Sex Education

August 28, 1981

Report Outline
Controversy and Debate
Problem of Teen-Age Pregnancy
Impact of ‘Secular Humanism’
Special Focus

Controversy and Debate

Opposition on Moral and Other Grounds

Sex education is one of the most controversial issues in American public education. Recent opinion polls indicate that a large majority of Americans approve of teaching sex education in public schools. Yet such courses are mandatory only in New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Even when sex education is provided in schools, birth control often is not discussed. Experts estimate that fewer than one-third of all U.S. public-school students are taking sex education courses that include instruction in contraception.

Unlike most school subjects, sex education deals with a sensitive, highly personal area of life — one that some parents believe should not be discussed in the classroom. These parents maintain that it is their responsibility — or that of their priest, minister or rabbi — to instruct their sons and daughters on sexual matters. Most opponents of sex education see nothing wrong with schools providing instruction in human biology and the “facts of life.” What they object to is what they say are the unintended messages of many sex education programs: to encourage children to experiment with sex and to disregard traditional and religious moral teachings.

Sex education programs “constitute not instruction but indoctrination,” said Jacqueline Kasun, a professor of economics at Humboldt State University and an opponent of sex education in schools. These programs teach “that any kind of sexual choice is perfectly all right and is up to the individual, provided only that it does not produce babies. And that includes homosexuality. It includes masturbation. It includes sex outside of marriage.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sex Education
Sep. 16, 2005  Teen Sex
Jul. 10, 1998  Encouraging Teen Abstinence
Jun. 23, 1989  Sex Education: How Well Does It Work?
Aug. 28, 1981  Sex Education
Mar. 23, 1979  Teenage Pregnancy
Oct. 30, 1957  Sex Education in Schools
Education Policy
Religion and Education