Below the (Bible) Belt: Religion and Sexuality Education in American Public Schools

31 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2011

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Date Written: August 10, 2011


This paper examines the struggles over sexuality education in American public schools, and especially the role of religion in these contests. The conflicts over the actual curricula often occur school district by school district or within individual states (see for example Elliott 2010). The disputes over federal support for sex education focus on the national institutions: the Congress, the presidency, the courts, and the bureaucracy. The contests over curricula and resources are not the focus of this paper, however. Here, I am more interested in understanding the struggle over beliefs, values, and ideas. In doing so, I first consider the ‘worldview problem’ that so clearly distinguishes between supporters of AO and CSE. Next, I examine the invisible and (sometimes) visible hand of religion in the sex ed controversies. I subsequently discuss the ‘battle over science’ which is fought over public opinion, programmatic effectiveness, and governmental support.

Keywords: morality policy, morality politics, religion, sex education

Suggested Citation

Rom, Mark Carl, Below the (Bible) Belt: Religion and Sexuality Education in American Public Schools (August 10, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Carl Rom (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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