Article

Parent opinion of sexuality education in a state with mandated abstinence education: Does policy match parental preference?

Department of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Journal of Adolescent Health (Impact Factor: 2.75). 12/2006; 39(5):634-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.04.022
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Despite public debate about the content of sexuality education in schools, state and federal policy has increasingly financed and legislated abstinence-only education over the past decade. Although public schools strive to meet the needs of parents who, as taxpayers, fund the educational system, little is known about parental desires regarding sexuality education in states with mandated abstinence education. The objective of this study was to assess parental opinion about sexuality education in public schools in North Carolina, a state with mandated abstinence education.
Computer-assisted, anonymous, cross-sectional telephone surveys were conducted among 1306 parents of North Carolina public school students in grades K-12. Parental support for sexuality education in public schools and 20 sexuality education topics was measured. We defined comprehensive sexuality education as education that includes a discussion of how to use and talk about contraception with partners.
Parents in North Carolina overwhelmingly support sexuality education in public schools (91%). Of these respondents, the majority (89%) support comprehensive sexuality education. Less than a quarter of parents oppose teaching any specific topic, including those typically viewed as more controversial, such as discussions about sexual orientation, oral sex, and anal sex. Parents' level of education was inversely related to support for specific sexuality education topics and comprehensive education, although these differences were small in magnitude. More than 90% of respondents felt that parents and public health professionals should determine sexuality education content and opposed the involvement of politicians.
Current state-mandated abstinence sexuality education does not match parental preference for comprehensive sexuality education in North Carolina public schools.

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