Nearly twenty years after the publication of Michelle Fine’s essay “Sexuality, Schooling, and Adolescent Females: The Missing Discourse of Desire,” the question of how sexuality education influences the development and health of adolescents remains just as relevant as it was in 1988. In this article, Michelle Fine and Sara McClelland examine the federal promotion of curricula advocating abstinence only until marriage in public schools and, in particular, how these policies constrict the development of “thick desire” in young women. Their findings highlight the fact that national policies have an uneven impact on young people and disproportionately place the burden on girls, youth of color, teens with disabilities, and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender youth. With these findings in mind, the authors provide a set of research guidelines to encourage researchers, policymakers, and advocates as they collect data on, develop curricula for, and change the contexts in which young people are educated about sexuality and health.
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