Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Sandra A. Rigazio-Digilio, Dr. Shannon E. Weaver, and Dr. Steven K. Wisensale

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Sex education in the United States has been a highly debated topic. The history of sex education depicts the changing narratives of both the public and the government’s ideals on the topic. Due to the discrepancy between the publics attitudes and perceptions versus the governments ideals, this thesis is the first of its kind to conduct an initial thematic analysis of available bodies of knowledge across the five core mental health disciplines (i.e., marriage and family therapy, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work, and psychiatric nursing) to determine how the current state of sex education programs in the U.S. is addressed since 1998. By using a thematic analysis, the researcher and coder analyzed a total of 122 relevant journals that were associated with each mental health profession in order to acquire 11 pertinent articles. The researcher and coder thoroughly analyzed and organized the articles through creating various categories and sub-categories. Two main themes emerged from evaluating these articles:

Theme 1: Abstinence Remains Prominent

Theme 2: Training and Collaboration are Insufficient

The findings of this study suggest that despite the favorable research and the publics plea to promote more comprehensive sex education programs, the federal government remains to support and promote abstinence-based sex education programs. In addition, the lack of proper training and collaboration across and within disciplines both inside and outside of the school systems further hinders the efficacy of sex education programs.

Major Advisor

Dr. Sandra A. Rigazio-Digilio