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
- Texas does not require schools to teach sex ed.
- When provided, sex ed must be age-appropriate
- Abstinence must be strongly stressed as “the only method that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), infection with HIV or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).”
- If a school chooses to teach sex education and uses a curriculum developed by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), it must state that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle to the general public and that it is a criminal offense under the Texas Penal Code.
- Teaching about contraceptives, such as condoms and the Pill, is not required.
- Parents or guardians may remove their children from any part of sex education instruction if it conflicts with their beliefs by submitting a written request to the teacher.
- If you want your school to offer a comprehensive sexuality education class in your school then be sure to learn more at SIECUS about your state. You can make a difference!
HIV/AIDS and Other STI Education
- Texas law does not require STI and HIV/AIDS education in schools.
- If STI and HIV/AIDS education is taught, the information provided must be age-appropriate.
- Parents or guardians can remove their children from sex ed classes if it conflicts with their “religious or moral beliefs.” They must submit a written request to the teacher in order to remove their child or children. This is called an “opt-out” policy.
Age of Minority
- In Texas, 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.
- Laws about consent may be different depending on the type of sex—vaginal, anal or oral—and the genders of those having sex.
- The age of consent in Texas is 17.
- There are exceptions for teens when it comes to consenting for sex. If a teen is at least 14 and their sex partner is not more than three years older, that teen can legally consent to sex. For example, a 15-year-old can consent to sex with a 16-year-old because they’re both over 13 and the older person is not more than three years older than the younger person.
- In Texas, there are no non-discrimination laws that protect students in schools from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- There are no statewide anti-bullying laws that protect students based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- State hate crimes laws include sexual orientation but not gender identity.
- Texas has what’s known as a “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts teachers and school staff from talking about LGBTQ+ issues and people.
- 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), including HIV, or to consent to treatment in Texas. However, the health care provider may (but is not required to) inform your parent/guardian.
- If you’re a minor, it’s especially 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 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 parental consent. It is best to contact your doctor or local clinic for more information in your county.
- In Texas, there are currently no laws allowing minors to receive vaccines without parental consent unless they are (i) 16 years old or older and residing apart from parents, managing conservator or guardian and managing their own financial affairs, (ii) on active duty with armed services or (iii) unmarried and pregnant/parent of a child.
- In Texas, a minor (someone under 18) who is married can get a prescription for contraception without a parent’s permission. All other minors must get a parent’s permission to receive a prescription.
- 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.
- 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 illegal in Texas except in rare cases.
- If you are a minor (under 18) and want an abortion, one parent or legal guardian must be notified and give permission before you can get one. This is called parental notification and parental consent. If that’s not possible, you are able to ask a judge for permission. This is called judicial bypass.
- There is a 24-hour mandatory waiting period in Texas before someone can get an abortion.
- You must receive in-person counseling before getting an abortion, unless you live more than 100 miles from the abortion provider. This counseling requirement means you will have to make two trips to the abortion provider location.
- Texas provides Medicaid (health care) coverage for abortion only in cases of a medical emergency, life endangerment to the pregnant person or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
- 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.
- Texas does not require emergency rooms to provide EC to rape survivors but it does require emergency rooms to provide information about 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.
- In Texas, it is illegal for minors (those under 18) to send or possess nude or sexually explicit pictures of themselves or another minor.
“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 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, Texas,” SIECUS, www.siecus.org, 2017, Accessed December 2017.
“State Laws, Texax,” Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, September 2000. https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/state-laws Accessed December 2017.
“The Laws in Your State: Texas,” RAINN, December 2016, https://www.rainn.org/laws-your-state-texas Accessed December 2017.