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Sex Education Policy: Need for a Standard Definition of Medically Accurate Information

Courtney M. Gonzalez, BS, CHES, Diana F. Karczmarczyk, PhD, MPH, MCHES, Brittney L. Douress, BS, and Mackenzie M. Scott, BS


In comparison to other western industrialized nations, the rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among youth aged 15-19 is higher in the United States. Since the 1980’s, the United States federal government has intervened to aid in lowering these rates by funding a variety of abstinence-only programs. Despite almost $1.5 billion federal dollars spent on efforts to reduce pregnancy and STIs among this subpopulation, there have been unsustainable declines. There are significant concerns about the lack of a definition and description for medically accurate curriculums. To better understand the topic, a review of the historical and legislative context of federal and state policies are presented. Legal loopholes have resulted in mixed interpretations for sex education content. As a result of this, programs targeting youth reflect conservative ideology with information that is not medically accurate. As an example Mississippi’s state policy for sex education programs is analyzed and reviewed. A recommendation is offered for a scientifically supported definition of the term medically accurate. Furthermore, the authors put forward that sex education programs need to be taught using medically accurate information, skill-based curriculum, and inclusive communication methods for all students.

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Suggested Citation:

Gonzalez, C. M., Karczmarczyk, D. F., Douress, B. L., & Scott, M. M. (2016). Sex education policy: need for a standard definition of medically accurate information. Pedagogy in Health Promotion, 3(4), 221-227. doi:10.1177/2373379916678234

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