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To examine US public opinion on sex education in schools to determine how the public's preferences align with those of policymakers and research scientists.
July 2005 through January 2006.
Randomly selected nationally representative sample of US adults aged 18 to 83 years (N = 1096).
Main Outcome Measures
Support for 3 different types of sex education in schools: abstinence only, comprehensive sex education, and condom instruction.
Approximately 82% of respondents indicated support for programs that teach students about both abstinence and other methods of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Similarly, 68.5% supported teaching how to properly use condoms. Abstinence-only education programs, in contrast, received the lowest levels of support (36%) and the highest level of opposition (about 50%) across the 3 program options. Self-identified conservative, liberal, and moderate respondents all supported abstinence-plus programs, although the extent of support varied significantly.
Our results indicate that US adults, regardless of political ideology, favor a more balanced approach to sex education compared with the abstinence-only programs funded by the federal government. In summary, abstinence-only programs, while a priority of the federal government, are supported by neither a majority of the public nor the scientific community.
Bleakley A, Hennessy M, Fishbein M. Public Opinion on Sex Education in US Schools. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160(11):1151–1156. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archpedi.160.11.1151
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