A comprehensive history of the battle over sex education in the United States
Mid-century America had a problem talking about sex. Dr. Mary Calderone first diagnosed this condition and, in 1964, led the uphill battle to de-stigmatize sex education. Supporters hailed her as the "grandmother of modern sex education" while her detractors painted her as an "aging libertine," but both could agree that she was quickly shaping the way sex was discussed in the classroom.
Part biography, part social history, The Transformation of American Sex Education for the first time situates Dr. Mary Calderone at the center of decades of political, cultural, and religious conflict in the fight for comprehensive sex education. Ellen S. More examines Americans' attempts to come to terms with the vexed subject of sex education in schools from the late 1940s to the early twenty-first century. Using Mary Calderone's life and career as a touchstone, she traces the origins of modern sex education in the United States from the work of a group of reformers who coalesced around Calderone to create the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) in 1964, to the development and use of the competing approaches known as "abstinence-based" and "comprehensive" sex education from the 1980s into the twenty-first century.
A fascinating and timely read, The Transformation of American Sex Education provides a substantial contribution to the history of one of America's most intense and protracted culture wars, and the first account of the woman who fought those battles.
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Ellen S. More is a historian of the American medical profession. She is Professor Emeritus (Psychiatry) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995 and co-editor of Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine.
Medical historian More anchors this evenhanded portrait of physician Mary Calderone in a broader discussion of the history of sex education in the U.S. [...] An accessible introduction to a pioneering public health advocate. * Publishers Weekly * We have needed a book that situates Mary Calderone and SIECUS into the history of sex education and the culture wars of the twentieth century. Who better than Ellen S. More, thorough historian and engaging writer, to fill this important gap? More is masterful at linking contraception, family planning, doctors' views, and sexual education together, while cogently illustrating the cultural fights that surround sex education. No one else has done this. A must read. -- Susan Reverby, Marion Butler McLean Professor Emerita in the History of Ideas, Wellesley College An admirable and compelling examination of Mary Calderone's legacy as she fought to transform one of the most fraught subjects within the culture wars- sexual education. This book will be an invaluable resource in understanding the history of sex education, from its conception to the present-day competing strategies known as 'abstinence-based' and 'comprehensive. -- Jonathan Zimmerman, Judy and Howard Berkowitz Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania Kudos to Ellen S. More for her phenomenal history of sex education in the United States. Dr. More has rightfully centered Mary Calderone, the founder of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), and has taken a broad and deep dive into the leaders and dynamics that have led the issue of sex education to be a case study for the broader culture wars. Dr. More's ability to combine history with outstanding storytelling make this a truly pleasurable read. -- Leslie M. Kantor, Rutgers School of Public Health Exhaustively researched and engagingly written, The Transformation of American Sex Education adds new chapters to our broader history of sexualities. Ellen More tells the long-overdue stories of Mary Calderone and other pioneering sex educators with depth and nuance. -- Janice Irvine, University of Massachusetts
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