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On Taking an Interpretive Risk in Sex Education


by Brian Casemore, Karyn Sandlos & Jen Gilbert — April 13, 2011

Sex education in the United States remains stuck in a conceptual deadlock between discourses of abstinence and the promise of scientific rationality. In both versions, however, sexuality is understood as a risk from which youth must be protected. What remains obscured in this debate are the challenges youth face interpreting emotional experiences of sexuality experiences in excess of the language of biology, psychology, public health, and religion. We argue that sex education must be an opportunity for youth to think through the emotional experience of sexuality and to develop new perspectives on the sexual dilemmas they encounter.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 13, 2011
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16383, Date Accessed: 12/13/2017 11:04:10 PM

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About the Author
  • Brian Casemore
    George Washington University
    BRIAN CASEMORE is an assistant professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the George Washington University. His research focuses on autobiographical curriculum inquiry and psychoanalytic conceptions of educational experience. In his current research, he is investigating the emotional geography of conversations in sex education. Recent publications include “Free Association in Sex Education: Understanding Sexuality as the Flow of Thought in Conversation and Curriculum” in Sex Education: Sexuality, Society, and Learning (2010), and The Autobiographical Demand of Place: Curriculum Inquiry in the American South (Peter Lang, 2008).
  • Karyn Sandlos
    School of the Art Institute of Chicago
    E-mail Author
    KARYN SANDLOS is an Assistant Professor of Art Education and Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program in the Art Education Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Her research focuses on adolescence, sexuality, aesthetic conflict, and film as curriculum. Sandlos is co-investigator on a Ford Foundation Research Grant, "Sex Education in the Age of Abstinence: Conversations Toward a Revitalized Curriculum." The purpose of this research is to understand the emotional meanings that complicate and enliven conversations among youth and educators about sexuality and sexual health. Recent publications include the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy (2008), The Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies (2009), The Journal of Sex Education (2010), and The Journal of Sexuality, Research and Social Policy (2011).
  • Jen Gilbert
    York University
    E-mail Author
    JEN GILBERT is an Associate Professor at York University in Toronto. Her research interests include sex education, LGBTQ youth and psychoanalytic theories of teaching and learning.
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