Sex in the States
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Wondering what's going on in your state? See how your state stacks up on sexuality issues for teens. And don't forget to find out how to make a difference on these issues.
Sex ed Rights
- Delaware state law requires sexuality education as part of health education for kindergarten through grade 12.
- Delaware did not apply for federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in 2017.
HIV/AIDS and Other STDs Education
- Delaware state law requires STDs and HIV/AIDS education but the HIV prevention program must stress “the benefits of abstinence from high-risk behaviors.”
- Students do not need their parents’ permission to participate in sexuality education or HIV/AIDS education.
Age of Minority
- In Delaware, as in most states, you are considered a minor (someone who is not legally an adult) if you are under 18 years old.
- Laws about whether you’re considered a minor may be different if you are a minor who has gained the right to live without a parent or guardian, are pregnant or are married.
- Being a minor (under 18) affects your right to information and services.
Age of Consent
- Legally, people can’t consent (or agree) to sex until they reach a specific age. This is called the “age of consent.”These laws are meant to protect minors from being manipulated or forced into sex with older people.
- In Delaware, the age of consent is 18, but there are some exceptions:
- There are exceptions for teens who are 16 and 17—those who are close in age may have consensual sex (as long as the other partner is under 30).
- You cannot legally consent to sex as a teen if the other person is 30 years old or older, unless you are married to that person.
- In Delaware, if you’re between 16 and 18, and the other person is four or more years older than you and in a “position of trust, authority or supervision”—such as a teacher, coach or religious instructor—consent is considered illegal.
- Public schools in your state have no Safe Schools Law in effect, which is a statewide anti-harassment and/or nondiscrimination law that includes the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity. But some school districts have decided to adopt their own Safe Schools policies.
- There are no statewide anti-bullying laws to protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- There are statewide anti-discrimination laws, but they do not clearly include sexual orientation or gender identity. State hate crimes laws include sexual orientation but not gender identity.
- If discrimination, harassment, or a hate crime happens to you or someone you know, please call the Gay and Lesbian National Hotline at 1-888-THE-GLNH (843-4564) for help and support, or check out Lambda Legal. No one deserves harassment or should have to put up with it.
HIV / AIDS Testing
- In Delaware, anyone 12 years old or older does not need permission from a parent or guardian to get tested or treated for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. However, a health care provider is legally allowed (but is not required) to discuss the test and/or treatment with the person’s parents.
- If you’re concerned about privacy, you can ask about this when you call to make your appointment. It’s a good idea to ask, “If I make an appointment and receive any kind of services there, will you tell my parents or anyone else?”
- Also, tell the clinic staff how to contact you privately if necessary.
- Delaware offers both anonymous and confidential HIV testing. This means that if you get tested for HIV, you can choose to either have your results confidentially reported to the health department using your name, or have your results anonymously reported to the health department using a number code, not your name.
- Find an HIV testing site in your area here or call the Centers for Disease Control’s 24-hour National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).
- People of any age, including teens, can buy condoms from a drugstore, pharmacy, grocery store or even online. A pack of twelve condoms costs about $12. Internal or female condoms are about $2 to $4 per condom.
- You can get condoms for free or at a reduced cost from health clinics (like Planned Parenthood), HIV testing centers and local health departments. Call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for the nearest Planned Parenthood.
- Always check the expiration date on condoms to make sure that the condoms haven’t expired yet. For information on how to use a condom correctly, check out this FAQ. Learn all about internal/female condoms on Sexetc.org.
- In Delaware, you can get contraceptive care (birth control) without a parent’s permission if you’re 12 and over.
- Delaware allows physicians to tell teens’ parents about their care, but does not require them to do so. Read on to learn more!
- To ensure your privacy when calling any health care provider, ask them:
- Can I get services at your office without my parents’ permission?
- Can my parent/s have access to my records?
- Will my parent/s see the bill?
- Clinics called “Title X” clinics—pronounced “title ten”—provide sexual and reproductive health care to both teens and adults. Title X clinics offer many services, including prescriptions for the Pill, pregnancy option counseling and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV.
- These clinics charge on what’s called a sliding-scale fee basis, which means they help you pay what you can afford, and you can pay in cash. If you pay for your visit by using your family’s health insurance or a family credit card, then your parents are likely to see the charge for the visit. Paying in cash on a sliding scale would help you keep the visit private if that is what’s right for you.
- To make sure your visit is confidential, tell the clinic staff how to contact you privately about test results and future appointments.
- Call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for the nearest Planned Parenthood.
- Or use this tool to find a Title X clinic near you:
This section is currently being updated and may not have the most current information (as you know, these laws have been shifting quickly). We are working to refresh it ASAP! For now, you can see updated abortion policies here.
- In Delaware, if you are under 16 and want an abortion, a parent must be notified (told). This is called parental notification. In some cases, a health professional can waive this requirement. If that’s not possible, you are able to ask a judge for permission. You may also get special permission if it’s an emergency. When a judge gives permission for an abortion (instead of parents being notified), this is called “judicial bypass.”
- If you have questions, talk to your doctor or call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100, Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Eastern Time).
- Some states make teens and women wait after their initial appointment to confirm pregnancy; in Delaware, this is not the case. There is no mandatory waiting period in Delaware before someone can get an abortion.
- Delaware provides Medicaid (financial healthcare) coverage for some, but not all, medically necessary abortions. Medicaid can be used in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.
- If you need help paying for an abortion, call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100, Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). The hotline can tell you where and how to get financial help for an abortion in the U.S.
- To learn about the process of adoption and the services available, visit the National Council for Adoption.
• You do not need a prescription from a doctor or health care provider to get a pregnancy test. You can purchase a pregnancy test from a pharmacy, grocery store or online. They cost between $10 and $18. You can also take a pregnancy test at a doctor’s office or clinic, like Planned Parenthood. Many clinics offer free or reduced-fee pregnancy tests.
• All visits to Title X clinics are confidential for teens and adults. They will not share your records with your parents or your family doctor (or anyone else) without your permission.
• Visits to “Title X” (pronounced “ten”) clinics are confidential for teens and adults. They will not share your records with your parents or your family doctor (or anyone else) without your permission.
• If you pay for your visit by using your family’s health insurance, your parents are likely to see the details of your visit when the bill arrives. Almost all clinics provide free or reduced-cost services to teens to make it easier to afford services.
• To make sure your visit is confidential, tell the clinic staff how to contact you about test results and future appointments without your parents knowing.
• Beware of so-called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). These centers claim to give you complete and accurate information about your pregnancy options when they actually want to discourage you from getting an abortion. They offer misleading and medically inaccurate information about abortion. Common names of these centers are “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” “Pregnancy Aid,” “Birth Right,” “Open Door” or “Pregnancy Counseling Center.” They are often set up near clinics and Planned Parenthood locations in order to confuse patients to accidentally enter the CPC instead.
• For more information, call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for the nearest Planned Parenthood or use this tool to find a Title X clinic near you:
- There are several types—or “brands”—of emergency contraception, sometimes called EC or the morning after pill.
- People of any age can buy the brand Plan B One Step and its generic versions at a local pharmacy over the counter, which means you can buy EC off the shelf.
- EC sells for between $35 and $60. Prices vary depending on the brand and the pharmacy.
- To find a provider or clinic near you, call the Emergency Contraception Hotline at 1-888-NOT-2-LATE (668-2528).
- If you have been raped and you want EC, go to the emergency department of a hospital or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Open 24 hours, the hotline will connect you to EC providers near you. For other helpful information, check out the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s Web site.
- In Delaware, there are no specific laws regarding sexting via computers or other electronic devices. But sexting falls under state child pornography regulations and that means that sending or receiving sexual images of a person under 18 is a crime, even if you are sending photos of yourself. Forwarding sexts can actually lead to a charge of distributing child pornography, so it’s important to be really informed when it comes to sexting!
“An Overview of Abortion Laws,” State Laws and Policies,” Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/overview-abortion-laws Accessed December 2017.
“An Overview of Minors’ Consent Laws, State Policies in Brief,” Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/overview-minors-consent-law Accessed December 2017.
“Citizen’s Guide to United States Federal Child Exploitation and Obscenity Laws,” The U.S. Department of Justice, November 2015, https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ceos/citizens-guide-us-federal-child-exploitation-and-obscenity-laws Accessed December 2017.
“Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortions,” State Policies in Brief, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/counseling-and-waiting-periods-abortion. Accessed December 2017.
“Emergency Contraception,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/emergency-contraception Accessed December 2017.
“Emergency Room Requirements to Offer Emergency Contraception Services to Sexual Assault Survivors,” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, June 2017, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/state-indicator/emergency-room-ec-requirements/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D Accessed December 2017.
“Minors’ Access to Contraceptive Services,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/minors-access-contraceptive-services Accessed December 2017.
“Minors’ Access to STI Services,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/minors-access-sti-services Accessed December 2017.
“Parental Involvement in Minors’ Abortions,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/parental-involvement-minors-abortions Accessed December 2017.
“Refusing to Provide Health Services,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/refusing-provide-health-services Accessed December 2017.
“Safe Schools Laws,” Movement Advancement Project, 2017, http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/safe_school_laws Accessed December 2017.
“Sex and STI/HIV Education,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/sex-and-hiv-education Accessed December 2017.
“Sexting,” Kids Delaware, http://kids.delaware.gov/pdfs/sexting_adult%20toolkit_6-21.pdf Accessed December 2017.
“State Facts About Abortion,” Guttmacher Institute, July 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion Accessed December 2017.
State Funding of Abortion Under Medicaid,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/state-funding-abortion-under-medicaid Accessed December 2017.
“State Laws and Policies Across the United States,” SIECUS, siecus.org, 2017, Accessed July 2018.
“State Laws, Delaware,” Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, September 2000. https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/state-laws Accessed December 2017.
The Laws in Your State: Delaware,” RAINN, December 2016, https://www.rainn.org/laws-your-state-delaware Accessed December 2017.
“Title I: General Provisions,” Legislative Council, General Assembly, State of Delaware, October 12, 2017, http://delcode.delaware.gov/title1/title1.pdf Accessed December 2017.