Overall, Americans agree that sex ed should be taught in schools. It doesn’t matter whether the group polling is a more conservative or a more liberal group – they all come to the same conclusion – teach it:

  • 2009 Fox News Poll: 90% – high schoolers should get info. about pregnancy and contraception, 75% – middle schoolers should get info. about pregnancy and contraception
  • 2015 YouGov/Huffington Post poll: 81% – should be taught in schools (12% not sure & 7% no)

The problem is, they don’t agree on what should be taught…and schools have no guidelines on which to build their sex ed programming!

The federal government says, “Let the states decide!”

The Montana Office of Public Instruction “firmly endorses the concept of local control for schools. Although the sexuality education provided by a local school should be consistent with the most reasoned approach of public health and health education professionals, the content of curriculum is a decision to be made by the local school board with input from the community.”

And actually a lot of districts leave it up to the teachers so even students within the same school may get differing levels of education and content. So if you did or didn’t like what your oldest child was taught in sex ed, just know that their younger siblings might get different information!

In Montana schools are mandated to teach Sex Ed and HIV education. Abstinence must be covered. Most of the schools Bridgercare works with notify parents (and either have them opt-in their kids or more commonly opt-out their kids) before teaching sex ed, but the state doesn’t require parental notification. There are NO laws that prevent sex ed in Montana from promoting religion and the information taught is NOT required to be medically accurate, age appropriate, or inclusive of sexual orientation and gender minorities.

There is no national consensus. According to the Guttmacher Institute (click here for a full table of sex ed and HIV education requirements by state):

24 States + DC: Mandate Sex Ed

34 States + DC: Mandate HIV Education

13 States: Medically accurate

2 States: Prohibit promoting religion

18 States + DC: Must include contraception

18 States: Require instruction on importance of sex only when married

12 States: Include Sexual Orientation (9 inclusive, 3 only negative information)

13 States: Require info about negative outcomes of teen sex and pregnancy

All of the education that Bridgercare provides is medically accurate, developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive and non-shaming. Educators, including our high school Peer Educators, do not share their own personal values related to sex as we believe these are personal and no one has the right to impose their values on others.

In the Gallatin Valley, sex ed is most often taught by physical education teachers. These teachers can either tackle sex ed on their own or bring in a guest educator. The two groups most often asked to teach sex ed in the local middle school and high school classrooms are Bridgercare and Zoecare. Bridgercare is a nonprofit whose stated mission is to “provide excellent, affordable reproductive and sexual healthcare and education in a safe, supportive, empowering atmosphere.” Zoecare is a faith-based nonprofit whose stated mission is to “serve the parents and save the child, with medical excellence, in the love of Christ.” On occasion, schools also invite HAVEN or the Help Center to expand on consent and healthy relationships.

We firmly believe that parents should know what sex ed content is being taught to their children and encourage them to inquire what materials will be taught and in what manner. Please contact Cami at carmijo@bridgercare.org or 406-587-0681 X113 if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about Bridgercare’s Sexual Health Education Program!