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New Evidence: Data Documenting Parental Support for Earlier Sexuality Education

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ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Numerous studies document support for sexuality education to be taught in high school, and often, in middle school. However, little research has been conducted addressing support for sexuality education in elementary schools.

METHODS

As part of the state Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey administration, the Florida Department of Health conducted the Florida Child Health Survey (FCHS) by calling back parents who had children in their home and who agreed to participate (N = 1715).

RESULTS

Most parents supported the following sexuality education topics being taught specifically in elementary school: communication skills (89%), human anatomy/reproductive information (65%), abstinence (61%), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (53%), and gender/sexual orientation issues (52%). Support was even greater in middle school (62-91%) and high school (72-91%) for these topics and for birth control and condom education. Most parents supported comprehensive sexuality education (40.4%), followed by abstinence-plus (36.4%) and abstinence-only (23.2%). Chi-square results showed significant differences in the type of sexuality education supported by almost all parent demographic variables analyzed including sex, race, marital status, and education.

CONCLUSIONS

Results add substantial support for age-appropriate school-based sexuality education starting at the elementary school level, the new National Sexuality Education Standards, and funding to support evidence-based abstinence-plus or comprehensive sexuality education.

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