I offer a hearty recommendation for When Sex Goes to School by sociologist Kristin Luker.
In this engaging book, Luker shows that the debate about sexual education is really about broader issues. She argues that the sex ed debate is in many ways really about sexuality and its relation to marriage, and that what people think about sex and marriage is shaped by their views on gender, religion, and politics. In the course of this fascinating book that reminds me in many ways of her earlier book on abortion (Abortion & the Politics of Motherhood), Luker traces how the two competing perspectives on sex ed—comprehensive and abstinence only—are rooted in broader values that represent opposing world views.
Treating both sides of the debate with respect, Luker gives us an overview of the debate and why the groups tend to talk past one another. I would recommend this compelling (and enjoyable to read) book to scholars of sexuality and the general public alike. I think that anyone who has an interest in sexuality, gender, children’s welfare, American culture, religion, politics, or just well-written non-fiction will find this book well worth their time.
Landon Schnabel is a Ph.D. student in sociology with a minor in gender studies at Indiana University. His research focuses primarily on the intersection of gender and sexuality with religion.