Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Allison Chappell

Committee Member

William Agyei

Committee Member

Mona Danner

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 G43 2008


According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the teen pregnancy rate rose by 3% between 2005 and 2006, presenting the first increase since 1991. These findings are troubling in light of the consequences of teen pregnancy to teen mothers, their children, and society in general. Many commentators suggest that one method of reducing the rate of teen pregnancies is through sex education programs, particularly in the public school system. However, despite the fact that discussions of sex education in public school have been present since the 1920s, polls indicate that there is still a portion of the public that is unsupportive of these programs. The present study seeks to fill a gap in the literature by investigating predictors of support for sex education in public schools using data from the 2006 General Social Survey. It has been over 25 years since this topic has been examined in the social science literature. Guided by the seminal work of sexuality theorist Ira L. Reiss, I examine the impact of labor shortages, religiosity, militarism, gender egalitarianism, regulation of sexuality, and a naturalistic view of sexuality on attitudes toward sex education. Results suggest that a number of Reiss's theoretical concepts are predictive of attitude toward sex education in public schools. Hispanics, those with high levels of religiosity, those who perceived that it would be difficult to find a job, and those who supported regulation of sexuality were shown to be significantly less likely to support sex education in public schools. When compared to previous research, the findings from this study show that predictors of attitude toward sex education have changed over the last 25 years. Finally, due to the overwhelming support for sex education observed in this study, future research should examine predictors of attitude toward the content of sex education programs instead of general support or opposition.


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