With no requirements, Illinois offers minimal sexual education

Abigail Slimmon

In September, discussions about allegations against Brett Kavanaugh took over classrooms and dinner tables. Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of attempting to sexually assault her, 30 years ago, while the two were in high school.

These and other accusations, the latest chapter from the past year of stories about consent and sexual assault,  sparked a discussion all over the country of how schools teach students about these topics.

With no national laws, only 24 states and the District of Columbia require some form of sexual education. Only 8 specifically mention the requirement of consent or sexual assault. Illinois is one of the 26 states that have no sexual education requirements in schools.

Although sex ed is not required, a 2008 University of Chicago study found that 93 percent of Illinois schools teach some form of sexual education. Due to the lack of requirement, the amount of time spent on sex ed and material covered varies dramatically from school to school.

According to the Chicago Public Schools, they require that “Schools must teach sexual health education every year (300 minutes/year in k-4th grade and 675 minutes/year in 5th-12th grades).”

This is much more time than Lab students spend learning sex ed, which in high school is taught through physical education courses in ninth and tenth grades.

“We need to start to make an effort to bring sexual education into Lab student’s lives at a younger age,” P.E. department chair Deborah Ribbens said. “Students need to be in a position from a young age that if that’s the route they want to choose, they know at least the basic information.” 

The Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act states that if an Illinois school chooses to teach sex ed, both abstinence and contraception must be taught as methods to prevent pregnancy and STIs.