Annual Report 2001 - Cornell University
003 Selected Faculty Research

20 Questioning Abstinence-Only Sex Education

Gary J. Simson, Law, and research staff conducted a constitutional analysis in which they evidenced abstinence-only sex education to be unconstitutional because it endorses a religious agenda. Thirty-five percent of public schools with a district-wide policy to teach sex education require courses in abstinence-until-marriage for teens. The researchers maintained that abstinence-only programs violate the First Amendment's "Establishment Clause," which bans laws with the purpose or effect of endorsing religion. The abstinence-only curriculum widely used in the U.S., "Sex Respect," is identified with the Christian Coalition. According to a recent study, the greater majority of U.S. parents want a comprehensive sex education program that encompasses discussions of abstinence along with birth control methods, AIDS prevention and detection, and other topics covering a full range of teens' sexual concerns. Proponents of comprehensive sex education have lobbied legislatures and school boards to reject abstinence-only programs.

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