First Advisor

Tina Burdsall

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Health Studies: Community Health Education and University Honors


Health Studies


Sexual abstinence -- Study and teaching -- United States, Sex instruction for teenagers -- United States, Sex instruction -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States, Teenagers -- Sexual behavior -- United States




Abstinence-only sex education has been a prominent form of reproductive health information for adolescents in the United States. Abstinence-only sex education programs often provide data that is incorrect or factually misleading, even though they are funded with federal dollars. Because of the dated and biased information presented in abstinence-only classrooms, gender stereotypes are reinforced to base women’s worth on their sexuality, traditional marriage is touted as the paramount societal norm, and groups such as LGBQT are marginalized. Facets of abstinence-only programs such as virginity pledges do not demonstrate success in preventing premarital sexual intercourse, but may lead to adverse outcomes such as avoiding STI testing. In comparison to comprehensive sex education, abstinence-only sex education fails to demonstrate significant effects on reducing rates of sexual activity. Thus, adolescents are inadequately prepared to prevent transmission of STIs and pregnancy. Providing comprehensive sex education to US adolescents will promote healthier behaviors and attitudes than abstinence-only curricula.


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