Changing emphases in sexuality education in U.S. public secondary schools, 1988-1999

Case Studies & Research
9 p.
Periodical title
Family Planning Perspectives

This study analyzed data from a nationally representative survey of 3,754 7th-12th grade teachers of the subjects most often responsible for sexuality education. These results are compared to the subset of 1,767 teachers who actually taught sexuality education and another comparable survey from 1988. By 1999, 93% of respondents indicated that sexuality education was being taught in ther schools. This education covered STIs, abstinence, birth control, abortion and sexual orientation. However, there was a steep decline in numbers of teachers supporting and actually providing instruction on contraception, abortion and sexual orientation by 1999. Topics like HIV transmission, STIs, abstinence, resisting peer pressure and using condoms were taught at a younger age in 1999 when compared to 1988. By 1999 more instructors were promoting abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, compared to only 2% in 1988. Some 39% of respondents presenting abstinence as the only option also discussed contraception and condoms. More comprehensive sexuality education covering a range ofátopics, even if controversial, is needed.

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