This class will go through the history of sex education starting in the early 1900s to understand the origin of sex education; the motivation of those advocating for it and those fighting against it at various points in history; and the policies on the federal, state, and local level that have impacted what makes it into classrooms around the country.
This three-hour course will cover the original push for sex education which was (unfortunately) born out of racist, sexist, and classist beliefs that shared a lot with the eugenics movement; the rise of the far right (which used sex education as its way into many communities); and the rise/fall/and potential resurgence of abstinence-only programs.
The course will pay particularly attention to how sex education was repeatedly framed as a solution to the new problem of the era be it divorce, teen pregnancy, or the HIV epidemic. While this is often expedient, it has not set sex education up for long-term success. Students will learn the importance of articulating a program’s goals and value beyond promises of pregnancy and disease prevention.
List three historical trends in sexuality education
Explain three examples of stereotypes based on race, gender, and social class that have been perpetuated by some sex education and abstinence-only programs.
Explain one way in which policies at each level of government (federal, state, and local) can impact the sex education young people
List two potential goals for sexuality education programs outside of pregnancy and disease prevention.
Martha Kempner is writer and sexual health expert. She writes about sexual behavior, contraception, STDs, and her efforts to raise sexually healthy girls in a sexually unhealthy world. Her articles explain new research, provide commentary on current events, analyze social trends, and bust myths. Her work appears regularly on rewire.news, thebody.com, whattoexpect.com, and bedsider.org. She is the co-author, with Pepper Schwartz, of the book 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality.
Martha also works with clients to create original website content, manuals, reports curricula, fact sheets, slide shows, infographics, and other publications focused on all aspects of sexuality and sexual health. Clients include Advocates for Youth, American Sexual Health Association, Aspen Institute, Church and Dwight (the manufacturer of Trojan condoms), National Coalition of STD Directors, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and SIECUS.
Each semester, Martha teaches the Sociology of Sexuality at Montclair State University.
Martha has a Master’s Degree in Health Education/Human Sexuality from NYU and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.