Controversial Conversations in Science: Incorporating the Science “Sex Box”

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American Journal of Sexuality Education


Science classrooms—and science textbooks—are proving to be challenging spaces for education that contradicts abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) sex education. However, science educators can teach against this knowledge in a way that is critical of oppressive language. In fact, having explicit dialogue about gender identities and sexual orientation can help uncover oppressive cultural attitudes and help science educators challenge universal views of the human body. This article examines two narratives that use a pedagogic practice to help them teach in AOUM environments. The first narrative discusses personal experiences of the author as a science teacher and the dilemmas faced by including what I call a “sex box” in a life science class. The second narrative discusses an excerpt from a research study conducted with life science teachers in which a participant uses this same method. The purpose of this discussion is to help expose the science classroom as a place to have meaningful discussions, even with policies and cultures that do not support the discussion of safe sex for minority human sexualities.1 This article suggests future science teachers and present teachers alike can advocate for the incorporation of national standards that counteract overtly discriminatory policies.

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