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Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Daniel Douglas

Second Advisor

Stephanie Wong


Because there is not federal mandate to teach sexual health education in the United States, the sex education programs taught in schools vary significantly from state to state. As of 2020, 39 states and the District of Colombia mandate sexuality or HIV/AIDS education programs, but even across the states that require sex education to be available, there exists variations in terms of how programs address certain topics, what information is stressed, and importantly, what information is left out. Among the states that do not require sex education statewide, some state’s Department of Education create recommended materials if programs were to be enacted. In short, across the United States, not all sex education is created equal. These disparities in the quality of sexual health education available can reinforce and exacerbate dangerous health outcomes that many young people face, including STI/HIV rates, teen pregnancy, gender-based violence and harassment, and mental health concerns. Yet, truly comprehensive sexual health education (CSE) can act as a corrective force in the life of young people, particularly young people with multiple marginalized identities, through establishing safe networks of support and bolstering the sexual health, wellbeing, and freedoms of many. However, despite these critical outcomes of CSE, there remains a glaring gap in systemic research on what sex education being taught in the United States, how it is taught to students, and the efficacy of different types of programs. This study begins to fill this gap by conducting a comparative analysis of the sexual health education standards and curricula of California, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It seeks to answer how the sexual health education standards differ in terms of basic and comprehensive thematic areas and how disability, queer issues, and abortion are addressed within the sexual health education curricula available in each state.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies. Full-text access is limited to the Trinity campus community.