Sam Grace's Reviews > When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex--and Sex Education--Since the Sixties

When Sex Goes to School by Kristin Luker
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's review
Aug 25, 09

bookshelves: academic, non-fiction, she-has-eggs, ma-research
Recommended for: anyone interested in the history of sex, politics, and/or education
Read in June, 2009 — I own a copy

Luker doesn't bother to ask any whether or not sexuality is “actually” good or bad, or whether pregnancy is, or even whether protection is. The main point of this book is that sex education in the U.S. is necessarily diverse (as we are diverse), and decisions about sex ed are moral and political decisions. To make an argument that pregnancy might be positive for Latinas because it motivates them in school is as useless as the myriad arguments that have already made their way through about the efficacy of condoms against AIDS. Although Luker's attention is almost exclusively on white parents participation in the sex education debate, this is a crucial message for me as I begin my research. In addition to trying to do work that is applicable on the ground and theoretically interesting, Luker has shown how it must also be considered with regard to its larger political and moral message. What she neglects is to consider the effects that these political decisions have on people of color and where their place in the debate is.

In addition the this message, I learned some important things about the history of sex education that I need to keep in mind as I do my work. Specifically, that the '60s played a crucial role in drawing the line between sexual conservatives and sexual liberals, that sexual conservatives necessarily lose something they value (marriage as the only socially legitimate place for sex) if a sexually liberal message is taught in school, and that “for liberals, responsibility is planning ahead, but for conservatives, it is accountability, not preventing the consequences but living with them.” (193) Furthermore, regarding the construction of sex education curricula, she repeats what I already learned about gender roles and conservatives, but shed new light on the importance of gender roles for liberals.

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Reading Progress

06/03/2009 page 26
6.77% "goes quickly to what is behind the positions for and against sex ed. Assumes teen pregnancy's bad, but great insight into the real debate."
06/10/2009 page 64
16.67% "sex ed began at the turn of the 20th century, to get (white) men to buy into a single moral standard: sex w/n marriage ..."
06/17/2009 page 90
23.44% ""in this [revolution] the losers were the women who looked forward to marriage and family as the most enticing and life-affirming future.""
06/18/2009 page 120
31.25% "Defining "sexual liberals" and "sexual conservatives" - not my favorite chapter."
06/19/2009 page 182
47.4% "interesting general insights about libs and cons ... but less relevant to me now."
06/22/2009 page 242
63.02% "Got better again as she stopped talking about what she thinks people mean and started looking at the social repercussions."

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Grace It IS interesting, and if you are interested in sexual politics you should read it. I found it very accessible, personally, and extremely informative about the history of sex ed.

My thesis is somewhere near the intersection of sex ed, latinidad (being Latino/a), and teen pregnancy.

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