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
- Illinois requires schools to teach health education but does not specifically state that sex ed is to be taught.
- Schools are to teach both abstinence and contraception in sex ed classes.
- When provided, sex ed is to be medically accurate and age appropriate.
- Students do not need their parents’ permission to participate in sex ed or STD and HIV/AIDS education classes. But parents or guardians can take their child or children out of sex ed or STD/HIV/AIDS classes. This is called and “opt-out” policy.
- If you want your school to offer a comprehensive sexuality education class in your school, you can learn more at SIECUS. You can make a difference!
Age of Minority
- The age when someone is no longer considered a minor in Illinois, as in most states, is 18. Therefore, you are legally considered an adult at age 18.
- Keep in mind that these laws may be different for you if you are legally considered an emancipated minor, pregnant minor or married minor.
- Being a minor (under 18) affects your right to information and services. To learn more, read on!
Age of Consent
- Legally, people can’t consent (or agree) to sex (with someone who is considered an adult) until they reach a specific age. This is called the “age of consent.”Consent laws are meant to protect minors from being manipulated or forced into sex with older people.
- In Illinois, you can legally consent to sex when you become 17 years old.
- Also, in Illinois, if a person is 17 or older and holds a “position of trust, authority or supervision,” such as a coach, and the other person is at least 13 but under 18, consent it not legally possible in Illinois. The person over 17 would be committing sexual assault, by law, for having sex with the person who is between 13 and 18.
- Public schools in Illinois have Safe Schools Laws in effect, which are statewide anti-harassment/bullying and/or nondiscrimination laws that include the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Illinois law protects LGBT students as well as students who associate with LGBT students from bullying.
- There are statewide anti-discrimination laws that are designed to protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- State hate crimes laws protect LGBT people, meaning that they include sexual orientation and gender identity as categories they protect.
- 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!
HIV / AIDS Testing
- In Illinois, you don’t need permission from your parent or guardian to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV if you are 12 or older.
- Health care providers may—but are not required to—inform a minor’s parent(s) about services provided to a minor (someone under 18), including a positive HIV-test result.
- If you’re a minor, it’s important for you to ask questions about confidentiality when you call to make your appointment. Specifically ask, “If I make an appointment and receive any kind of services at your clinic, will you tell my parents or anyone else?” This applies to all services, including testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Illinois 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 Illinois, minors (people under 18) are allowed to get birth control without a parent’s permission if they are over 12.
- Also, a teen can get a prescription for birth control without a parent’s permission in one or more of the following situations. If the teen:
- is married
- is a parent
- is pregnant or has ever been pregnant
- has health reasons
- was referred for health care services by a doctor, clergyperson or other health care organization, such as Planned Parenthood
- 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 and infections, including HIV.
- If you go to a Title X clinic, your appointment will be completely confidential.
- 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, then your parents are likely to see the bill when it arrives in the mail.
- Use this tool to find a Title X clinic near you:
- Or call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for the nearest Planned Parenthood.
- When you make an appointment for health care, ask about confidentiality rules. When you call, ask:
- 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?
- It is your right to get sexual and reproductive health care where you feel safe and comfortable, so don’t worry about asking these questions.
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.
- If you are in Illinois, you need to notify a parent or other adult relative that you’re having an abortion, 48 hours before the abortion takes place. If that’s not possible, you are able to ask a judge for permission to go ahead with the abortion without notifying your parents. This is called “judicial bypass.”
- Illinois provides Medicaid (health care) coverage for most medically necessary abortions, which is more than what the federal government requires.
- 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 adoption, 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-cost pregnancy tests.
- Visits to clinics known as Title X (ten) clinics are confidential for teens and adults.
- Use this tool to find a Title X clinic near you::
- Or call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for the nearest Planned Parenthood.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 without a prescription.
- EC sells for between $35 and $60. Prices vary depending on the brand and the pharmacy.
- To find an EC provider, call the Emergency Contraception Hotline at 1-888-NOT-2-LATE (668-2528). They can help you find access to EC if you’re having any trouble at all.
- Illinois requires emergency rooms provide information on EC to rape survivors but does not require emergency rooms provide EC to rape survivors.
- If you have been raped and you want EC, 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
- It is illegal to share nude or sexual images of a teen with others, even if the image is of you and sent by you. Though punishment is less severe due to recent changes in the law, it is still true that a teen may be committing a crime by sexting.
- Sexting laws can be confusing or overwhelming, so to keep it simple: be aware that having someone’s permission to take or share images of them is important, and taking or sharing nude or sexual images of someone under 18 can lead to arrest.
“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 Laws and Policies, 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.
“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/ Accessed December 2017.
“Illinois Compiled Statutes,” Illinois General Assembly. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs.asp Accessed December 2017.
“Kids and the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents,” Illinois State Bar Association, 2008, https://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/teachers/publications/Kids%20and%20the%20Law.pdf Accessed December 2017.
“Mandatory Waiting Periods For Women Seeking Abortion,” Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2017, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/state-indicator/mandatory-waiting-periods/ 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.
“Mandatory Waiting Periods For Women Seeking Abortion,” Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2017, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/state-indicator/mandatory-waiting-periods/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D 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.
Sex and HIV Education,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/sex-and-hiv-education Accessed December 2017.
“Safe Schools Laws,” Movement Advancement Project, 2017, http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/safe_school_laws 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, www.siecus.org, 2017, Accessed December 2017.
“State Maps,” GLSEN, 2017, https://www.glsen.org/article/state-maps Accessed December 2017.
“State Profiles Fiscal Year 2017, Illinois,” SIECUS, www.siecus.org, 2017, Accessed December 2017.
“State Sexting Laws” Cyberbullying.org, July 2015, http://cyberbullying.org/state-sexting-laws.pdf Accessed December 2017.