Sexuality Research & Social Policy

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 63–76

Risky business: Sexuality education and research in U.S. schools

Special Issue Articles

DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2006.3.4.63

Cite this article as:
Fields, J. & Tolman, D.L. Sex Res Soc Policy (2006) 3: 63. doi:10.1525/srsp.2006.3.4.63


The authors explore recent efforts to push sexuality education and research for and about young people out of U.S. public schools. Their analysis focuses on two recent local instances in Lubbock, Texas, where young people unsuccessfully argued against abstinence-only education and for comprehensive instruction, and in Fairfax County, Virginia, where school administrators and school board members unsuccessfully tried to add questions about sexual behavior to an existing survey of risk behavior. These and other local debates reflect broader understandings of sexuality as a site of risk and schools as sites of protection from risk. The authors resist this understanding and argue that the real risk lies in failing to equip and support young people in their sexual lives. The article concludes with recommendations for how, first, to resist impoverished perspectives of sexuality as only risk and youth as only vulnerable and, second, to acknowledge young people’s subjectivity and embodiment.

Key words

controversy youth comprehensive sex education abstinence-only-until-marriage education 

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Research on Gender and SexualitySan Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco

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