RELEASE: Number of States Referencing Consent or Healthy Relationships in Sex Education Surges Nearly 40 Percent in the Past Year

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new issue brief on sex education curriculum in America. The new research comes as Americans are increasingly aware about the pervasiveness of nonconsensual sex and sexual assault. The analysis looks at curricula in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.—looking at both states with compulsory sex education and those where it is not required—to identify how states are modernizing their sex education standards and who the stakeholders are that are driving this rapid change. Key findings from the brief include:

  • While still less than half of states reference consent or healthy relationships in their sex education standards, there was a nearly 40 percent increase in the number of states in just the past year.
  • Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., now include references to consent or healthy relationships in their sex education standards. Eight states have updated their sex education standards in the past year—including six states that passed legislation to include consent and healthy relationships in their curriculum.
  • This substantial increase has been partly driven by a wave of new women elected leaders and students.
  • Just four states—California, Missouri, New Jersey, and Wyoming—include digital conduct curriculum as part of their standards.
  • Only nine states currently have LGBTQ-inclusive sex education.

“Greater awareness of nonconsensual sex and sexual assault has led to calls for modernizing sex education,” said Abby Quirk, research associate for K-12 Education Policy at CAP and co-author of the brief. “This brief finds that the women elected officials and student activists leading the charge for improving sex education are beginning to achieve tangible results. While there is still much to be done to make sure sex education is available to all, reflects how today’s youth interact, and encompasses all relationships, these results are promising.”

Please click here to read “Momentum Is Building to Modernize Sex Education” by Catherine Brown and Abby Quirk.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202.741.6292.