First Advisor

Joseph Bohling

Date of Publication

Winter 3-18-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Sex instruction -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century, Conservatism -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century, Education and state -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century, Great Britain -- Moral conditions -- History -- 20th century



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 93 pages)


Two competing forms of sex education and the groups supporting them came to head in the 1970s and 1980s. Traditional sex education retained an emphasis on maintaining Christian-based morality through marriage and parenthood preparation that sex education originally held since the beginning of the twentieth century. Liberal sex education developed to openly discuss issues that reflected recent legal and social changes. This form reviewed controversial subjects including abortion, contraception and homosexuality. Though liberal sex education found support from national family planning organizations and Labour politicians, traditional sex education found a more vocal and powerful ally in the New Right.

This thesis explores the political emergence of the New Right in Great Britain during the 1970s and 1980s and how the group utilized sex education. The New Right, composed of moral pressure groups and Conservative politicians, focused on the supposed absence of traditional morality from the emergent liberal sex education. Labour (and liberal organizations) held little power in the 1980s due to internal party struggles and an insignificant parliamentary presence. This allowed the New Right to successfully pass multiple national reforms. The New Right latched onto liberal sex education as demonstrative of the moral decline of Britain and utilized its emergence of a prime example of the need to reform education and local government.


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