Hastings Women’s Law Journal


This Note discusses the issue of public school sexual education classes that do not discuss LGBTQ-specific issues. I look at the history of sexual education in public schools in the United States, and the evolving purposes behind such curricula. Next I discuss the social implications of omitting LGBTQ-specific information in sexual education classes, which include the reinforcement of heteronormative beliefs among students. I examine how the failure to inform students of protective measures when having same-sex sexual encounters can have health implications by potentially reinforcing the mistaken belief that such sexual encounters are relatively risk free because there is not a risk of pregnancy. I then turn to the institutional reasons why many sexual education curricula omit LGBTQ-specific information, and the tension between federal funding for sexual education programs and the authority of local districts to control their schools. This includes a discussion of the tensions in the area of constitutional law between a parent's right to control their child's upbringing and the state's right to socialize its citizens through public schools. Lastly I consider possible solutions to this dilemma, including referring students to online education programs and having presentations by outside speakers.