Healthy Youth Act

In 2009, North Carolina passed the Healthy Youth Act, providing parents, students, and schools greater access to effective sexuality education.

The law helps North Carolina schools establish sexuality education programs that match parents’ desires, students’ needs, and public health best practices.

Visit our Healthy Youth Act FAQs to learn more about the specifics of the Healthy Youth Act and sexuality education in North Carolina.


For most of North Carolina’s history, sexuality education was controlled at the local level by schools, parents, and public health professionals. While programs varied widely across the state, many communities offered thorough and effective programs.

In the mid-1990s, the North Carolina General Assembly (largely following a nationwide ideological trend) passed a new abstinence-only-until-marriage law. The law required abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, and led many schools to implement programs with inaccurate and dangerous information. The law forced any school system that wanted to provide more information to go through an onerous approval process.

In 2009 – largely because of parents’ desires and strong public health and education research – the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Healthy Youth Act, replacing abstinence-only-until-marriage with Reproductive Health and Safety Education.

The Healthy Youth Act largely returned curriculum control to local school systems, while establishing baseline content standards. The law also introduced the first-ever requirement that any information provided during sexuality education must be objective and factually accurate.

Sexuality Education in North Carolina Today

In North Carolina, sexuality education is now called Reproductive Health and Safety Education, and it is offered in grades 7, 8, and 9. The guidelines established by the Healthy Youth Act say that sexuality education must include:

  • Abstinence presented as the safest choice and the expected standard for all schoolchildren
  • All FDA-approved methods of contraception
  • HIV/STD risks and prevention
  • And sexual assault and sexual abuse risks and prevention.

In addition, all information presented must be factually accurate, objective and based upon scientific research that is peer reviewed and accepted by professionals and credentialed experts in the field of sexual health education.

Learn more about specific content requirements, administration, parent involvement and more in our Healthy Youth Act FAQs