Outline of the state of Tennessee
Stresses abstinence

Sexual Health Education Abstinence—ES

Sexual Health Education Abstinence—ES

State law stresses abstinence.

T. C. A. § 49-6-1301

(1) “Abstinence” means not participating in any activity that puts an individual at risk for pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease;

(2)(A) “Abstinence-based” or “abstinence-centered” means an approach that promotes sexual risk avoidance, or primary prevention, and teaches vital life skills that empower youth to identify healthy and unhealthy relationships, accurately understand sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, set goals, make healthy life decisions, and build character;

  • (B) Abstinence-centered education is a holistic approach that addresses the physical, social, emotional, psychological, economic and educational consequences of nonmarital sexual activity;

(3) “Abstinence-centered curriculum” means that the majority of the content of a curriculum promotes sexual risk avoidance as the primary goal. Supplemental topics in the curriculum, such as healthy relationships and substance abuse, reinforce the goal of primary prevention;

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T. C. A. § 49-6-1302

(a) (1) Beginning with the 1991-1992 school year, if the most recent, annual data maintained by the department of health, state center for health statistics, indicate that pregnancy rates in any county exceeded nineteen and five-tenths (19.5) pregnancies per one thousand (1,000) females fifteen (15) through seventeen (17) years of age, then every LEA within the county shall locally devise, adopt, and implement a program of family life education in conformance with the curriculum guidelines established for such programs by this section.

(2) Each LEA that offers a program, course or instruction in sex education shall locally develop and adopt a family life curriculum in compliance with the requirements of this part, or shall adopt the family life curriculum adopted by the state board of education.

(3) Each LEA shall prescribe policies and procedures for the implementation, evaluation, and periodic review of the family life curriculum.

(4) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, failure of an LEA to comply with this subsection

  • (a) shall subject the LEA to the withholding of state funds by the commissioner.

  • (b) The state board of education shall adopt a complete family life curriculum suitable for implementation by an LEA that fails to develop, adopt, and implement a local curriculum of family life under subsection (a).

  • (c) (1) Prior to adopting a family life curriculum adopted by the LEA or the state board of education, each LEA shall conduct at least one (1) public hearing, at which time the program shall be explained to members of the public and the public shall have the opportunity to speak and express their opinions and concerns. The LEA shall schedule a public hearing not less than once each September.

  • (2) Each LEA shall undertake appropriate measures, whether in a public hearing or in parent conferences, to ensure and maintain the highest level of community and parental support for family life.

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T. C. A. § 49-6-1303

(a) Nothing in this part shall prohibit an LEA from utilizing the services of a qualified healthcare professional or social worker to assist in teaching family life.

(b) An LEA shall not utilize the services of any individual or organization to assist in teaching family life if that individual or organization endorses student nonabstinence as an appropriate or acceptable behavior, or if that individual or organization promotes gateway sexual activity.

Policy Type

Tenn. Code Ann. _ 49-6-1304

(a) A family life curriculum shall, to the extent that the topic and the manner of communication is age-appropriate:

  • (1) Emphatically promote only 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 nonmarital 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, including but not limited to HIV/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) Notwithstanding § 49-6-1302(a)(1), inform students, in all LEAs, concerning the process of adoption and its benefits. The state board of education, with the assistance of the department of education, shall develop guidelines for appropriate kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) instruction on adoption, what adoption is, and the benefits of adoption. The guidelines shall be distributed by the department of education to each LEA by the start of the 2015-2016 school year; and

  • (13) Provide instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of:

  • (A) Child sexual abuse, including such abuse that may occur in the home, in accordance with the declarations and requirements of §§ 37-1-601(a) and 37-1-603(b)(3); and

  • (B) Human trafficking in which the victim is a child. The instruction provided under this subdivision (a)(13)(B) must be accomplished through the viewing of a video recording approved by the LEA.

(b) Instruction of the family life curriculum shall not:

  • (1) Promote, implicitly or explicitly, any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with noncoital sexual activity;
  • (2) Provide or distribute materials on school grounds that condone, encourage or promote student sexual activity among unmarried students;
  • (3) Display or conduct demonstrations with devices specifically manufactured for sexual stimulation; or
  • (4) Distribute contraception on school property; provided, however, that medically-accurate information about contraception and condoms may be provided so long as it is presented in a manner consistent with the preceding provisions of this part and clearly informs students that while such methods may reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pregnant, only abstinence removes all risk.
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