School & District Management

Millennials Favor Sex Education, Though Few Find It Useful, Survey Finds

By Jacob Bell — March 27, 2015 1 min read
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Though 3-in-4 millennials support sex education in public schools, 23 percent report never receiving any formal instruction and only 10 percent report having sought out sexual health information from a teacher, a new report finds.

Published Friday by the Public Religion Research Institute, the report looks at survey responses about sexual health issues from a sample of more than 2,300 people aged 18 to 35. Survey topics included sex education, contraception, stigmas related to sexuality, and comfort levels in discussing sex.

The report found that while sex education in public schools is widely supported among young adults—75 percent in favor versus 21 percent opposed—about 4-in-10 said this instruction wasn’t useful when they made decisions about sex or relationships.

Furthermore, school instructors were some of the least likely people to whom millennials turned for sexual health information, with only 10 percent of those surveyed saying they consulted a teacher about such issues. In comparison, between 40 and 50 percent of responders said they regularly received sex information from doctors, friends or the Internet.

Nearly one-fourth of people surveyed said they never received sex education in middle or high school. This number increased to 32 percent for people who attended religious high schools. Nearly 90 percent of those who did take sex education found the information they learned at least somewhat accurate.

The report also highlighted that survey responses to certain questions varied greatly depending on race and religion. White, evangelical Protestants, for example, were about 17 percent less likely to support emphasis on birth control over abstinence than all other racial or ethnic groups.

The report’s findings come as some states are looking to regulate sex education and restrict the information collected in those programs on student sex practices and other childhood risk factors.

PRRI researchers conducted surveys for the report between January and February of 2015. The people interviewed were part of KnowledgePanel, a large-scale surveying service run by the market and consumer information organization GfK. Their responses were adjusted to represent the total population of millennials in the United States.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.