- Arkansas law does not require schools to teach sex ed.
- If a school offers sex ed, Arkansas Code § 6-18-703 states that it must be emphasized that abstinence is the only sure means of avoiding pregnancy and the sexual contraction of AIDS and other STDs.
- In 2015, Arkansas Code § 6-16-1004 was amended to include dating violence awareness as a mandatory component of health and safety education for students in grades 7-12. Materials must be age-appropriate and based on scientific research.
- Sex ed curricula are not required to include lessons on consent, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
- House Bill 1592, enacted in 2021, prohibits public schools or open-enrollment public charter schools from entering into any transaction with an individual or entity that provides abortion care (which includes sex educators from Planned Parenthood).
- In February 2023, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed SB 294 into law which prohibits teachers from instructing on sexually explicit materials, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse, gender identity; or sexual orientation prior to 5th grade.
- SB 384, which was also signed into law, requires an adoption awareness curriculum which, among other things, requires lessons on the “reasons adoption is preferable to abortion.”
- SB 81, enacted in 2023, creates criminal liability for distribution of “obscene materials” in school libraries.
- HB 1468, enacted in 2023, prohibits school employees from using students preferred pronouns.
- Local school boards are empowered to establish school-based health clinics, which may provide sexuality education. Such education must include instruction on abstinence.
- School-based health clinics may also prescribe and distribute contraceptives with written parental consent; however, no state funds may be used to purchase condoms or contraceptives.
- Arkansas maintains curriculum standards for physical and health education addressing STDs and HIV beginning in grade five. The standards stress the importance of abstinence, as well as the possible physical, emotional, and social consequences of sexual activity.
Some Sex Ed Advocates Within the State
For more detailed information on how various districts in the state have been implementing these standards — and for recent legislation — you can read SIECUS’s Arkansas profile.