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Kaiser/Kennedy School Poll-Sex Education in America

The debate over whether to have sex education in American schools is over. A new poll by NPR,

the Kaiser Family Foundation, and HarvardÆs Kennedy School of Government finds that only 7%

of Americans say sex education should not be taught in schools. Moreover, in most places there

is even little debate about what kind of sex education should be taught, although there are still

pockets of controversy. Parents are generally content with whatever sex education is offered by

their childrenÆs school (see box below), and public school principals, in a parallel

NPR/Kaiser/Kennedy School survey, report little serious conflict over sex education in their

communities nowadays. Nearly three-quarters of the principals (74%) say there have been no

recent discussions or debate in PTA, school board, or other public meetings about what to teach

in sex ed. Likewise, few principals report being contacted by elected officials, religious leaders

or other people in their communities about sex education.

However, this does not mean that all Americans agree on what kind of sex education is best.

There are major differences over the issue of abstinence. Fifteen percent of Americans believe

that schools should teach only about abstinence from sexual intercourse and should not provide

information on how to obtain and use condoms and other contraception. A plurality (46%)

believes that the most appropriate approach is one that might be called ôabstinence-plusö ù that

while abstinence is best, some teens do not abstain, so schools also should teach about condoms

and contraception. Thirty-six percent believe that abstinence is not the most important thing, and

that sex ed should focus on teaching teens how to make responsible decisions about sex.

Advocates of abstinence have had some success. Federal funds are now being made available for

abstinence programs; in his State of the Union address Presiden...

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Kaiser/Kennedy School Poll-Sex Education in America. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:31, November 30, 2021, from