243612 Support for school-based sexuality education: No longer just for high school students

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 1:22 PM

Michele J. Moore, PhD , Department of Public Health, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Elissa Barr, PhD , Department of Public Health, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Tammie M. Johnson, DrPH , Department of Public Health, Brooks College of Health, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL
Background: Numerous state and national surveys have documented vast support for abstinence-plus or comprehensive sexuality education to be taught in high school and often middle school. Purpose: This presentation reports recent research indicating that many parents also support sexuality education being taught as early as elementary school. Methods: In 2008, the Florida Department of Health conducted a Child Health Survey (CHS) as part of the state Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) administration. BRFSS is a telephone-based survey of adults. Adults with children in the household who agreed to participate in additional surveys were contacted (n=802). Results: Frequency data showed that 76% of parents would allow their child to participate in age appropriate sexuality education. Most parents supported comprehensive sexuality education (42%), followed by abstinence-plus (32%) and abstinence-only (20%). Most parents supported the following topics being taught in elementary school: communication skills (89%), human anatomy/reproductive information (66%), abstinence (66%), HIV/STIs (55%), and gender/sexual orientation issues (54%). Support was even greater in middle school (66% - 93%) and high school (79% - 96%) for teaching these topics plus birth control and condoms. Chi-square results showed interesting significant differences in support for the type of sex education by almost all parent demographic variables analyzed including race, age, education, income and number of children. Additional comparisons analyzing factors influencing support will be presented. Conclusions: Results add substantial support for age appropriate school-based sexuality education, as well as for the current trend of federal funding to support evidence-based abstinence-plus and comprehensive sexuality education.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education

Learning Objectives:
1. List sexuality education topics parents support at the elementary, middle and high school levels 2. Describe the parent demographics related to support for specific types of sexuality education 3. Indentify data useful in advocacy messages for school-based sexuality education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because my university teaching, community service, and research are in the areas of sexuality education and adolescent sexual health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.