Master of Education Research Theses

Date of Successful Defense


Date Degree Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M.Ed.)




Michael W. Firmin, Ph.D.


comprehensive sex ed, abstinence, social hygiene, sexual revolution


This thesis explored the history of American public school sex education since 1900. It identified key points in sex education development. Six historical events were highlighted: (1) The social hygiene and the birth control movements, (2) research by Alfred Kinsey, (3) the sexual revolution, (4) creation of SIECUS, (5) the discovery of AIDS and, 6) the reform of the welfare system. An interpretation of these factors suggested: (1) countercultural voices of previous eras have become the dominant voices in current sex education, (2) the philosophical development of “comprehensive” sex education was linked to a personal justification of unconventional sexual behaviors, (3) inserting “science” within the sex education debate usually meant “change” of the status quo, (4) the progressive era of the early 1900s may be reinventing itself. Parents, policymakers, and educators can use this study to design a message that helps teens avoid all risks related to sexual activity.



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