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
- Maryland state law requires sex ed is taught in all public schools.
- Each local school board is to work with its county health department to establish a “broad school health education program, including ‘Family Life and Human Sexuality’ and ‘Disease Prevention and Control’ instruction.”
- Abstinence, contraception, unplanned pregnancy, healthy relationships, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS must be covered within health education curricula in Maryland.
- Schools must provide parents or guardians the option of viewing all instructional materials, and parents or guardians may remove their child or children from any or all “Family Life and Human Sexuality” classes. This is called an “opt-out” policy.
- If you want your school to offer a comprehensive sex ed in your school, be sure to learn more at SIECUS about Maryland. You can make a difference!
HIV/AIDS and Other STDs Education
- Maryland state law requires STDs and HIV/AIDS education.
- You do not need your parents’ or guardians’ permission to participate in sexuality education or HIV/AIDS education classes, but as with other sex ed classes, your parents or guardians can take you out of the classes if they wish.
Age of Minority
- The age when someone is no longer considered a minor in Maryland, 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.
- The age of consent in Maryland is 16, but there are exceptions to allow for close-in-age sexual relationships. For example, a 15-year-old can legally consent to sex with a 16-year-old.
- Maryland does not have laws and policies that protect LGBTQ students against discrimination in school.
- There are statewide anti-bullying laws to protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- State hate crime laws protect people based on sexual orientation and 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
- You don’t need permission from your parent or guardian to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV in Maryland. However, a health care provider may—but is not required to—inform your parents.
- 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.
- 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 Maryland, a minor (someone under 18) can get a prescription for birth control without a parent’s permission. However, a health care provider may—but is not required to—inform your parents.
- 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.
- A teen in Maryland does not have to get their parents’ or guardians’ permission to get an abortion. However, a teen’s parent(s) or guardian(s) has to be notified that their child is getting one.
- A health care provider can waive your parent or guardian’s involvement in some cases—speak to a provider to find out more by calling Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN (7526).
- There is no mandatory waiting period in Maryland before a teen can get an abortion.
- 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 more 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.
- Maryland does not require emergency rooms to provide EC or information on 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.
- There are no laws in Maryland specifically regarding sexting. However, sexting falls under state and federal child pornography regulations, which state that pictures of a person under 18 engaged in sexual behaviors 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.
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“Parental Consent and Notification Laws,” Planned Parenthood, 2017, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/preventing-pregnancy-stds/parental-consent-and-notification-laws 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.
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“Safe Schools Laws,” Movement Advancement Project, 2017, http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/safe_school_laws Accessed December 2017.
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“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.
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