Minnesota State Profile
Minnesota received no federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Fiscal Year 2007. 1
Minnesota Sexuality Education Law and Policy
In 1988, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill requiring school districts to develop and implement a comprehensive HIV/AIDS-prevention and risk-reduction program. In 1999, the law was amended to include instruction on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and “helping students to abstain from sexual activity until marriage.”
While the state has not developed a specific curriculum or set of standards, each school district must have “a comprehensive, technically accurate, and updated curriculum that includes helping students to abstain from sexual activity until marriage” and must target “adolescents, especially those who may be at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and diseases, for prevention efforts.”
Minnesota also requires each school district to:
[H]ave a procedure for a parent, guardian, or an adult student, 18 years of age or older, to review the content of the instructional materials to be provided to a minor child or to an adult student and, if the parent, guardian, or adult student objects to the content, to make reasonable arrangements with school personnel for alternative instruction.
This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.
See Minnesota Statutes 120B.20 and 121A.23.
Bill to Mandates Sexuality Education in Schools
House File 615 and Senate File 588, introduced in February 2007, would have allowed school districts to implement age-appropriate, medically accurate, sexuality education programs in kindergarten through grade six, and mandate such education in grades seven through twelve. Such sexuality education must take an “abstinence-first approach,” but must also include information on contraception when age-appropriate. School districts would have been required to establish procedures for parents and guardians to review all related educational materials, as well as to give parents and guardians the option to remove their children from any or all of the sexuality education instruction. The bills also stated that the Department of Education could offer services to help school districts craft and implement these programs, which may be done by creating eight regional training centers. These bills mirror House File 3708 and Senate File 2977 from 2006; however, HF 615 designates specific dollar amounts to be appropriated for these programs from the general fund for certain fiscal years, specifies the dollar amount to be used for establishing training centers, and provides resources for carrying out the activities. HF 615 and SF 588 were referred to the K-12 Finance Division of the House and Senate Committees on Education in April 2008. Both chambers ultimately added this language as provisions to the Education Omnibus bills. Each chamber passed its omnibus bill with the language on sexuality education included. The conference committee reached resolution between the two versions in early May 2008, but the sexuality clause failed to make it into the final version, in part because conference committee members feared the Governor would veto the entire bill due to the inclusion of sexuality education.
Emergency Contraception Availability Required for Sexual Assault Victims
Senate Bill 1266, introduced in February 2007, requires hospital emergency rooms to offer and provide emergency contraception, prophylactic antibiotics, and treatment information to victims of sexual assault. The bill was filed on May 4, 2007 as Chapter No. 42 and is now law.
Bill to Mandate Sexuality Education in Schools
House Bill 3708 was introduced in March 2006 and assigned to the House Committee on Education Policy and Reform in March 2007. Senate Bill 2977 was introduced in January 2006 and assigned to the Senate Committee on Education in March 2007. These bills would have allowed sexuality education in grades K–6 and required it in grades 7–12. These bills were largely the same as HF 615 and SF 588. Neither bill made it out of its committee.
GSA Wins Rights, For Now
December 2006; Minneapolis, MN
In December 2006, the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a gay-straight alliance at Maple Grove High School. Administrators at the school had prohibited the group, Straights and Gays for Equality (SAGE), from advertising on campus, fundraising, or going on field trips. The school claimed that usage of school space, time, and equipment was reserved for organizations related to curricular activities. The school did, however, provide these amenities to other non-curricular groups such as the synchronized swim team and cheerleading squad.
Students took the school to court arguing that the Equal Access Act requires schools to treat all student clubs equally. The 8th Circuit agreed, saying that the school must offer the same opportunities to SAGE as it does to other student organizations.2
Parents Protest Discussion of Homosexuality by Openly Gay Teacher
Parents of students at Interdisciplinary Downtown School were enraged over a second-grade teacher’s decision to tell his class that he is gay. The controversy arose from a class period focused on diversity. The teacher spoke about different types of families and read his students a book about a family with two mothers. He then told his students that he is gay.
Some parents were upset that they had not been notified before the topic of homosexuality was raised in the classroom. Other parents and community members staged a protest at the school, voicing objection to any school discussions on homosexuality. Some parents asked that their children be switched to different classes. The school principal, however, refused the parents’ requests, claiming that students are thoughtfully placed into specific classrooms.3
The school’s curriculum supports a mission of diversity, which is welcomed by most of the community.4 Parents have the right to review school curriculum and to report any grievances to the school board.
Minnesota’s Youth: Statistical Information of Note
Minnesota did not participate in the 2007 Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey.
The Minnesota Department of Health would have been eligible for $488,623 in Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in Fiscal Year 2007. The Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage grant requires states to provide three state-raised dollars or the equivalent in services for every four federal dollars received. The state match may be provided in part or in full by local groups. Minnesota, however, does not apply for these funds due to the extraordinary restrictions upon how the money must be spent. Therefore, the state does not match funds nor does it have organizations supported by this type of federal money.
The decision was partially a result of Minnesota’s evaluation of its Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, Education Now and Babies Later (ENABL), in 2003 which found that ENABL had reached 45,500 junior high students. The evaluation involved pre- and post-test surveys with follow-up surveys one year later. While youth did report that the program made them feel more comfortable talking with their parents about sex, the evaluation explains, “There was little impact of the curriculum on youth’s attitudes, sexual intentions, and behaviors after one year.”5 Evaluators also expressed concern about the “ability of the initiative to reach students and families of color.”6
The report found that sexual activity among junior high school participants of the ENABL program at three schools doubled between 2001 and 2002 and those participants who said they would “probably” have sex during high school almost doubled as well.7 The evaluation, which was conducted by Professional Data Analysts and Professional Evaluations Services, concluded that ENABL’s weaknesses were the result of the program constraints rather than the way it was implemented. The evaluators recommend that any further intervention be based on a more comprehensive sexuality education approach.8
The evaluation also found that the majority of parents surveyed by the Minnesota ENABL program (77 percent) wanted their children to learn about both abstinence and contraception. In fact, only 20 percent of these Minnesota parents wanted abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to be taught to their children. This result closely mirrors the findings of numerous national surveys.9
Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) and Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) Grantees
There are no CBAE or AFLA grantees in Minnesota.
Federal and State Funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in FY 2007
Minnesota did not receive abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in Fiscal Year 2007.
Minnesota Department of Health
Division of Community and Family Health
P.O. Box 64882
St. Paul, MN 55164-0882
Phone: (651) 201-3752