Many people simply expect controversy when talking about sexuality education. In fact, many schools often city fear of controversy – not actual controversy or content – as a reason not to teach sexuality education. So, we posed the question:
What do parents want their children to learn about sex in school?
We partnered with the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to conduct a survey of parents of NC public schoolchildren. Conducted between November 2008 and January 2009, the survey asked a random sample of parents about their views on sexuality education, what should be taught, when teaching should commence and how long it should last, and other topics.
- 91.8% of parents thought sexuality education should be taught in public schools;
- Two-thirds of parents thought sexuality education should start by the 6th grade; and
- More than 60% of parents thought students should receive at least 18 hours or more per year of sexuality education in high school.
The survey asked parents whether or not they wanted specific topics included in public school teaching of sexuality education. More than 95% of parents thought sexuality education should include the following items:
- Transmission and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (99.6%)
- Transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS (99.5%)
- What to do if one has been raped or sexually assaulted (99.4%)
- The basics of reproduction or how babies are made, pregnancy, and birth (98.6%)
- How to deal with pressure to have sex (99.4%)
- How to talk with a girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner about not having sex (98.2%)
- How to talk with parents about sex and relationship issues (98.7%)
- How to deal with the emotional issues and consequences of being sexually active (97.8%)
- How to talk with a girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases (97.1%)
- Waiting to have sex until after graduating from high school (96.2%)
- Effectiveness and failure rates of birth control methods, including condoms (97.1%)