NC Sex Education Requirements

Special Report - August 16, 2010

With the beginning of the 2010-11 school year about a week away, public schools across North Carolina are tasked with implementing the requirements of the “Healthy Youth Act” (HYA), the controversial sex education law passed by the General Assembly last year that amended the state’s 15 year-old Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) law to require more discussion of all FDA-approved forms of contraception. This means that school systems will either be amending their previous sex education curricula or adopting new curricula, including condom-based programs that encourage so-called “safer” sex activities among young people. Many school systems will also be updating or adopting policies for parental consent, as the law requires. In Brunswick County, for example, the school board voted on August 4 to adopt a “more” comprehensive sex education curriculum for students, and adopted an “opt-out” policy that requires parents who wish to remove their children from the sex education instruction to formally request that their child waive all or part of the class. Asheville and Buncombe Counties, which already offered a comprehensive sex education program that covered many of the requirements in the HYA, plan to offer a 9th grade class on FDA-approved contraception.

Since the HYA was enacted, a great deal of misinformation has been published by anti-abstinence education groups, including the myth that condom-based sex education is now mandated in North Carolina. In response, the North Carolina Family Policy Council (NCFPC) has created an issue brief that outlines the correct interpretation of the HYA, which details the new requirements in the law, as well as the requirements of the original AUM law that are still intact. Go here to download the brief, “Abstinence Education Is Still Required to Be Taught in North Carolina Schools; Comprehensive Sex Education Is NOT.”

What parents, teachers, principals and school board members need to remember is that the HYA did NOT eliminate the requirement for schools to continue to teach abstinence from sexual activity until marriage as the best method of avoiding the myriad of negative consequences associated with early sexual activity. More importantly, the law requires that schools provide parents with the opportunity to review any sex education materials that are being used at their child’s school, and to remove their child from any and all of the sex education instruction they deem inappropriate. Local school boards also have the ability, under the law, to adopt policies that require parental consent for student participation in any part of the sex education program.

Because the HYA opens the door for the anti-abstinence groups to get into the classroom to promote condoms and so-called “safer” sexual activities, parents must be more vigilant than ever before about familiarizing themselves with the sex education program at their child’s school.

What Parents Can Do:
Get educated about the HYA and North Carolina’s “Reproductive Health Education” law by getting a copy of the NCFPC’s brief, and take a copy with you when you meet with the leaders and teachers at your school.

Review your school’s sex education curriculum. As noted, schools are required by law to provide parents the opportunity to review any and all sex education materials that will be presented to students at school. See below for website links to some school systems with information on the HYA and parental consent.

Find out who will be presenting the sex education instruction at your child’s school. Be on the alert for teachers affiliated with the local Planned Parenthood or other condom-based, pro-abortion organizations.

Ask to see the school’s list of the groups that provide STD testing and treatment (the HYA requires schools to prepare such a list for students). Again, look for local Planned Parenthood clinics that may be included on this list. Remember: the school does not have to refer students to groups that offer abortions or distribute condoms. Suggest to the school that many pregnancy resource centers around the state also provide STD testing and could be included on the list.

Get a list of dates when certain topics, such as all-FDA approved contraceptives, will be discussed.

Ask to see a copy of the school’s opt-out or opt-in policy for sex education instruction, and be sure you understand clearly how to remove your child from the sex education instruction you deem inappropriate. Many school systems require a written request from parents.

Many school systems have information about the HYA, upcoming parent information meetings, and related policies on their website. The best way to find out the policy is to search the internet for the name of the school system and see what they have on their website. If you can't find the information under "sex education" or "Healthy Youth Act" or another relevant search term, then call the school system and ask them how you obtain their policy and view the curriculum materials.

Related article:
Controversial Curriculum Changes - February 8, 2010
The Healthy Youth Act: What It Means For Sex Education - FNC Oct/Nov 2009
New Sex Ed Law Implementation Underway - September 3, 2009

Copyright © 2010. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

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