Thank you to the over 400 parents/guardians who completed the Family Life Curriculum review and feedback process. In the communication that was sent on November 18, 2021, regarding the curriculum feedback, a short summary was provided of the state law. Regrettably, the summary that was sent to families and posted on the website was from another bill that failed in the legislature, not the final bill. We apologize profusely and want to ensure that all parents/guardians receive the accurate language from this section of the law, provided below. Please note that the standards included in the curriculum review process and feedback survey were correct. The error was in the summary of the components of the law listed in the email and posted on the website.
CORRECTION: T.C.A. 49-6-1304 describes the required and prohibited components of the Family Life Curriculum:
(a) A family life curriculum shall, to the extent that the topic and the manner of communication is age-appropriate:
(1) Emphatically promote only sexual risk avoidance through abstinence, regardless of a student’s current or prior sexual experience;
(2) Encourage sexual health by helping students understand how sexual activity affects the whole person including the physical, social, emotional, psychological, economic and educational consequences of nonmarital sexual activity;
(3) Teach the positive results of avoiding sexual activity, the skills needed to make healthy decisions, the advantages of and skills for student success in pursuing educational and life goals, the components of healthy relationships, and the social science research supporting the benefits of reserving the expression of human sexual activity for marriage;
(4) Provide factually and medically-accurate information;
(5) Teach students how to form pro-social habits that enable students to develop healthy relationships, create strong marriages, and form safe and stable future families;
(6) Encourage students to communicate with a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult about sex or other risk behaviors;
(7) Assist students in learning and practicing refusal skills that will help them resist sexual activity;
(8) Address the benefits of raising children within the context of a marital relationship and the unique challenges that single teen parents encounter in relation to educational, psychological, physical, social, legal, and financial factors;
(9) Discuss the interrelationship between teen sexual activity and exposure to other risk behaviors such as smoking, underage drinking, drug use, criminal activity, dating violence, and sexual aggression;
(10) Educate students on the age of consent, puberty, pregnancy, childbirth, sexually transmitted diseases, including but not limited to HIV/AIDS, and the financial and emotional responsibility of raising a child;
(11) Teach students how to identify and form healthy relationships, and how to identify and avoid unhealthy relationships;
(12) Notwithstanding § 49-6-1302(a)(1), inform students, in all LEAs, concerning the process of adoption and its benefits. The state board of education, with the assistance of the department of education, shall develop guidelines for appropriate kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12) instruction on adoption, what adoption is, and the benefits of adoption. The guidelines shall be distributed by the department of education to each LEA by the start of the 2015-2016 school year;
(13) Provide instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of:
(A) Child sexual abuse, including such abuse that may occur in the home, in accordance with the declarations and requirements of §§ 37-1-601(a) and 37-1-603(b)(3); and
(B) Human trafficking in which the victim is a child. The instruction provided under this subdivision (a)(13)(B) must be accomplished through the viewing of a video recording approved by the LEA; and
(14) Provide instruction on the prevention of dating violence.
(b) Instruction of the family life curriculum shall not:
(1) Promote, implicitly or explicitly, any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with noncoital sexual activity;
(2) Provide or distribute materials on school grounds that condone, encourage or promote student sexual activity among unmarried students;
(3) Display or conduct demonstrations with devices specifically manufactured for sexual stimulation; or
(4) Distribute contraception on school property; provided, however, that medically accurate information about contraception and condoms that is consistent with public policy may be provided so long as the information is:
(A) Presented in a manner consistent with this part and that clearly informs students that while such methods may reduce the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases or becoming pregnant, only abstinence removes all risk;
(B) Reviewed and approved by the local board of education or charter school governing body, prior to the information being used by the LEA or public charter school in a family life curriculum, to ensure that it is:
(i) Medically accurate;
(ii) Age appropriate;
(iii) In compliance with this part; and
(iv) Aligned to academic standards in this state; and
(C) Provided, upon request, to a parent of a student attending a school in the LEA or charter school, to allow the parent to review the information and to opt the parent’s student out of receiving the information as part of a family life curriculum, without penalty.
We apologize again for this oversight. There was no intent to mislead our families on the new law. Thank you for your understanding.
Communication from November 18, 2021:
Parents/Guardians of Students in Grades 6-12:
With a recent update to state law, effective this school year, all school systems in Tennessee are required to provide a medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education that teaches students:
- The benefits of abstinence and delaying sexual activity;
- The importance of effectively using contraceptives and barrier methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
- The age of consent, and that an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in a sexual activity is required for valid consent;
- How sexual activity results in pregnancy and the effects of pregnancy;
- How to communicate with a parent or other trusted adult about sex;
- How to develop the relationship and communication skills to form healthy, respectful relationships free of violence, coercion, and intimidation; and
- How to make healthy decisions about relationships and sexual activity.
In accordance with this revision to state law, CMCSS is notifying parents/guardians of this new requirement and seeking feedback from parents/guardians on the selection of a Family Life Curriculum. Please click here to review three proposed Family Life Curriculum resources and provide your feedback. Please complete your review by Wednesday, December 1, 2021.
Parents/guardians have the right to excuse their students from any or all portions of the sex education. A student who is excused from any or all portions of the sex education will not be penalized for grading purposes if the student satisfactorily performs alternative health lessons. After a Family Life Curriculum is approved by the School Board and before Family Life Curriculum is taught, CMCSS will provide parents/guardians with more information on how to opt-out of the curriculum.