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Ill. Gov. Signs Bill Into Law Requiring Schools To Address Contraception, STIs in Sex Education

August 19, 2013 — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has signed into law a measure (HB 2675) requiring that public school students be taught about contraception and sexually transmitted infections in sex education classes, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/16).

Currently, sex-ed lessons for grades six through 12 are required to "emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm" and that "course material and instruction shall stress that pupils should abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage." Schools are permitted to teach abstinence-only classes; use a comprehensive approach, teaching both abstinence and birth control; or offer no sex ed at all.

As signed by Quinn, the law requires schools to offer comprehensive sex ed. Classes should teach students how to prevent pregnancy and STIs, while acknowledging that abstinence is "a responsible and positive decision." The law also requires that the state Board of Education make available "materials suggested by education experts and other groups that work on sex education issues."

Under the law, schools still can opt not to offer sex education, but they cannot offer abstinence-only courses. In addition, parents may choose to keep their children out of sex-ed courses (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/13).

The state education board does not track how many public school districts offer sex education, making it difficult to determine how many schools will be affected by the law, the AP/Bee reports. A 2008 study by the University of Chicago found that 93% of districts offered sex education and that 65% of the programs were considered comprehensive (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/16).