Health Care and Privacy
Getting older means you have more decisions to make about sex. Every state has its own laws about how old you have to be to get sex education or birth control, see a health care provider or even to have sex at all. Learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a young person in North Carolina.
In North Carolina
North Carolina law protects your right to take care of your sexual health, which we think is pretty smart. Here are some of your rights.
At any age you can:
- See a health care provider for STI treatment/testing, birth control, pregnancy tests, prenatal care, substance abuse treatment, or outpatient mental health treatment without a parent’s permission.
- Purchase certain types of emergency contraception—including Plan B One-Step, Next Choice ONE DOSE, , My Way, After Pill and Levonorgestrel—over the counter at a pharmacy without a prescription. This is true for all people, regardless of sex or gender.
- Get a prescription for ella emergency contraception.
- Get birth control from a medical provider. This includes prescription-based birth control and methods you get at a health care provider’s office like the shot, implant and IUD.
- Purchase condoms, male or female, and lube.
Before you’re age 16:
- You can’t legally consent to having sex.
If you’re over 18 years old:
- You’re legally considered an adult and you can do whatever you want—except drink alcohol or get affordable car insurance.
School Sex Ed
All public schools are required by law to provide sex education, called Reproductive Health and Safety Education, to their students who are in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. In reality, though, some schools do not.
According to the law, sex education must include medically accurate information on:
- All birth control methods approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration such as the pill, the patch, condoms, IUDs, etc.
- The transmission and prevention of STIs and HIV/AIDS.
- Sexual assault, sexual abuse and human trafficking.
- Abstinence until marriage.
However, your parents have the right to pull you out of these classes if they want.
School-based sex ed doesn’t cover everything. There’s not enough time in the day to cover everything about sex, and schools might not be comfortable teaching some topics. Fill in some of the blanks in your sex ed by exploring the Playbook.
Unfortunately, North Carolina doesn’t have many laws that specifically apply to LGBTQ young people. However, a lot of the laws described on this site can work in your favor.
No matter how old you are, you can access STI testing and treatment and birth control, as well as mental health care, without needing a parent’s permission.
There’s no age requirement to buy condoms or lube.
North Carolina’s anti-bullying law, the School Violence Prevention Act, says your school is supposed to protect you from harassment based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Federal laws like Title IX protect your equal access to education.
Anyone, no matter how old they are, can purchase male condoms, female condoms and lube.
Some stores may keep them behind the counter or in a locked case. All you have to do is ask for them!