Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Erler, H. Abbie


In the last decade, federally-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have become an increasing feature of public high school sex education classes. This thesis examines how these programs construct a discourse about normative understandings of deserving and undeserving citizens. Through a content analysis of four such programs, I find that abstinence only programs, through their lessons about poverty, family structure, and sexuality construct the deserving citizen as a middle-class person who participates in the patriarchal family and reserves sexual activity for marriage. I argue that these programs are ultimately harmful to students because they construct a narrow definition of the ideal citizen at the expense of the people who do not fit into this mold. This education, which is a reflection of our broader societal attitudes, teaches students how to recognize and become the deserving citizen and avoid deviance.


Includes bibliographical references: pages 137-143

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