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Thus, the issue of gender bias in sex education has been implied and touched upon by scholars and the public alike. Some studies, theories, and popular viewpoints seem to suggest that comprehensive sex education is biased toward women because it portrays birth control as a woman's issue, placing the burden to practice safe sex on her alone. Others claim that this is not the case, and that men are concerned about birth control and are campaigning for more birth control options. Similarly, some suggest imply that the abstinence-only programs taught in schools portray men as aggressors who only want sex, while females are portrayed as innocents who need to learn to say no, putting the burden on men to be less aggressive and sexually engaged, while others argue that this portrayal of men is unfair.
Although it is scant, research data collaborates the thesis that sex education is gender biased. The Urban Institute's published study regarding teenage boys and sex education found that 98% of teenage boys receive "formal education about sex or HIV," while 70% of those boys received the education before loosing their virginity. Data from this study suggested that boys were less likely to report receiving sex education before loosing their virginity than girls; boys were more likely to receive sex education at a younger age than girls; and boys receive less education about topics such as birth control (Brown and Shukla 2000). Further, Duberstein et al.'s (2006) study regarding education about birth control methods vs. abstinence-only education found that, while the number of both males and females formally educated about birth control declined, a higher percentage of females were consistently educated about birth control methods. Evidence also suggests that this type of female-oriented birth control education does not occur in all countries. In fact, in a pioneer program in China, Want et al. found that condom use increased over contraceptive use after comprehensive education, suggesting that males were taught be responsible when it comes to birth control instead of simply abstinence-only education. However, the same does not appear to be true in this state, as Duberstein et al. (2006) found that an increase in abstinence-only education among just males occurred between 1995 and 2002.
In addition to these variables, however, research has continued to provide related correlations that may lead to gender bias. For example, Landry et al. (2003) found that the instructor's method of teaching about sex education was very influential in how the education was perceived. This suggests that a teacher might be able to pass his or her gender bias regarding sex education and responsibility to his or her student. As Jones and Dindia (2004) suggest. these biases exist. In fact, these researchers proved that teachers' initiate more negative interactions with male students, a factor that could become highly important in sex education (Jones and Dindia 2004).
Since its foundation, sex education has been inherently gender-based, but does that gender base constitute a gender bias? Both popular attitudes and scholarly work seem to imply that this could be the case. Birth control, and sex education involving birth control, is most often targeted at the female. On the other hand, media and stereotypical images of the sex crazed teenage boy seem to suggest that abstinence-only education targets this audience. While the data to support these claims is there, it's weak, and proves more that a gender bias is possible than that one exists definitively. While studies do show that boys receive less comprehensive, birth control oriented sex education than girls, as well as more abstinence-only education than their female counterparts, these studies do not include the type of data to suggest that this trend is comprehensive or that it is ongoing. What other data does suggest, however, is that any gender biases in sex education might not arise from an inherent problem in the way students are educated, but instead from external factors. Studies involving the success of male contraceptives in China suggest that the problem may be cultural. In the same vein, studies suggesting that sex education is highly dependent on teachers' views, and other work arguing that teachers have negative attitudes towards boys, allows sex educators to consider whether or not biases in comprehensive sex education and abstinence-only sex education come from our environments. In conclusion, the topic is in great need of further study. A meta-analysis of chronological studies involving both male and female sample groups must be conducted in order to determine the truth of gender bias over time. In addition, qualitative and quantitative analysis of educational programs, instructors, and locations must be done in order to determine whether or not external factors contribute or cause these gender biases, if they do exist.
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