Public Policy Center, Annenberg School for Communication, University of
Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
examine US public opinion on sex education in schools to determine how
the public's preferences align with those of policymakers and research
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.
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
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.