Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Kathryn Birkeland, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Cindy Struckman-Johnson, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Mandie Weinandt


sex education, sexual health, sexuality, South Dakota education

Subject Categories

Child Psychology | Community Psychology | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Social Psychology


Due to the lack of standards set forth by South Dakota, sex education is varied and non-standardized across the state. The goal of this study is to understand what a typical sex education class in South Dakota looks like. A survey was sent to sex educators in South Dakota to assess the demographics of educators, the amount of time spent on sex education, and what topics of sexual health they currently teach in grades 1-5, 6-8, and 9-12 in comparison with the topics they believe should be included in an ideal sex education program. The results show that ideal topic inclusion was higher or equal to current topic inclusion on all topics, suggesting a large disparity between what educators do teach versus what they think they should teach. In comparison to previous research, participants reported better topic inclusion in 6th-8th grade classes and overall worse rates of topic in 9th-12th grade classes. Further analysis showed that barriers to sex education in South Dakota include outdated curriculums, absence of government support, and lack of training for sex educators. The results of this study can be used to close the gap between the information that students currently receive in sex education classes and what they should be receiving, which could have a beneficial impact on the rates of risky sexual behavior and increase the health and wellbeing of students in South Dakota.



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