The Future of Evidence: Queerness in Progressive Visions of Sexuality Education

Abstract

“Evidence” has replaced “abstinence” as the idea with foundational cultural authority in sexuality education debates, policy, and practice. In a move emblematic of this shift, leading sexual health organizations proposed the Future of Sex Education (FoSE), the first national standards for evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education that exemplified the push toward scientific, evidence-based standards. We examine FoSE’s attempts to broaden the scope of traditional evidence-based sexuality education policies and how sociological feminist analyses and queer theory can advance understandings of sexuality education’s capacity to effect social change. FoSE’s reliance on scientific evidence reinforces future-orientated narratives of (queer) youth sexuality and considers the possibilities and limitations these narratives suggest for young people’s sexual subjectivities. A theory of queer utopias complicates FoSE’s understandings of science, education, and the future, generating a queer utopic sexuality education that allows room for ambivalence and ambiguity in young people’s sexualities.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    FoSE has been met with similar polarized responses since its 2019 adoption in the Austin Independent School District, with some conservative groups opposing the curriculum’s inclusion of condoms, emergency contraception, and LGBTQ issues, and some parents and school officials supporting the document’s focus on anatomy and sexual consent (Gabriel, 2019).

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Chlöe Brushwood Rose, Lorena Garcia, Jen Gilbert, Emily Mann, Roe McDermott, Cameron Michels, Evren Savci, Christine Williams, Sue Winton, and anonymous SRSP reviewers for feedback on earlier versions of this article.

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O’Quinn, J., Fields, J. The Future of Evidence: Queerness in Progressive Visions of Sexuality Education. Sex Res Soc Policy 17, 175–187 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-019-00395-z

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Keywords

  • Sexuality education
  • Adolescent sexuality
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Futurity
  • Science