“Formal” sexual health education is instruction that generally takes place in a structured setting, such as a school, youth center, church or other community-based location. This type of instruction is a central source of information for adolescents.
• In 2011–2013, more than 80% of adolescents aged 15–19 had received formal instruction about STDs, HIV and AIDS or how to say no to sex. In contrast, only 55% of young men and 60% of young women had received formal instruction about methods of birth control.1
• Between 2006–2010 and 2011–2013, there were significant declines in adolescent females’ reports of having received formal instruction about birth control, STDs, HIV and AIDs, and saying no to sex. There was also a significant decline in adolescent males’ reports of having received formal instruction about birth control.1
• The share of adolescents aged 15–19 who had received formal instruction about how to say no to sex but had received no instruction about birth control methods increased between 2006–2010 and 2011–2013, from 22% to 26% among females and from 29% to 35% among males.1
• Declines in formal sex education were concentrated among young people residing in rural areas. For example, the share of rural adolescents who had received instruction about birth control declined from 71% to 48% among females, and from 59% to 45% among males.1
• Formal instruction may not be skills-based; in 2011–2013, only 50% of females and 58% of males aged 15–19 reported having received formal instruction about how to use a condom.1
• Only about half of adolescents (57% of females and 43% of males) received formal instruction about contraception before they first had sex; about four in ten (46% of females and 31% of males) received instruction about where to get birth control.1
• As of 2015, fewer than six percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students aged 13–21 reported that their health classes had included positive representations of LGBT-related topics.2