Evangelical Christian parents’ attitudes towards abstinence-based sex education: ‘I want my kids to have great sex!’

Lauren Dent, Patricia Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


While an overwhelming majority of people in the USA support some form of school-based sexual education, the specific content and context for that instruction varies widely, making it difficult to assess support for particular types of programmes. This is particularly the case for evangelical Christians, about whom there is a lack of scholarly consensus concerning support for sexual education. This paper addresses this gap, and examines the assumption that evangelical Christians uniformly support abstinence-only sexual education, using qualitative analysis among a group of evangelical Christians in a medium-sized Texas city. Respondents were asked during interviews to identify the types of sex education-related content they support, and where and how they believe these messages should be taught. Respondents were also asked to identify their rationales for supporting (or opposing) certain elements of sexual education. Interviews revealed a group of evangelical Christian parents who verbalised their explicit opposition to abstinence-based sex education in schools, lamenting the sex-negative messages they believe to be associated with it. It additionally became apparent that these parents believe that their opposition to abstinence-based sexual education aligns with a silent majority of evangelical Christians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalSex Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017


  • Evangelical Christians
  • USA
  • abstinence education
  • comprehensive sex education
  • parental attitudes
  • sex education curriculum


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