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
- There are no state laws stating clearly that sex ed must be taught in Kentucky public schools, but all Kentucky schools follow a set of standards that include education on “how decision-making relates to responsible sexual behavior (e.g., abstinence, preventing pregnancy, preventing HIV/sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and impacts the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of an individual.”
- Teaching about contraceptives, such as condoms or the Pill, is not required.
- Schools are not required to have a specific curriculum for sex ed nor does it have to be comprehensive or medically accurate, but it might include instructions on abstinence as the desired goal for school-age youth, does not need to include instructions on sexual orientation or gender identity, and does not require inclusion of instruction on consent.
- Kentucky has no standard regarding the ability of parents and guardians to remove their children from sex education instruction.
- If you want your school to offer comprehensive sex ed in your school, be sure to learn more at SIECUS about Kentucky. You can make a difference!
HIV/AIDS and Other STI Education
- Kentucky requires schools teach HIV/AIDS education and does not require parents’ permission for students to participate in HIV/AIDS-related instruction.
Age of Minority
- The age when someone is no longer considered a minor in Kentucky, 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, are a pregnant or married minor or if you are in jail.
- Being a minor 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.” These laws are meant to protect minors from being manipulated or forced into sex with older people.
- In Kentucky, you can legally consent to sex when you become 16 years old.
- Public schools in Kentucky 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.
- There are no statewide anti-bullying laws to protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Hate crime laws in Kentucky protect people on the basis of 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 discrimination or harassment!
HIV / AIDS Testing
- In Kentucky, minors (those under 18) don’t need permission from your parent or guardian to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV or to consent to treatment. However, health care providers may–but are not required to—inform your parents that you received certain health care services.
- It’s important 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.
- 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 12-pack of condoms costs about $9-12. Internal or female condoms are about $2-4 per condom. Many grocery stores and pharmacies don’t carry internal/female condoms, but they can be found online, at Planned Parenthood, at family planning clinics and by prescription.
- 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.
- It is not explicitly stated in any statute whether or not minors have access to Prep/PEP without a parental consent. It is best to contact your doctor or local clinic for more information in your county.
- In Kentucky, there are currently no laws allowing minors to receive vaccines without parental consent.
- All minors are allowed to get a prescription for contraception without a parent’s permission. However, a doctor may—but is not required to—inform your parents/guardian.
- Clinics called “Title X clinics”—pronounced “title ten”—provide confidential 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 confidential, including your billing and your records.
- 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.
- Call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) for the nearest Planned Parenthood.
- Or use this tool to find a Title X clinic near you:
- 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.
- Abortion is completely banned in Kentucky except in the case of saving the pregnant person’s life or preventing serious physical risk for the pregnant person.
- If you are under 18 years old and want an abortion, one parent must give permission before you can get one. This is called “parental consent.” If that’s not possible, you are able to ask a judge for permission, or get special permission if it’s an emergency. This is called “judicial bypass.”
- There is a 24-hour mandatory waiting period in Kentucky before someone can get an abortion.
Kentucky requires in-person counseling prior to someone receiving an abortion, so more than one trip to the abortion provider is necessary.
- Kentucky provides Medicaid (health care) coverage for some medically necessary abortions including cases of life endangerment, rape and incest.
- 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.
- All 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.
- If you’re having trouble accessing EC, 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.
- Kentucky does not require emergency rooms to provide EC or information on ED 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.
- There are no laws in Kentucky specifically regarding sexting. However, sexting falls under state and federal child pornography regulations, which state that the “visual depiction of a person under the age of 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct” is a crime.
- Be aware that having someone’s permission to take or share images of them is important, but even if you have permission, taking or sharing nude or sexual images of someone under 18, even yourself, could be considered illegal.
“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.
“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.
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 Profiles Fiscal Year 2017, Kentucky,” 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.
“The Laws in Your State: Kentucky,” RAINN, 2017, https://www.rainn.org/laws-your-state-kentucky Accessed December 2017.