Sex education provides critical information that helps young adults form their sexual scripts and the subsequent decision making process regarding their health. However, the stereotypes and stigmas present in the information can negatively impact young adult sexual development and empowerment. Therefore, this study seeks to understand how different types of sex education, both formal, in schools, and informal, from parents, friends, and the media, work together to form young adult knowledge and beliefs about sex and sexuality. The study uses six all women focus group interviews at Alex College to compare and contrast the sexual script development from different educational sources during participants high school years. Analysis of the themes reveals that while school based sex education overall provides the information and beliefs utilized the least by students due to its lack of relevance, all forms of sex education have similar problems leading to a disempowerment of women’s sexual agency. All the sex education sources promote power imbalances based on gender and sexuality along with a narrow, medical perception of sex that does not teach the importance of social and emotional wellbeing in relationships, all of which harm sexual script development. Therefore, this study provides additional evidence supporting sex education reform towards a holistic approach.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson, Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.