Comprehensive Sexual Education Policy and Public Health Outcomes

Open Access
Purcell, Johnna Frances
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Eric Plutzer, Thesis Supervisor
  • Michael Berkman, Honors Advisor
  • Sexual Education
  • Sexual Education Policy
  • State Policy
In the past two decades, sexual education has become of particular interest to those studying public policy as solutions are sought to lower the public health problems associated with high risk sexual behavior amongst teenagers including teenage pregnancy and STI contraction. While pervious literature seems to support that comprehensive sexual education curriculums are associated with lower teenage pregnancy and STI contraction rates than abstinence based programs - there has not yet been extensive research into the state curriculum policy regarding curriculum requirements for sexual education in public schools and the public health outcomes these policies create. This paper attempts to fill this gap by studying the relationship between the comprehensiveness of sexual education policies in each state and comparing that to the public health outcomes. By looking at this relationship over a period of eleven years through statistical and case study frameworks, the hope is that this research may characterize the effects of different types of sexual education policies and thereby be used to shape the direction of sexual education at local, state and, federal levels.