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
- Mississippi state law requires teaching of sex education but with very strict standards, stressing that abstinence-only or abstinence-plus education be taught in schools. Curriculum does not need to be comprehensive or medically accurate, and does not need to include instruction on consent.
- “Abstinence-plus” education may discuss “the nature, causes and effects of [STIs],” and “human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other [STIs].” Contraception may be taught but sex ed in Mississippi “shall not include instruction and demonstrations on the application and use of condoms.”
- The Mississippi Department of Education must approve each district’s curriculum.
- Students must be separated by gender at all times when sex ed is being taught.
- Parents or guardians must receive notification at least one week prior to the provision of any human sexuality instruction. Schools must receive written permission from a parent or guardian before a student can participate in a sex education course, also known as the “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 Mississippi. You can make a difference!
HIV/AIDS and Other STIs Education
- Mississippi state law does not require STI, including and HIV/AIDS, education, but school sex ed programs can discuss “the nature, causes and effects of [STIs],” and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other [STIs].”
- In Mississippi, parents must be informed that their child or children will be participating in sex ed classes (including HIV/AIDS education classes). Parents can take their child or children out of the classes if they wish.
Age of Minority
- The age when someone is no longer considered a minor in Mississippi is 21, which is three years older than in most states, where it is 18. This does not mean that you don’t have some rights, though, before you’re 21. It’s important to learn about your rights, such as those we cover here in Sex in the States.
- Keep in mind that laws about when someone is legally an adult may be different for you if you are legally considered an emancipated minor, pregnant minor or married minor.
- 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.” Consent laws are meant to protect minors from being manipulated or forced into sex with older people.
- The age of consent in Mississippi is 16.
- Mississippi statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 16 who is not their spouse. A close-in-age exemption exists when the age gap between the parties is less than 36 months.
- Public schools in Mississippi do not have policies that protect against discrimination or bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Adding to this, Mississippi prevents educators from talking about LGBTQ+ issues.
- There are statewide anti-discrimination laws, but they do not clearly include sexual orientation or gender identity. State hate crimes laws do not offer protection based on sexual orientation or 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
- Minors (those under 18) don’t need permission from a parent or guardian to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but this does not necessarily include the right to consent to HIV/AIDS treatments.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mississippi’s statutes also do not specify whether minors can access PrEP or other biomedical preventive measures without parental consent. Mississippi law also states that a provider is under no obligation to disclose to a minor’s parent or guardian if a minor underwent STI or HIV testing and treatment
- In Mississippi, there are currently no laws allowing minors to receive vaccines without parental consent.
- In Mississippi, minors can get a prescription for birth control without a parent’s permission under one or more of the following situations. If they
- are married
- are a parent
- received a referral from a specified professional (e.g. a physician, member of the clergy, etc.)
- Find out more about access to contraceptives in Mississippi at the Mississippi State Department of Health
- 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.
- Mississippi has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. There is a complete ban on all abortions except in the case of the pregnant person’s life being at risk, or if the fetus has suffered or will suffer from serious health issues during the pregnancy.
- If you are under 18 years old and want an abortion, both parents (with some exceptions for divorced or separated parents) must give permission for you to have an abortion. 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.” You may also have an abortion without your parents’ permission if it’s necessary for a medical emergency.
- There is a 24-hour mandatory waiting period in Mississippi before a teen can get an abortion. The medical provider must also give you biased information for you to look over before you get an abortion.
- Mississippi requires in-person counseling before obtaining an abortion, which means that you would have to go to two appointments in order to get an abortion.
- The state also requires women seeking abortion undergo an ultrasound beforehand and that the health care provider must offer the option to show the pregnant person the ultrasound.
- Mississippi has one abortion clinic in the entire state due to many laws being passed to make it hard for clinics to stay open.
- Mississippi does not provide funding via Medicaid (health care) coverage for medically necessary abortion unless the pregnant person’s life is in danger, if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest or if there is “fetal impairment,” which means there is something severely wrong with the fetus.
- 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.
- Mississippi does not require emergency rooms to provide EC or information on EC to rape survivors or dispense it upon request.
- 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 Mississippi specifically regarding teens 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 a minor, 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.
“Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion,” State Laws and Policies, 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/ 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.
“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 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.
“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 HIV Education,” State Laws and Policies, Guttmacher Institute, December 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/sex-and-hiv-education Accessed December 2017.
“State Facts About Abortion,” Guttmacher Institute, July 2017, https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-mississippi 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, Mississippi,” SIECUS, www.siecus.org, 2017, Accessed December 2017.
“State Laws, Mississippi,” Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000. https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/state-laws Accessed December 2017.
“The Laws in Your State: Mississippi,” RAINN, December 2016, https://www.rainn.org/laws-your-state-mississippi Accessed December 2017.