A Survey of USD Students' Past Sex Education Programs and Their Preferences for an Ideal Program

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Recognizing the lack of formal sexual education in the United States, this study examines the sexual education programs provided to elementary through high school students. In the United States, only 27 states currently mandate sexual and HIV/AIDS education. Of those states, only 17 require the information to be medically accurate (Guttmacher Institute, 2020). In fact, adolescents today are receiving less exposure to important sexual education topics than they received in 2006 (Lindberg, Maddow-Zimet, & Boonstra, 2016). In this SONA survey study there were a total of 562 participants, 75.7% female (n= 424), 23.9% male (n=134), and .4% non binary (n=2). The majority of the participants were female, college-aged (18-24), and white. Of these participants, 90.2% reported having some form of sexual education in 1st-8th grade. However, only 54% reported receiving sex ed during their high school years. While respondent's sex ed experiences varied widely, their ideas of an ideal sex ed program did not. An ideal program endorsed by over 70% of participants includes male and female anatomy, basics of sexual intercourse, STIs, abstinence, contraception, partner communication, sexual consent, sexual harassment, types of sexual behavior, and sexual orientation. Less than 30% of participants endorsed topics such as loss of reputation due to pregnancy, religious values concerning sexuality, and rejection of LGBTQA. Due to half of the participants not having a high school sex ed program this study also investigated their current sexuality knowledge. The individual content analysis of the quiz revealed that only five out of fourteen questions received a passing rate of 60% or more correct answers. The topics that were frequently missed include how various contraception functions, the most effective forms of contraception, male and female anatomy, stages of sexual response, and causes of sexual orientation.

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Cindy Struckman-Johnson

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