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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Margaret Hegge


public opinion regarding sex instruction, South Dakota public opinions


Sexuality education included in the school curricula historically provokes controversy. Societal stigmas motivate adult attitudes which guide school boards toward conservative sexuality education. D. Turner (personal communication, 3/29/95) reported that the SD State School Board has been directed by the state's Governor to present new updated guidelines to the SD State Board of Education by January 1997. An objective study of the preventative nature of sexuality education by someone from the medical field could provide guidance for the rebuilding of the mandates for SD educational systems.
The purpose of this study was to examine adult attitudes and preferences regarding school sexuality education programs for students in grades K through 12. The questionnaire examined adult attitudes regarding sexuality education in public school curricula. Questions regarding religious and political conservative or liberal views reported relationships and correlations toward sexuality education attitudes. The methodology utilized a randomized registered voter sample of 68to represent all areas of a rural county in a midwestem state combined with a convenience sample of 120. Statistical analysis yielded results that provide implications for researchers and educators of sexuality education. Interest in the results has been expressed by personnel of the SD State Board of Education Association, SD State Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Department, and SD State Parent Teacher Association, as well as others.
This study found 79.8% of adults were supportive of K-12 sexuality education and 15.5% were nonsupportive. This research found strong support for public school sexuality education with over 75% supporting teen parenting, birth control, reproduction and birth topics. Sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, abstinence value, sexually transmitted disease, and self esteem value and generation were preferred topics.
Attitudes regarding sexuality education differed little between the voters and the parents within the sample. The majority of respondents supported sexuality education within the public school system. A number of topics regarding sexuality were chosen to be taught, all by grade nine, with the self-esteem and values clarification topics chosen for teaching beginning in kindergarten. Church religiosity had the largest inverse effect on the attitudes regarding sexuality education; increased church attendance was inversely related to the value of public school sexuality education according to the adults included in the study.
Summary of the qualitative data supported the findings of the quantitative data. The majority of respondents who wrote comments, or83%, wrote supportive comments while 22% thought public schools should not teach sexuality education. The quantitative data found 87.8% supportive with 6.4% non-supportive of sexuality education.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sex instruction -- Public opinion
Public opinion -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 1996 Aleen Gollis. All rights reserved