May 2013 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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Illinois Following Chicago’s Example Toward Strengthening Sex Education

Three months after the Chicago Board of Education passed a policy requiring Chicago public schools to teach sexual health education for all students starting in Kindergarten, the state of Illinois announced its plans to improve the state sex education curriculum as well.[1] On May 22nd, 2013, the Illinois Senate passed a new sex education bill, HB 2675, that would require schools that provide sex education to expand beyond an abstinence-only approach.[2] Currently, the required sex education for grades six through twelve must emphasize abstinence as the norm and "course material and instruction shall stress that pupils should abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage."[3] After passing the Senate by a vote of 37-21, the bill is currently awaiting signature by Governor Quinn, who reportedly supports the bill and is expected to sign although has yet to do so as of June 18, 2013.[4]

The new bill, proposed by Senator Heather Steams, would amend the School Code and the Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act to align with the National Sexuality Education Standards.[5] The new legislation would dictate that for Illinois schools offering sex education, the curriculum could still include abstinence, but should also address methods of contraception and protection against STDs and HIV/AIDS. The bill would also amend some of the language of the act; emphasizing that content must be based on “evidence-based and medically accurate information regarding sexual abstinence” and removing statements that support the dangers of sex “outside of marriage.”[6] Parents would be allowed to review the curriculum and opt their children out of classes completely.[7]

The new bill does not make sexuality education mandatory in Illinois public schools and schools still have the option to not teach sex education at all.[8] The Illinois Board of Education reports that they are not certain how many of the state’s 860 school districts currently teach sex education as it is not required.[9] SIECUS will continue to monitor the status of the bill and provide updates.


[1]Whyte, Stephanie, “Schools Should Start Lessons in Kindergarten,” May 7, 2013, accessed May 23, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/05/07/at-what-age-should-sex-education-begin/schools-should-start-sex-education-in-kindergarten.

[2]Garcia, Monique, “Birth Control in Sex Ed Classes Passes Illinois Senate,” May 22, 2013 accessed May 23, 2013, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-birth-control-in-sex-ed-classes-passes-illinois-senate-20130522,0,4126477.story.

[3]Garcia, Monique, “Birth Control in Sex Ed Classes Passes Illinois Senate,” May 22, 2013 accessed May 23, 2013, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-birth-control-in-sex-ed-classes-passes-illinois-senate-20130522,0,4126477.story.

[4]ABC News, “Illinois Senate Approves Sex Ed Bill,” May 22, 2013, accessed May 23, 2013, http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/illinois&id=9112809

[5]98th General Assembly, State of Illinois, 2013 and 2014 SB 2354, April 15, 2013, accessed May 24, 2013,  http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/98/SB/09800SB2354.htm.

[6]Ibid.

[7]Ibid.

[8]Ibid.

[9]ABC News, “Illinois Senate Approves Sex Ed Bill,” May 22, 2013, accessed May 23, 2013, http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/illinois&id=9112809.