State Profiles

Tennessee’s Sex Education Snapshot

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, instead, pass requirements for comprehensive sex education. In 2017, Senator Becky Duncan Massey passed Senate Bill 1510, legislation that requires sexual abuse education in schools. Despite this success, similar efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Collaborative efforts are underway to ensure a comprehensive sex education bill is introduced 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. Organizations such as Girls, Inc. of Chattanooga are working to identify political allies and local champions to advance a comprehensive sex education platform.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic beginning in 2020, the shortened legislative session significantly limited the ability to conduct successful advocacy with lawmakers to advance sex education legislation. Advocates suspect that sex education was likely one of the first educational programs to be eliminated in the shift towards virtual learning. While advocates have begun the process of developing an awareness campaign to advance sex education requirements, the implementation has been halted as the impact of the virus has continued into 2021.

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.

Advocates in Knoxville have been increasing efforts to ensure effective educators are delivering sex education by removing harmful educators that provide restrictive instruction. They believe this is a necessary first step before advancing new sex education requirements. In response to the discriminatory sex education they received, students in Knox County have formed Just Educate, a sex education resource, to uplift the testimony of students and demand that the Knox County Board of Education take action to ensure young people receive affirming sex education instruction.

In an effort to address these gaps in access, Youth and Family Development Centers and youth-serving organizations across the state have implemented after school sex education programs. Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi have provided similar programming in Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, and the surrounding areas. Despite these efforts, advocates from the Women’s Fund of Chattanooga report that it is critical that those who support advancing sex education continue to strategize effective ways to provide comprehensive sex education to youth.

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. Chattanooga community members report a recent, steady increase in local support for improving sex education. Individuals across the state may find that parents and community members are willing to collaborate and advocate for inclusive sex education curriculum. 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 not required to teach sex education. However, schools are required to teach a family life education program if their county pregnancy rate exceeds 19.5 pregnancies per every 1,000 females ages 15-17.
  • Curriculum is not required to be comprehensive.
  • Curriculum must stress abstinence.
  • 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 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.

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 Tennessee’s profile.

2021 Legislative Session 

House Bill 529 (pending): Aims to require 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.

House Bill 577 (pending): 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 (pending): 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.

2020 Legislative Session

House Bill 2135 (failed): Sought to prohibit any individual on school grounds from making abortion referrals or “advocating or encouraging” abortion and adjusts data considerations that determine if a school district must teach sex education.

House Bill 2434 (failed): Sought to no longer require schools to follow the Sexual Risk Avoidance curriculum. Information would have to be medically accurate and age-appropriate. Curricula would still prioritize abstinence, but teaching how to use protection to prevent the spread of STIs and HIV, consent, how to talk to parents about sex, and healthy relationships would be required as well. An identical companion bill was introduced in the Senate.

House Bill 2567 (failed): Sought to establish the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which would permit parents and guardians to withhold their children from any aspect of their education that they have a moral or religious objection to.

Senate Bill 2583 (failed): Sought to require schools to teach sex education that is medically accurate and age appropriate and includes instruction on abstinence, contraceptives, consent and healthy relationships. Curriculum must  be appropriate for all students regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or disability status. At least 30 days prior to instruction, each school must notify parents and guardians and outline their right to review the instructional materials and remove their children from instruction.

Senate Bill 2089 (failed): Sought to prohibit public schools and other Local Education Agencies from making referrals to and/or endorsing abortion in any class or at any school-related event. An identical companion bill was introduced in the House.


More on sex ed in Tennessee…


State Law

Tennessee law (§ 49-6-1302, 49-6-1304, and 49-6-1305) requires local education agencies in counties whose pregnancy rate exceeds 19.5 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15–17 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, 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 2021 session convened on January 12, 2021. 

TitleDescriptionStatusLegislative Topic
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
House Bill 1572Athletic teams or sports sponsored by a primary or secondary school or institution of higher education that are designated for "females, women, or girls" are only open to students of "the female sex" as designated on an unchanged original birth certificate.Died in the House Committee on Education (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/7041c6e79db78701891a1b77beb4872062b4e6af144590705c35628be4d855277615772789ddbea74a57e1c6478fd8b7
House Bill 1689Prohibits a student from participating in a "single-sex" interscholastic sport or athletic event provided by the student's public school unless the student verifies with the public school that the student identifies with their sex assigned at brith.Died in the Senate (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identityhttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/79e52410b4967aaf51e4f6d8bf86d86846562aeda648793fbc69c1bd5f3184b18cd40b8f9e60a9c10af55f22b685899e
House Bill 1962Prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected unless in the case of a medical emergency.Died in the House Committee on Health (2020)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/5a9d8edae9817553a707c8ec9af2e62b9fcec09682fb70fc01b5463dc11411160aa7861c3856db44a8b53290a47d8e88
House Bill 2135Prohibits any individual on school grounds from making abortion referrals or "advocating or encouraging" abortion and adjusts data considerations that determine if a school district must teach sex education. Died in the House Committee on Education (2020)Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/f6a898338f983219bb40d7e6b93eb61b90b2b7866e251474afa8f42f5ce786f4ab5a654dd6b70b2a9a741d18c80aa118
House Bill 2576Prohibits gender affirming therapy for minors who have not yet entered puberty, and requires physician consent for a minor who has entered puberty to recieve gender affirming therapy, provided by the minors parent or guardian. Died in the Senate Committee on Education (2020)Reproductive Health Carehttps://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/177cf50a1927856465a28b5dcab2bac8f001cfd80efad89137d2e33fdb0fdb819834174fe0b6c7bb2f0781724fb05e21
House Bill 2434Requires all LEAs and public charter schools to provide students with medically accurate, age appropriate sex education that teaches the benefits of abstinence, the importance of contraceptives, information about consent, communication skills, and healthy relationship. Curriculum must be appropriate for all students regardless of gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation. Died in the House Committee on Education (2020)Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/7dae74b3d46e61e3fb07e1c74f1cdc82b709b3247b6c24ebe1291d9b76db40a0b650df51d0d59c6f69ee73b99b9fd7e5
Senate Bill 1780Prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected or if it is determined the fetus is viable unless in the case of a medical emergency. Died in the Senate Committee on Judiciary (2020)Reproductive Health Care https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/a3914b9709c66b0b91391f3e08757279da555cd75fc79d942a7cabc52df00cb31b530119337c3b62378132a02b875ae8
Senate Bill 2215Prohibits gender affirming surgery or therapy for prepubescent minors and requires parental and physician consent for minors who have entered puberty. Died in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary (2020)Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/c2c141007bcc75f91360452e36130592459bd727b6ef761e74e95cb1ddada12ac913bd11e0193244b12a2e4dd4da22e7
Senate Bill 2089Amends the age range of teen births from which data is studied to determine if a school must provide sex education. Prohibits any individual from "advocating or encouraging" abortion while on school grounds. Died in the House (2020)Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/7eb948419564653878ddb22653180e6b30f27f760f205081966c411f319322076e18e3dc3035c8ffd84ad99937dcc3e0
Senate Bill 2583Requires schools to teach sex education that is medically accurate and age appropriate and includes instruction on abstinence, contraceptives, consent and healthy relationships. Curriculum must be appropriate for all students regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or disability status. At least 30 days prior to instruction, each school must notify parents and guardians and outline their right to review the instructional materials and remove their children from instruction. Died in Senate Education Committee (2020)Sex Education https://s3.amazonaws.com/fn-document-service/file-by-sha384/148c0f6ca7aef551afcea2cd595c25ad2a6660a42548cc3e63b9514e9eacee945596c8039992f39bbbd6b925b1e51d15

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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