The Data-driven Case for No Sex Ed in School

By Jeff Gardner Published on June 5, 2023

Lately, stories have been making the rounds featuring angry parents confronting school boards over explicit, sexual material in schools. The material flagged by these parents is often so graphic that school board members refuse to look at it or hear it read aloud.

While we should be concerned about the “worst of the worst” of sexualizing material in our schools, a significant body of data indicates that any sex education in school does more harm than good to our children.

As a prelude to explaining why, let me say that I have been a teacher and a researcher for over 35 years and have studied the educational process my entire professional life. I have taught in elementary, middle and high school, and at university. I have served as a principal of a high school and a co-director of a school district. I have also been married for over 30 years, and fully understand how sexual intimacy is essential for a healthy, happy, and long-term relationship between a man and a woman. In short, there is no educational speculation or prudery at work here.

Absorb, Implement, Experiment

To understand why sex education is not good for our children, we need only look at how the educational process works. From the earliest age, teachers give our children bits of information and encourage them to experiment with that information, combining it to produce (what are for the student) new and exciting experiences.

For example, after memorizing the alphabet, young students are praised when they discover that using the abstract symbols of “A” “B” “C” and “D” they can produce concrete expressions of language like “bad” “cab” “cad” and “dab.” And so it goes, grade after grade that teachers encourage our children to take the information they are given, experiment with it, and discover new uses for it.

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Enter sex education. Note that we are not talking about instruction concerning the physiological processes of the body, such as menstruation, pregnancy or even erections. Information about how our bodies work is essential but should only be given in a sex-segregated setting (girls only and boys only) and with written parental permission.

Rather, any instructions concerning the mechanics of sex should be excluded from schools. Why? Because students will treat such information in exactly the same way that they have been conditioned to treat other bits of information and instruction: absorb it, implement it, and experiment with it. Contrary to the “wisdom” of our hyper-sexualized age, sexual activity and adolescents do not go well together.

Misleading Evidence of “Success”

Proponents of sexual education will often point to the decline in teen pregnancies as evidence of success. True, thanks to the aggressive use of contraceptives like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and subdermal contraceptive implants, pregnancies are down. But what these proponents don’t mention is that as sex education has gone up in U.S. schools, so too has the incidence of sexually transmitted infections or STIs. Some of these diseases, like herpes or human papillomavirus, can have lifelong, or life-threatening consequences.

Despite the dangers of STIs and data that indicate higher rates of depression and suicidal tendencies associated with sexual activity during adolescence, year after year we are told that we need more sex education for our children.

A Look at the Data

Again, why? Does sexual education, especially with explicit sexual images, lead to happier and more stable relationships? The data indicates that it does not. Couples who are in relationships in which one or both partners are not habituated to sexually explicit images (they do not view pornographic material) report satisfaction with their relationships that is 90% higher than those who do view sexually explicit material.

In other words, habituation to sexually graphic material decreases relationship satisfaction and stability.

But what about the argument that sexual knowledge and experience lead to happier, more stable relationships? The data indicates that this also is not true. Couples who had no sexual partners before marriage report a 45% higher rate of relationship stability than those who had any sexual partners before marriage. And as to the old saw that where sex is concerned, variety is the spice of life, the data suggests otherwise: Those in healthy marriages report a higher level of satisfaction concerning their sex life than those who are single.

Perhaps most interesting is the data that indicates a 4% to 6% decrease in marital satisfaction and marital stability for every sexual partner someone has had prior to marriage. That is the greater number of sexual partners prior to marriage, the greater chance of never getting married or divorcing after marriage. The less sexual activity prior to marriage, the higher level of sexual satisfaction within marriage.

The Data Is In. Protect Our Children for Their Future Selves

I am fully aware that for advocates of sexual education and increased sexual activity (for all ages) “marriage” is perhaps the only dirty word. But as parents concerned for our children’s well-being we should care about marriage and marriage stability. Having a child out of wedlock is the greatest risk of poverty for both mother and child, and the benefits of marriage for men, women and the wider society are well-studied and firmly established.

But what are the benefits of more (and more explicit) sex education that the experts tout? A quick glance at how those researchers define “benefits” is telling. Sexual education, beginning at Kindergarten we are told, is positively correlated with an “increase appreciation for sexual diversity and improve environments for LGBTQ students…” Ah, yes, of course. More sexual education leads to more (and more deviant) sex behavior, the benefits of which are… more sexual behavior. Get the picture?

The data is in and it is clear: 50 years of aggressive sex ed in America is doing more harm than good. As radical as it might sound, we must listen to the data and stop sexual education in our schools. Why? Because, like a snake swallowing its tail, the promotion and practice of “more sex ed is good sex ed” is unnatural to our children’s needs and unhealthy for their future selves.


Dr. Jeff Gardner holds an MA in history and a Ph.D. in Communication and Media Studies. For over a decade, he has worked in media, writing and taking photographs for various publications and organizations across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His work has been featured in numerous national and international publications and broadcasts. He teaches courses in media, culture and government at Regent University. You can reach him at

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