Research Paper: Sex Education Annotated Bibliography

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[. . .] Yet even in teaching the mechanics of contraception, a program that fails to recognize power relations between the sexes is unlikely to succeed. In many adolescent sub-cultures, as elsewhere in society, a double standard exists; it is the women who are expected to take sole responsibility for birth control, and yet if they take oral contraceptives or have an intra-uterine device (IUD) they are seen as 'sluts' because it appears that they are expecting to have sex…(Lenskyi 1990: 221)"

The political objectives of sex education must be reconsidered, according to this author, to create lasting change in the more harmful sexual attitudes impacting the status of women in Canadian society. Lenskyi summarizes her pedagogical reccomendations for a feminist revision of the Canadian sexual education curriculum:

"the curriculum would take into account the social context in which males as a group have power and privilege, and females do not; therefore it would be woman-centered, rather than gender-neutral. It would recognize that girls and women are affected in distinct and significant ways by such issues as contraception, pregnancy, abortion, homophobia, and male sexual violence in all its forms.(Lenskyi 1990: 228)."

There have been feminist-oriented studies that look at the psychosocial impacts of insufficient (non-comprehensive) sexual education upon the behaviors and beliefs of male students, as well. A 2001 paper published in Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning presents the position that human sexuality education that focuses upon disease- and pregnancy-prevention in the United Kingdom's sex education program does not address the needs specific to adolescent boys' sexual development. Hilton argues that the avoidance of discussing issues including pornography and homosexuality negatively impact boys' ability to develop healthy attitudes towards women as well as positive feelings about their individual sexual ideals and mores. The author concludes that a more sex-positive approach to the development of state-sanction curriculum is necessary for achieving the specific goals of such programs while positively assisting students' sexual developing in a socially responsible context (Hilton 2001).

The Human Rights Argument for Sexual Education

A 2008 article from the International Journal of Sexual Health examined the efficacy of comprehensive sexual education, which the literature defines as education that covers more than just abstinence promotion, specifically covering explicit contraceptive information for the purposes of preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. The authors examine the importance of comprehensive sexual health education through the lens of human rights, in the increasing call from international bodies for the universal provision of comprehensive sexual health education (Braeken and Cardinal 2008.

The paper concludes that these international organizations must invest material resources to the end of accomplishing this goal. This article provided a useful international contextualization of the projected benefits of and the necessary factors for moving toward comprehensive sexual health education as an internationally-accepted standard of sexual health education and promulgation, particularly useful toward the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies in underdeveloped nations. The benefits of this universal comprehensive sexual health education include an improvement in the status of women's rights internationally, the improvement of maternal/child health outcomes, the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, and healthier global attitudes toward human sexuality. This paper was one which advanced the aforementioned human rights-based framework of arguing that access to comprehensive sexual health education is students' inherent educational right (Braeken and Cardinal 2008).

Evidence and Outcome-Based Research

The ability of researchers to assess the impact of sexual education upon behaviors, attitudes, perceptions and health outcomes is complicated by the fact that these factors are almost exclusively recordable through student self-reporting As a result, the demography and geopolitical factors of student cohorts has been noted to heavily influence the educational and medical outcomes and the perceptions and behaviors in particular of sexual health study cohorts.

One study looked at the sexual information and behavior of over 300 undergraduate students in order to assess the impact of sex education, sexual confidence, and personal knowledge upon sexual health outcomes in order to assess ways in which behavioral and theoretical conceptions of sexuality and behavior are formed. While the participants on the whole demonstrated a lack of strong knowledge pertaining to sexual health, women were generally more knowledgeable than men. The researchers noted a correlation between sexual knowledge and confidence (Weinstein et al. 2008).

In a study conducted via questionnaire administered prior to and following a ten-week long course in human sexuality, researchers found that students' behavior and knowledge pertaining to fertility and sexuality transmitted infection risk and consequence were not significantly changed. Specifically, condom and contraception use did not markedly increase over the course of the class. The students' worry about and perceived risk related to these matters however, was noted to have risen over the period of time covered by the questionnaires. The rate of accumulation of sexual partners was not decreased over the course of the study (Baldwin and Whiteley 1990).


The argument supporting the standardization of comprehensive sexual education in American schools has been made from a variety of salient perspectives, including the psychosocial, the preservation of human rights, public heath and evidence-based health outcomes. The cultural stigma in the United States surrounding the discussion of human sexuality, especially pertaining to controversial political issues such as contraception, abortion, abstinence, and homosexuality, has been a significant barrier in the effort to provide students with comprehensive sexual education. There is hope, however, that an increasing body of scholarly and scientific research identifying multiple positive personal and social benefits to comprehensive sexual health educative will incentivize the process, leading to more sexual health education access for American public school students.


Baldwin, Janice I.; Whiteley, Scott; Baldwin, John D.. "Changing aids- and fertility-related behavior: The effectiveness of sexual education" Journal of Sex Research 27.2 (1990). <

Braeken, Doortje; Cardinal, Melissa. "Comprehensive Sexuality Education as a Means of Promoting Sexual Health" International Journal of Sexual Health 20.1 (2008).


de Ruyter, Doret J.; Spiecker, Ben. "Sex education and ideals" Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning 8.2 (2008). 14 Apr. 2011


Fields, Jessica; Hirschman, Celeste. "Citizenship Lessons in Abstinence-Only Sexuality Education" American Journal of Sexuality Education 2.2 (2007).
Hilton, Gillian L.S.. "Sex Education - the issues when working with boys" Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning 1.1 (2001).


Lenskyj, Helen. "Beyond Plumbing and Prevention: feminist approaches to sex education" Gender and Education 2.2 (1990).


Mabray, Debbie; Labauve, Bill J.. "A Multidimensional Approach to Sexual Education" Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning 2.1 (2002).


Reiss, Michael J.. "Conflicting Philosophies of School Sex Education" Journal of Moral Education 24.4 (1995).


Thatcher, Adrian. "Sex Education 'after Modernity'" International Journal of Children's Spirituality 6.2 (2001).


Weinstein, Rebecca B.; Walsh, Jennifer L.; Ward, L. Monique. "Testing a New Measure of Sexual Health Knowledge and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Sex Education Annotated Bibliography.  (2011, April 14).  Retrieved May 26, 2019, from

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"Sex Education Annotated Bibliography."  14 April 2011.  Web.  26 May 2019. <>.

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"Sex Education Annotated Bibliography."  April 14, 2011.  Accessed May 26, 2019.