Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Lucy E. Bailey
Few topics in the history of American schooling have been as fraught with controversy as that of sex education. Since concerned leaders introduced advice manuals into the nineteenth-century landscape to combat social decay and disease, sex education has remained a highly contested site in which conflicting beliefs about adolescence, morality, relationships, and public health have been played out across the twentieth century. Sexuality is simultaneously a personal and profoundly public matter central to human relationships, public health, and the reproduction of citizenry. From nineteenth-century medical pamphlets to HIV/AIDS prevention today, sex education raises complex questions for American educators: What role should schools play in such private and public terrain? What should constitute the curriculum, and what should be its purpose? When does sexual information shift from acceptable to dangerous? What constitutes healthy, appropriate sexual expression? Who should decide? The contours of sex education have shifted dramatically as concerned citizens, educators, ...