and avoid unhealthy relationships;
  12. Inform students, in all [schools], concerning the process of adoption and its benefits; and
  13. Provide instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse, including such abuse that may occur in the home.

Tennessee Code allows students to be removed from sex education classes upon written request from their parent or guardian. This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.

State Standards

The Tennessee Health Education Standards include instruction on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, beginning in grade 3. Beginning in grade 6, the standards include the expectation that students will learn to “identify abstinence from sexual activity as the responsible and preferred choice for adolescents.” The Tennessee Lifetime Wellness Curriculum Standards , which students must complete in order to graduate high school, mandate a section on sexuality and relationships. The standards describe abstinence as a “positive choice” but also include instruction on contraception.

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. Tennessee’s 2022 session convened on January 11, 2022.

TitleDescriptionStatusLegislative Topic
Senate Bill 2153Prohibits the participation of individuals assigned male at birth from participating in interscholastic girls sports teams.Passed the Legislature, Transmitted to the Governor to be Signed (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1442588
House Bill 1944Prohibits schools from allowing "obscene materials" in instructional materials or through school libraries.Passed House (2022); Transmitted to the Senate and Passed on First Consideration (2022)Sexually Explicit Materialshttps://legiscan.com/TN/text/HB1944/id/2490250/Tennessee-2021-HB1944-Draft.pdf
Senate Bill 1944Prohibits schools from allowing "obscene materials" in instructional materials or through school libraries.Deferred to Summer Study (2022)Sexually Explicit Materialshttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1437263
House Bill 2154Creates the "Age Appropriate Materials Act of 2022" which requires all public schools to maintain and post on the school's website a list of materials in the school's library collection and adopt procedures for review of materials.Referred to the House Committee on Calendar and Rules (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1442261
Senate Bill 1862Prohibits the participation of individuals assigned male at birth from participating in interscholastic girls sports teams.Referred to the Senate Committee on Education (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1430573
Senate Bill 1861Prohibits Local Education Agencies from providing funds to school sports that fail to require participation in school sports on the basis of biological sex.Referred to the Senate Committee on Calendar (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://legiscan.com/TN/text/SB1861/id/2578119/Tennessee-2021-SB1861-Chaptered.pdf
House Bill 1895Prohibits Local Education Agencies from providing funds to school sports that fail to require participation in school sports on the basis of biological sex.Enacted (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://www.billtrack50.com/billdetail/1430583
Senate Bill 1216Prohibits instructional materials on LGBTQ+ identitiesReferred to the Senate Committee on Education (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://legiscan.com/TN/text/SB1216/id/2289178/Tennessee-2021-SB1216-Draft.pdf
House Bill 578Prohibits health care practitioners from providing gender affirming care for minors.Referred to the House Committee on Health (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/f58edb99684dc033ec02f8a0c924eec088950a1ad2991d1c2a84edd350c3c7ef6ef9e161965f11425f85de7c036e2353
Senate Bill 2777Specifies that teacher is not requires to use students pronouns if it doesnt align with their biological sex.Referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, Ways, and Means (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/ebdf15942882184c79c922e444cb9c9e2139e048c3ae36aa6f9dbd55a204477b496228da81c2275a2f809ff238ade633
House Bill 2633Specifies that teacher is not requires to use students pronouns if it doesnt align with their biological sex.Passed House (2022); Transmitted to the Senate and Passed on First Consideration (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/603925c4ae5336c1f43b67f14f985aeeb231fdb051543ed17e6262c709d1075fc1aa3c8497041c2c575106c909b47ccb
House Bill 2316Prohibits 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. Referred to the House Committee on Calendar and Rules (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c495e9c5f63b0817af7029b6eb7e42eafd2e92840ba71aeee817209f9fcde2d424e426bf5022ce014afdd9785540f14e
House Bill 1894Prohibits 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. Withdrawn (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/dc5b631018190303271a811d202491c3aab33de2cbe4412126c9f8dc7ffb95f7d95e835486aea22599cd1d95fc8d3006
Senate Bill 2696Prohibits health care practitioners from providing gender affirming care for minors, protects conversion therapy, and emphasizes parental rights.Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/8a373ed0f136e985d99839105192fa46a3ee9d463eb06c8ac9a247aeb3a16a96754794fd5f9c6fa8aaca4dbe292c0aff
House Bill 2835Prohibits health care practitioners from providing gender affirming care for minors, protects conversion therapy, and emphasizes parental rights.Taken off notice for calendar in s/c Health Subcommittee of Health Committee (2022)Sexual Orientation & Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/1060a6e6ae662072943fdc15be07f070e523365659bf6baccfc015c80880cea0c9c2d5e9279f2b297bdb65aa9ac4feb7
House Bill 2451Requires local education agencies (LEAs) to permit parents to have access to certain information, including the names of instructors, titles available in the school library, teacher manuals, and curriculum; requires parents to provide written consent before a student can participate in any extracurricular activity, family life lesson, field trip, school assembly, or guest speaker event; prohibits certain healthcare practitioners from providing medical treatment to a minor without parental consent.Died in the House Subcommittee on Health (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/9ec3f9e7a147247431b2121a2d95d9f8619e5b446b01d2b5782398091bf85f89f4240dec0210579e0c23003d2e581e06
Senate Bill 2360Requires schools to adopt a policy that provides parents the right to review the names of educators and entities in contract with the school, the ability to observe student's classroom, and review the content of curriculum and textbooks, as well as review material in the school library.Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare (2022)Parental Rights and Curriculum Transparencyhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/9ec3f9e7a147247431b2121a2d95d9f8619e5b446b01d2b5782398091bf85f89f4240dec0210579e0c23003d2e581e06
House Bill 2557Prohibits schools from allowing entities that perform, provide referrals for, advocate for, or promote abortions from teaching family life education curriculum.Enacted (2022)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/ab66cf14a145614c9e010109acffd810efecaf7305f3ae4a634a1f749fd3bd87613599d9e06e7bf357929f3919ee9cf1
Senate Bill 2158Prohibits schools from allowing entitites that perform, provide referrals for, advocate for, or promote abortions from teaching family life education curriculum.Companion Bill Substituted; HB 2557 (2022)Sex Educationhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/a42966e962988354605b52090ab3b2f570c0af7dec5e5d9ad2f763b0743ef0aea8d1989f3c2b25db2226aedee04ad4ce
House Bill 1758Allows medical practitioners to provide medical treatment for STIs for minors 12+ without parental consent.Withdrawn (2022)HIV & STIshttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/81155d6a8c48444d875cdc0adbe306e59a9e56123f65fabd9c3c74f8da3d29fbdfbdb585f73b870acbe5e36bf001ca60
House Bill 800Prohibits textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address LGBTQ issues or lifestyles.Re-Referred to the House Subcommittee on Education Instruction (2022)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/ca07bedebc226c1effff86e5a01757767384950d624ba6164e02331854fe6aa70b202dddb8a7ddd1caa6bb30fc6f8b5f
House Bill 1539Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.Withdrawn (2022)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/58df80feb74f6942a77a093859eb20bb6a9d0d2b57f3db8040028ea32c83fe25a760aa0535657268861792c96be71344
Senate Bill 494Permits a person to petition a court to prohibit an individual from obtaining an abortion if they are the other biological parent of the fetus.Referred to the Senate General Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee (2022)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/ba3ed39a9f52bae3cf7ddeb73acbfa34c52c72752e66663d8fb97b3a67ee826e3119120022b850a1a4617e0cf88aa3f4
Senate Bill 654Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detectedWithdrawn (2022)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c97049c18f56872b0cc6054d385aa7523576a11699378b697bd9d6ef3b289c6e39003a19f92e9a8004885bd3d7f0754c
House Bill 529Requires each school to notify parents at least 30 days prior to providing instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in sex education or any other program. Allows parents to review the curriculum and submit a written request if they wish to remove their children from instruction. Enacted (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/bab4c86505d1837952a46583a7091fad84cef805a3a742b78ad95de07b9364efed392b13464784878f49426cbf65047a
House Bill 577Prohibits providing minors with information that promotes any "gateway sexual activity" or health messages that encourages students to experiment with non-heterosexual sex. Further prohibits providing or distributing material on school grounds that condones, encourages, or promotes sexual activity among unmarried minors, displaying or conducting demonstrations with devices manufactured for sexual stimulation, or distributing contraception on school property. In order to receive contraceptives from a health care professional, parental consent must be obtained. Enacted (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/f1aa5aad8d0278a24aec1d1af0e6a1b566989764b48cb9a1c0e7784539ace75375419ec443ff7f420f0d034c46bb803a
House Bill 724Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Referred to the House Subcommittee on Health(2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/129f225813a86e36321353304d8bd60aef2573c260eb2f4f0214e6ba4e0d1946a112e7606ddc31f3cf4b6021f5c5a68d
House Bill 1027Prohibits healthcare providers from providing gender affirming care to minors. Enacted (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/a8dc77603b7fe81e5b3ca7be24ef68358b0d777c29e02337c9c40db72b518c90a56b57bf0f6f5dc3ab6ca7dcb39e8b78
House Bill 800Prohibits textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promote, normalize, support, or address LGBTQ issues or lifestylesReferred to the Senate Subcommittee on Finance, Ways, and Means (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/ca07bedebc226c1effff86e5a01757767384950d624ba6164e02331854fe6aa70b202dddb8a7ddd1caa6bb30fc6f8b5f
House Bill 1079Permits a person to petition a court to prohibit an individual from obtaining an abortion if they are the other biological parent. Taken off notice for cal in s/c Children & Family Affairs Subcommittee of Civil Justice Committee (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/27be6fda7641344dbeecaf6e1e11e8ff5f3a15ff9ad29710067b7396a0f3fa4d45c59e57ac1bfb21d4c0e1b8063474e7
House Bill 1233Asserts the right to a private right to action if a school permits transgender students to access restrooms that align with their gender identity. Enacted (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/d3b63540c7cb21786732c8324d841b5c0365a398a2ca68fd94fbedcf3c6c765f22c0a69b50bd1e82664ad38a53c05080
House Bill 1307Requires youth development centers to provide sex education. Referred to the House Subcommittee on Children & Family Affairs (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/a6033b472ad910c1bcdbbffcb3ae84e69342c28bb580f03b9f96c35eb017fa04c576a0791aeab725d6926b1e3e108b84
House Bill 1539Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Action Def. in s/c Health Subcommittee to First Calendar of 2022 (2021)Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/58df80feb74f6942a77a093859eb20bb6a9d0d2b57f3db8040028ea32c83fe25a760aa0535657268861792c96be71344
Senate Bill 125 Requires each local educational agency to provide family life instruction. Prohibits any person person on school property or present at any school sponsored activity or program from making abortion referrals or advocating or encouraging abortion.Withdrawn (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/e7d2da00f5befaef3a98ed498d0d024238cdb1db431b060fbb486720330b87de3564b553a5d8c6905a0ad0cfe6f73e34
Senate Bill 126Prohibits healthcare providers from providing gender affirming care to minors. Enacted (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/004906db29c429988db72fe5b5570c034abb8a72860cd8cf57a31c62d6db45d22c5c534d29700fc103317b1489a7af85
Senate Bill 204Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Referred to the Senate General Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee (2021)Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/5d2fd3de42f0b8446c3ac6a45f3b64e8abeeacf77790cac40b363c7aa18f6662f7471cc0cc8c454bb6341e0e0c618de3
Senate Bill 494Permits a person to petition a court to prohibit an individual from obtaining an abortion if they are the other biological parent of the fetus Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to 4/13/2021 (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/ba3ed39a9f52bae3cf7ddeb73acbfa34c52c72752e66663d8fb97b3a67ee826e3119120022b850a1a4617e0cf88aa3f4
Senate Bill 640Requires youth development centers to provide sex education. Action deferred in Senate Judiciary Committee to first calendar of 2022 (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/f641d615ebfe90d23d4bae682961c5a6e7f4d46624ccc8a95d5f7232868835b7884c79b6dc55a2068b5e6bae1ce81e8e
Senate Bill 646Requires schools to teach medically accurate, age appropriate sex education that includes instruction on abstinence, contraception, consent, and healthy relationships. Curriculum must be appropriate for students regardless of their gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation.Referred to the Senate Committee on Education (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/7d0834bd489734e20d1a727f16e443162d1181ae2fb0564e1ab1f6868e9be37bc873f7e9651720d218f5b9e66d15e8a2
Senate Bill 654Prohibits abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2021) Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c97049c18f56872b0cc6054d385aa7523576a11699378b697bd9d6ef3b289c6e39003a19f92e9a8004885bd3d7f0754c
Senate Bill 1367Asserts the right to a private right to action if a school permits transgender students to access restrooms that align with their gender identity. Enacted (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/6335298dd90c962849e96de0dd20e4aaaae09e2638519e08576eceee76fe01a612928da67b0491249e66005f14eaa190
Senate Bill 1392 Prohibits instruction that promotes "gateway sexual activity" or non-heterosexual sex, or promotes or condones sexual activity among unmarried students. Prohibits displays or demonstrations with items manufactured for sexual stimulation. Prohibits contraceptives from being distributed on school property. Prohibits medical professionals from providing minors with contraceptives unless the minor is pregnant, married, or emancipated, they obtain the consent of the minors parent or guardian, or if they are referred by another health physician or clergy member. Enacted (2021) Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/098743a82b0fba0ed10580019251efd260d92f5307b539615ac20287f99d6dc3394e7674d20b12ad4b7de07ae5a9128b
Senate Bill 1229 Requires parental notification if school curriculum includes instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity and permits students to be excused from such instruction. Enacted (2021) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/3aaba345cb5538ec2c749c53ca6f2876cd7da57ac4ad0fd726852e2ded245c03f0651f2c60d964222b9470ef1fb6c71f

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

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

Reported teaching all 20 critical sexual health education topics

  • 9.8% of Tennessee secondary schools taught students all 20 critical sexual health education topics in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 32.2% of Tennessee 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

  • 40.1% of Tennessee secondary schools taught students about the benefits of being sexually abstinent in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 92.5% of Tennessee 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

  • 34.4% of Tennessee 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.
  • 88.1 % of Tennessee 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

  • 43.5% of Tennessee 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.
  • 90.3% of Tennessee 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

  • 27.0% of Tennessee 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.
  • 83.6% of Tennessee 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

  • 11.0% of Tennessee secondary schools taught students how to correctly use a condom in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 41.2% of Tennessee 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

  • 19.9% of Tennessee secondary schools taught students about methods of contraception other than condoms in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 62.6% of Tennessee 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

  • 12.7% of Tennessee secondary schools taught students about sexual orientation in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 54.1% of Tennessee 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

  • 16.4% of Tennessee secondary schools taught students about gender roles, gender identity, or gender expression in a required course in any of grades 6, 7, or 8.
  • 55.6% of Tennessee 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

  • 27.7% of Tennessee 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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