Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Political Science

Advisor/Committee Chair

Patricia Strach


Sex education policy in the U.S has been debated throughout the years largely because of its rates of teen births and sexually transmitted diseases which rank among the highest in developed countries. States are left to their own discretion to decide what kind of sex education curriculum they will implement in schools. The federal government can incentivize states’ education policies but sex education, in particular, has been dealt with differently depending on the federal administration. Despite the change in federal administrations, the federal government’s influence has tended to lean towards promoting abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) sex education begging the question of why states do not mandate comprehensive sex education (CSE). California is viewed as the model state for mandating CSE in its public high schools. A comparison of two different states, Alabama, and New York, try to identify the casual mechanisms that have allowed for neither state to mandate CSE. All of this in an attempt to understand more broadly what the issue of sex education means for politics and American democracy.