Progressive Sexuality Education: The Conceits of Secularism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Progressive Sexuality Education

The Conceits of Secularism, 1st Edition

By Mary Lou Rasmussen


196 pages

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This book engages contemporary debates about the notion of secularism outside of the field of education in order to consider how secularism shapes the formation of progressive sexuality education. Focusing on the US, Canada, Ireland, Aotearoa-New Zealand and Australia, this text considers the affinities, prejudices, and attachments of scholars who advocate secular worldviews in the context of sexuality education, and some of the consequences that ensue from these ways of seeing.

This study identifies and interrogates how secularism infuses progressive sexuality education. It asks readers to consider their own investments in particular ways of thinking and researching in the field of sexuality education, and to think about how these investments have developed and how they shape existing discourses within the field of sexuality education. It hones in on how progressive sexuality education has come to develop in the way that it has, and how this relates to conceits of secularism. This book prompts a consideration of how "progressive" scholarship and practice might get in the way of meaningful conversations with students, teachers, and peers who think differently about the field of sexuality education.


"In the US comprehensive sexuality education has been a lightning rod for vigorous debates about the intersections of politics, religion, and public schooling. Rasmussen (education, Monash University, Australia) investigates the roles and functions of secularism in progressive sexuality education in the US, Australia, Aotearoa-New Zealand, Canada, and Ireland. She contends that progressive sexuality education should not eschew religious beliefs and values. Such an omission fosters the binary perspectives of modern and scientific versus traditional and backward, and a consequence of secularism is the neglect of the contexts of culture, kinship, and belief systems that influence the meanings of sexuality among youth. Rasmussen examines the influence of secularism on elements of the sexuality education curriculum, including homophobia, pleasure/desire, and pregnancy decision-making, and she identifies problems of secular freedom. Rasmussen’s advocacy for open inquiry, which thinks about sexuality in relation to religion, may be informative to sexuality educators and scholars."

--P. Lefler, Bluegrass Community & Technical College, CHOICE, November 2016 Vol. 54 No. 3

Table of Contents

Introduction. 2. Faith, progressive sexuality education and queer secularism: Unsettling associations. 3. Sexuality education in public schools in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand. 4. Sex panics, sexuality education, secular explanations. 5. Pleasure/desire, secularism, and sexuality education. 6. On not feeling homophobic. 7. Progressive public pedagogies of pregnancy and choice. 8. Ireland, Canada and Australia: Tracing progressive sexuality education across borders. Conclusion: The conceits of secularism in sexuality education

About the Author

Mary Lou Rasmussen is Associate Professor of Education at Monash University, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Education

This series aims to present the latest research from right across the field of education. It is not confined to any particular area or school of thought and seeks to provide coverage of a broad range of topics, theories and issues from around the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / Health & Sexuality
RELIGION / Education
RELIGION / Sexuality & Gender Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies