Adults Who Care
This page is for anyone who spends time with adolescents and cares about their health. Maybe you work in a school, for a youth-serving organization, or you’re a parent. Many adolescents rely on the adults in their lives as they face challenges and make important decisions.
In fact, teens say that parents most influence their decisions about sex. We hope this content helps start and support meaningful conversations between you and the adolescents in your life. Learn more below about how to support the young people in your life in making safe, healthy choices.
Know Their Rights
Minors in Illinois (age 12 and over) are legally allowed access to testing and treatment for STIs, and to get birth control without anyone’s permission.
Young people should be encouraged to discuss these important topics with a trusted adult, but legally, they can access these services without the permission of a parent or guardian.
Unaccompanied minors in Illinois may access primary health care services at a provider’s discretion without notifying a parent.
This law applies only to minors aged 14-18 years, provided they are living independently and are managing their own affairs. Such a minor is not legally required to be homeless, nor is that minor required to be formally emancipated from a parent.
Connecting Youth to Health Care
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Student Health & Wellness provides support for trusted adults referring youth to Health Care services.
All school personnel can refer students to sexual health services (SHS) through:
- One-on-one conversations with students
- Raising general awareness to all staff and students about where students can access this health care
A referral point person or team at each school can coordinate the school’s efforts from finding a health center for referrals to answering staff/parent questions. Check out the one-pager below:
Help a young person locate health care or other services:
Visit the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Resource Guide and search by service type, or click on a topic to get started – then narrow down by zip code to locate services in your area.
Note: this site is constantly updated based on user input, so be sure to use the feedback button on the upper right hand corner if you encounter missing or inaccurate information.
The CPS Sexual Health Education curriculum builds a foundation of knowledge and skills for students in grades K-12 – lessons are age-appropriate for every grade level. The curriculum is overseen by the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW). To help students make informed decisions and safe choices, the CPS curriculum covers topics such as human development, healthy relationships, decision making, abstinence, contraception and disease prevention.
According to the CPS Sexual Health Education Policy:
- Schools must teach sexual health education every year (300 minutes/year in K-4th grades and 675 minutes/year in 5th-12th grades).
- Every school must have at least two trained instructors who have completed the District’s instructor training. CPS OSHW holds trainings throughout the year for CPS, charter school, and community organization staff. Learn more here.
- The CPS curriculum is comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate.
- The CPS curriculum is also aligned with the Illinois Standards for Physical Development and Health and Social / Emotional Learning and the National Sexuality Education Standards. Click here to review the National Sexuality Education Standards
- CPS views parents/guardians as the primary educators of their children for sexual health.
- In alignment with Illinois law, parents/guardians have the right to opt out their child(ren) from a portion of and/or all instruction. Schools must send home written notification to alert parents/guardians that instruction will take place.
CPS Sexual Health Resources
- Sexual Health Education Overview – English
- Sexual Health Education Overview – Spanish
- Sexual Health Education Scope and Sequence
- CPS Sexual Health Education for Parents
- Sexual Health Education CBO Locator (Download to find community-based orgs providing sex ed in schools)
- CPS Sexual Health Education Knowledge Center page (for CPS staff, CPS username required)
Keeping Youth Safe
There are resources available and CPS policies in place to help keep students safe while they’re at school. Read on to learn more.
LGBTQ+ Safety and Gender Identity Guidelines
Many LGBTQ+ youth feel unsafe in their school environment. Learn more about what the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness is doing to create safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ students
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness has partnered with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center to develop a training to educate all CPS staff and community members about sexual abuse prevention and response, including mandated reporter obligations under Illinois law and CPS policy.
Abuse is a serious matter and it is up to adults to keep young people safe. CPS and Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center created the below printable resources “4 Things You Need to Know to Stay Safe”:
Learn more about the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center here.
Dating and Sexual Violence
To assist in identifying what steps need to be taken in the event that you learn that an act of sexual violence has taken place, please view the CPS Sexual Violence Response Tree.
Did you know that the Chicago Department of Public Health provides free condoms and condom dispensers to community and school partners across the city? To find out how where to get free condoms, visit www.chicagowearscondoms.com. For more information about how to become a program partner and receive free condoms for your site, please contact
Chicago Public Schools does not have a formal policy on condom availability—it’s up to each school’s principal.
If schools seek to make condoms available to students, the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness has provided the following guidance:
- Schools making condoms available should ensure that staff who have completed the CPS Sexual Health Education Training are accessible for student questions. By completing this training these staff will have:
- factual information on topics related to condom use, including STIs/HIV, other contraceptive methods, human development, puberty, healthy relationships and identity;
- practical experience on condom demonstrations and information for proper and effective use of condoms to reduce the risk of STIs, including HIV, and/or unplanned pregnancy; and
- the ability to provide answers to questions that students may have about sexual health.
2. Students should be made aware of the time and place condoms will be made available in the school.
3. Parents/guardians should be notified, before any sexual health education is provided, that condoms will be available to students. School employees should not distribute condoms, but may make them available in a place students can access (e.g., in a bowl on a desk for students to take on their own).
4. Principal approval and support of condom availability is required.