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These States Have the Worst, Least Comprehensive Sex Education Programs

Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the U.S. has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates among developed nations. Given the nationwide emphasis on education in general — and combined with the recent change in Roe V. Wade — the dearth of sexual education in schools in many states can seem quite ironic.

Though the United States regulates the curriculum and desired outcomes of math and English classes with standardized tests, sexual education lacks that same oversight. Only 22 states require sexual education and of those, only 13 require it to be medically accurate.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention School Health Profiles, the experts at HealthGrove, a health research site powered by Graphiq, ranked the states on their sex education programs. The school health profiles assessed school health policies in states, U.S. territories and large urban school districts.

To do this, HealthGrove looked at the most recent CDC profile evaluating the 2013-2014 school year and selected survey results related to sexual education. There were 23 results chosen; each question assesses a different area of the sexual education a school provides, ranging from teachings on HIV to birth control.

The 23 results consist of eight questions that assess sexual education in grades six through eight, eight questions that assess sexual education in grades nine through 12, two questions concerning birth control teachings, two questions assessing overall performance in grades six through 12 and three bucket questions that assess overall teachings about HIV, sexuality and STD prevention in schools.

HealthGrove categorized the first 20 survey questions as pertaining to general sexual education and the last three bucket questions as pertaining to detailed sexual education. In each category, states’ scores were calculated on percent rank, meaning that the lowest state in each category gets a score of zero. By scoring both of these categories and then averaging them, the analysts at HealthGrove created an Overall Sexual Education score by which to rank the states.

Though no state secured a perfect score of 100, the higher the score, the better the sexual education provided. The states with the lowest scores, and therefore highest rankings, provide the worst sexual education.

Note: Schools are not legally required to answer and provide data from these questionnaires. For this reason, some states such as Utah, Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas were not considered due to insufficient data.

States ranked from BEST sex education score down to WORST:

1. New York (best)

  • General: 96.07
  • Specific: 94.35
  • Overall: 95.21

2. New Jersey

  • General: 95.3
  • Specific: 94.73
  • Overall: 95.01

3. Wisconsin

  • General: 96.87
  • Specific: 72.98
  • Overall: 84.92

4. New Hampshire

  • General: 79.77
  • Specific: 89.85
  • Overall: 84.81

5. Rhode Island

  • General: 95.3
  • Specific: 70.28
  • Overall: 82.79

6. Oregon

  • General: 86
  • Specific: 79.08
  • Overall: 82.54

7. West Virginia

  • General: 72.83
  • Specific: 85.05
  • Overall: 78.94

8. Maryland

  • General: 68.17
  • Specific: 85.48
  • Overall: 76.82

9. Delaware

  • General: 62.77
  • Specific: 83.32
  • Overall: 73.04

10. Maine

  • General: 72.03
  • Specific: 71.9
  • Overall: 71.97

11. North Carolina

  • General: 60.4
  • Specific: 82.3
  • Overall: 71.35

12. Minnesota

  • General: 90.63
  • Specific: 51.33
  • Overall: 70.98

13. Indiana

  • General: 75.9
  • Specific: 61.87
  • Overall: 68.88

14. Illinois

  • General: 72.03
  • Specific: 61.65
  • Overall: 66.84

15. Nevada

  • General: 71.27
  • Specific: 57.15
  • Overall: 64.21

16. Washington

  • General: 65.07
  • Specific: 62.95
  • Overall: 64.01

17. Vermont

  • General: 41.07
  • Specific: 71.75
  • Overall: 56.41

18. Michigan

  • General: 51.13
  • Specific: 53.21
  • Overall: 52.17

19. Montana

  • General: 61.97
  • Specific: 41.59
  • Overall: 51.78

20. Pennsylvania

  • General: 57.3
  • Specific: 40.86
  • Overall: 49.08

21. Idaho

  • General: 51.87
  • Specific: 45.88
  • Overall: 48.87

22. North Dakota

  • General: 64.27
  • Specific: 32.51
  • Overall: 48.39

23. Iowa

  • General: 58.83
  • Specific: 37.45
  • Overall: 48.14

24. Wyoming

  • General: 62.73
  • Specific: 32.43
  • Overall: 47.58

25. Hawaii

  • General: 50.33
  • Specific: 43.12
  • Overall: 46.73

26. Connecticut

  • General: 27.07
  • Specific: 59.62
  • Overall: 43.34

27. South Carolina

  • General: 36.4
  • Specific: 48.72
  • Overall: 42.56

28. Arkansas

  • General: 44.13
  • Specific: 40.29
  • Overall: 42.21

29. Virginia

  • General: 33.3
  • Specific: 49.01
  • Overall: 41.15

30. Kansas

  • General: 51.1
  • Specific: 26.04
  • Overall: 38.57

31. Georgia

  • General: 31.73
  • Specific: 38.4
  • Overall: 35.07

32. Mississippi

  • General: 26.3
  • Specific: 43.48
  • Overall: 34.89

33. Massachusetts

  • General: 27.1
  • Specific: 41.02
  • Overall: 34.06

34. Kentucky

  • General: 23.2
  • Specific: 44.71
  • Overall: 33.95

35. Missouri

  • General: 31.73
  • Specific: 34.27
  • Overall: 33

36. California

  • General: 9.27
  • Specific: 41.3
  • Overall: 25.28

37. Ohio

  • General: 20.9
  • Specific: 26.57
  • Overall: 23.73

38. Florida

  • General: 10.83
  • Specific: 27.73
  • Overall: 19.28

39. Nebraska

  • General: 27.1
  • Specific: 10.65
  • Overall: 18.87

40. Alabama

  • General: 10.8
  • Specific: 25.9
  • Overall: 18.35

41. Tennessee

  • General: 4.6
  • Specific: 20.96
  • Overall: 12.78

42. South Dakota

  • General: 10.03
  • Specific: 3.23
  • Overall: 6.63

43. Alaska

  • General: 2.3
  • Specific: 4.76
  • Overall: 3.53

44. Arizona

  • General: 0
  • Specific: 0.36
  • Overall: 0.18

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