Moral panics about youth sexuality have heavily influenced the construction and curriculum of sexual health education, as the long and complicated history of sex ed in United States schools continues to plague political campaigns, school boards, parents, and health advo- cates (Irvine 2004; Moran 2002; Di Mauro and Joffe 2009). Since the early responses to the moral panics about venereal diseases that began in the early twentieth century, there has been a significant narrowing of the opportunities for young people to receive any type of compre- hensive sexual education. Truly, sex education has been shrouded in debate that is characterized by panic, fueled by misinformation, and cloaked in the language of morality. This chapter explores a brief his- tory of sex education in the United States, focusing specifically on the rise of Abstinence-Only Sexual Education (AOSE) as a moral panic about youth sexuality, followed by an analysis of media representations about adolescent sexual experiences presented in the popular television show Glee. This chapter examines the discontinuity between the formal curriculum young people receive through AOSE programs and the informal education they receive from popular culture references, linking those sites as relevant to the politics of how moral panics are both created and sustained. Using Glee, this chapter shows how moral panics about youth sexuality are still heavily problematic in American culture and demonstrates how popular television has the ability to both challenge and duplicate dangerous stereotypes about young people and sex.
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- Scary Sex: The Moral Discourse of Glee
- Palgrave Macmillan UK