For Young People

You deserve a lot of credit! In addition to balancing school and life, you have helped North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate hit the lowest level in history!

Why? Because more of you are waiting a little longer to start having sex and lots more of you are using condoms and contraception.

Still, we recognize that your teen years can be pretty tough. On top of all the other parts of being a young person, you have a lot to figure out about sex, relationships, your body, and how to stay healthy.

We can’t answer all your questions here! But we can give you an important rundown of your rights to sex education and medical care in North Carolina – and about how to find good answers to the questions you have.

Need to find a local community program, birth control, or other sexual health services? Check out our County Map

Need to find good, accurate sexual health info online? Check out our list of Online Resources for Teens

Need to ask a specific question about sex, relationships, and safety? Try our BrdsNBz Text Message Service

Sex Education in North Carolina

You need sex education! Even if you’re not planning to have sex any time soon, you need real facts about your body, relationships, and how to protect yourself. Unfortunately, you may not be getting the info you need in school.  

The Law in North Carolina

In North Carolina, schools are required by law to provide sex education in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. In North Carolina, it’s called Reproductive Health and Safety Education.

According to the law, sex education must include information on:

  • Abstinence
  • All FDA-approved contraceptive methods
  • Transmission and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV
  • Sexual assault and sexual abuse
  • Human trafficking

The law requires all information to be factually accurate. The law also requires your school system to let your parent or guardian pull you out of any part of sex education.

What Happens In Reality?

Many schools do a great job of providing sex education. This might not be the case in your school. Some schools:

  • Refuse to teach any sex education
  • Only talk about abstinence-only-until-marriage (That’s what the law required until 2010)
  • Provide false information – like saying that condoms don’t work


What You Can Do

You can make a difference by making sure your schools do a good job teaching sex education – and by educating yourself!

Getting Medical Care         

There are two ways to avoid getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant. One is not having sex. The other is using a condom and/or contraception consistently and correctly (bonus points if you use both!).

Your Rights

In North Carolina, you have the legal right to obtain the following medical services without a parent or guardian’s permission:

  • Contraceptives (birth control, including Emergency Contraception)
  • Testing and treatment for STDs and HIV
  • Pregnancy testing and prenatal care
  • Treatment for substance abuse or mental illness

By law, a doctor cannot tell anyone if you receive these services. This law is called Minors’ Right to Consent. Ideally, you can involve a parent in your decision making process. However, we know this isn’t possible for all young people.

Condoms and Emergency Contraception

Anyone can purchase condoms. Some stores may keep these items behind a counter or in a locked case. All you have to do is ask for them!  Many clinics – like your local health department – may also have free condoms available.

You can also use Emergency Contraception (EC, aka the morning-after pill) if you need to. Anyone, any age or gender, can purchase most kinds of emergency contraception without a prescription at a drug store or pharmacy.

Where to Find Care

Talk to your doctor about getting the care you need. Your local health department or community clinic can also help. Check out the Clinic Locator Tool on our county map to find a clinic that offers sexual health services. 

Many health departments and community clinics offer services with fees that are based on your ability to pay. This means you may be able to get services like testing or birth control at a low cost or even no cost.

Involving Your Parents

Yes, you can legally get birth control without talking to your parents. However, sometimes it’s easier to stick with your birth control when everybody’s in on the same plan.

Believe it or not, most parents want their kids to be safe – and most want to have open conversations with their kids. We encourage you to engage your parents in decisions about your health.

Finding More Information

Everybody has questions about sex, relationships, and growing up – and young people don’t always get the best information. Our goal is to help you find real answers so you don’t have to rely on media myths, old wives' tales, or hallway gossip.

BrdsNBz Text Message Service

If you’re between the ages of 14 and 19 and live in North Carolina, we can answer your sexual health questions by text message. If you text us your question, the BrdsNBz Text Message Warm Line can provide you with a free, medically accurate answer from a trained health educator within 24 hours.

To use BrdsNBz:

  • Text ncteen to 66746 to opt-in to the service. You only need to opt in the first time you use the service.
  • Text your question to 66746.
  • You will receive your answer within 24 hours.
Message & Data Rates May Apply. Text STOP to 66746 to opt-out. Text HELP to 66746 for help. Privacy policy + T&C. 

Learn more about the BrdsNBz Text Message Service.

Talking to Your Parents

Talking to your parents can actually be really helpful – even if it seems awkward at first. Here are some good tips to get started:

  • Remember, talking about sex is awkward for your parents, too!
  • Talking about their experience (or your experience) can be like jumping right into the deep end! Try asking questions about teens in general. Example: I heard some kids at school talking about {fill in the blank}. What does that mean?
  • Use the media as a catalyst! Hearing a news story or seeing something happen in a movie together can create a good opportunity to ask questions.

Finding Answers Online

The internet might make it seem like you have all the answers you need right at your fingertips. Unfortunately, that includes a lot of information that’s bad or fake.

Here’s a list of good websites for young people. They all give you real answers and factual information.





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