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
- New York does not require schools to provide sex education, though New York does require health education.
- New York City requires sex ed is taught in schools.
- Curriculum is NOT required to be comprehensive or provide instruction on consent.
- Sexual education curriculum does NOT have to discuss sexual orientation or gender identities.
- However, New York’s Guidance Document for Health Education is inclusive of information on sexual orientation and limitation on gender identity.
- There is no statute stating that sexual education needs to be medically accurate.
- Parents/guardians can pull their children out of HIV/AIDS prevention education as long as the school receives “assurance that the pupil will receive such instruction at home.”
- This is referred to as the “opt out” policy.
- If you want your school to offer comprehensive sex ed classes, be sure to learn more at SIECUS about your state. You can make a difference!
HIV/AIDS and Other STI Education
- New York state law requires STI and HIV/AIDS education.
- This instruction must be provided by educators who have been adequately trained and received materials from the board of education.
- Abstinence must be stressed as the “most appropriate and effective premarital protection against AIDS.”
- Parents can take you out of HIV/AIDS education classes as long as the school is assured you will receive that instruction at home.
Age of Minority
- In New York, as with most states, you are considered a minor (someone who is not an adult) if you are under 18 years old.
- This is a legal status that lawmakers created for your protection. We want you to be informed because 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.
- In New York, you can legally consent to sex as of age 17. New York’s statutory rape law is violated when a person engages in sexual activity with an individual who is under 17, if they are not married to them.
- New York’s “Dignity for All Students Act,” commonly referred to as “The Dignity Act” was put into place in 2012 and “seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.”
- New York has various laws and policies that protect the youth LGBTQ+ community.
- Anti-bullying and cyberbullying laws are enacted
- Address youth homelessness
- LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice laws
- Protection from conversion therapy
- There are NO policies that address school suicide prevention and inclusive sex education.
- The mandatory reporting of hate crimes is present for both sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Elimination of Bias Rage and Panic Defense for Criminal Acts is LGBTQ+ friendly.
- There is NO LGBTQ+ friendly law that prohibits profiling by law enforcement.
- There are NO Anti-Equality laws enforced.
- 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 infections (STIs) and HIV in New York.
- Parent or guardian MUST be notified of a positive HIV result.
- A minor does NOT have the right to consent to HIV/AIDS treatment.
- If you are a minor, it is very 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.
- 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.
- New York 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 New York, minors (those under 18) are allowed to get a prescription for contraception without a parent’s permission. (Interesting fact: The state funds a statewide program that gives minors access to confidential contraceptive care.)
- 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 infections, 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, 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.
- New York is VERY PROTECTIVE of abortion rights.
- If you’re younger than 18, you can consent and do not have to notify a parent to get an abortion in New York.
- Parental involvement is not required.
- Abortion is banned at 24-26 weeks of pregnancy (known as fetal viability).
- After viability abortions can happen when:
- A pregnant person’s life is in danger
- The general health of a pregnant person is at risk
- Health care professionals who are qualified to perform an abortion can do so (not just physicians).
- State Medicaid funds and private health insurance plans are REQUIRED to cover abortion costs.
- There is no mandatory waiting period in New York before someone can get an abortion.
- If you need more information on abortion or 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).
- 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.
- New York requires 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.
- New York law had treated sexting involving someone under 18 as the very serious crime of child pornography. A new law will go into effect in New York in 2018, though, that will allow for lesser charges if it is appropriate. For example, a teen could receive an order to go to classes to learn about the dangers of exchanging sexts, rather than going to jail for the crime of child pornography.
- 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.
“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.
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“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.
“Say Yes to The Test,” New York State Department of Health, https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/9678/ 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.
“Sexual Violence Information,” State of New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Office of the Attorney General, New Jersey State Police, 2017, http://www.njsp.org/division/operations/sexual-violence-info.shtml 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.
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“State Laws, New York,” 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: New York,” RAINN, December 2016, https://www.rainn.org/laws-your-state-new-york Accessed December 2017.