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Motivational Aspects of Community Support for School-Based Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Norman A. Constantine, Jana Kay Slater, Julie Carroll


Various surveys have documented widespread support among American parents, students, teachers, and health professionals for school-based comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). In many school districts, however, the sexuality education provided is minimal, incomplete, or fragmented, and essential topics are often omitted or inaccurately presented. To help explain the discrepancy between support and accomplishment, this study develops a set of theory-based research hypotheses regarding the potential motivational roles of stakeholders' goals, emotions, and personal agency belief patterns in explaining this lack of achievement. A series of exploratory interviews and focus groups with 36 California parents, adolescents, and professionals was conducted. A modified grounded-theory approach was used to guide the collection and analysis of qualitative data, and the development of a theoretical framework anchored in Martin Ford's motivational systems theory. This framework suggests the complexity of the interacting factors involved, and provides a basis for specific hypotheses for further research. Potentially important goals, emotions, and personal agency belief patterns are identified and discussed.

In press, Sex Education, also presented as a poster at the 131st Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, November , 2003, San Francisco, CA. This study was supported in part by a grant from the California Wellness Foundation (TCWF).

APHA 2003 poster (ppt file)

Manuscript request