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Sexuality education is the curricular area that addresses human sexual development, identity, and orientation as well as sexual behavior across the life span. Historically, public school systems began offering sexuality education classes in the early 20th century, in Chicago. However, these early classes were generally limited to issues of personal health and what was called, at that time, “social hygiene.” Explicit sexuality education did not become commonplace in the public school curriculum until the 1970s, even though many comparable programs were housed under the more neutral sounding titles of “health education” or “family life education.”

By the late 1970s, a growing resistance mobilized against such programs. In addition to harboring hostility toward the civil rights movement and other social liberation movements, opponents focused on public school ...

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