Keeping the Sex in Sex Education: The First Amendment's Religion Clauses and the Sex Education Debate

Southern California Review of Law & Women's Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, Spring 2000

33 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2001

See all articles by Gary J. Simson

Gary J. Simson

Mercer University - Walter F. George School of Law; Cornell University - Law School

Erika A. Sussman

Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman

Abstract

The two dominant approaches to sex education today are "comprehensive" and "abstinence-only-until-marriage." After describing the two approaches in some detail, this article explores the implications of the First Amendment's Religion Clauses for both approaches.

School districts regularly allow parents to opt out of comprehensive sex education on their children's behalf. To the extent, however, that legislatures and school boards are operating on the assumption that such an opt-out is required by the Free Exercise Clause, this article argues that they are mistaken.

The debate on comprehensive versus abstinence-only sex education has been cast thus far in policy rather than constitutional terms. This article maintains, however, that abstinence-only programs present difficulties under the Establishment Clause that should be found to bar their adoption as a matter of constitutional law.

Note: This is a description of the paper and not the actual abstract.

Suggested Citation

Simson, Gary J. and Sussman, Erika A., Keeping the Sex in Sex Education: The First Amendment's Religion Clauses and the Sex Education Debate. Southern California Review of Law & Women's Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, Spring 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=259256

Gary J. Simson (Contact Author)

Mercer University - Walter F. George School of Law ( email )

1021 Georgia Avenue
Macon, GA 31207
United States
478-301-2628 (Phone)

Cornell University - Law School

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Erika A. Sussman

Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman ( email )

Washington Harbour
3000 K Street, NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20007
United States
202-295-8432 (Phone)

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