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CHoosing And Maintaining Effective Programs for Sex Education in Schools

Opt-In & Opt-Out Forms

CHAMPSS Toolbox > Prepare > Opt-In & Opt-Out Forms

What is the purpose of this tool?

The Opt-In & Opt-Out Forms are templates that may be used to obtain parental consent. When parents are notified of the selected human sexuality curricula—or evidence-based program—they must also receive either an opt-in or opt-out form, depending on the site/school district’s policy. In either instance the parent/guardian has the choice to remove their child from the program. Program coordinators/facilitators may use either template to develop their own parental consent forms based on the district’s policy.

What are the differences between the opt-in and opt-out approaches?

With an opt-in approach, the parent has to actively enroll their child in the human sexuality curriculum by signing a form and having the child return it to his/her teacher. With an opt-out approach, a notification is sent home to all students, and the child only returns the signed form if their parent/guardian does not want them to participate in the curriculum. If the form is not returned, the child remains in the class. In accordance with Texas law, school districts must inform parents of their right to remove their child from the human sexuality curriculum without academic punishment or penalty. Please note that in accordance with Texas state law, public school districts must use an opt-in approach. This chart summarizes possible advantages and disadvantages for each approach.

Opt-In Opt-Out
When a parent / guardian is notified of the human sexuality curriculum and has to actively enroll their student in the curriculum.

When a parent / guardian is notified of the human sexuality curriculum and has the choice to remove their child from the curriculum. But if the parent does not act, the child remains in the class.

Pro Con Pro Con
Promotes parental involvement in curriculum in which their children participate

Excludes children from participating in the curriculum who lose their permission slip

Excludes children whose parents/guardians could not/would not sign a permission slip

Promotes parental involvement in curriculum

Includes children who could not return a form due to parental/guardian negligence or the loss of paperwork

Includes children in a curriculum that the parent/guardian might have objected to had they been aware of the curriculum being presented

Either of the two sample forms provided may be used depending on whether the site/school district has an opt-in or opt-out approach. These are only guidelines– each site/school district should adapt or develop a form that best suits their district’s needs.

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