William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


Throughout the United States, schools are failing to provide students with comprehensive sex education that equips student with the life skills necessary for healthy relationships. This shortcoming has numerous psychological, emotional, and physical health consequences for the American youth. This Note will focus on how abstinence-centric curricula can influence sexual and teen dating violence. Presently, only one state requires instruction on consent, leaving most students to first encounter consent education or anti-harassment training in higher education institutions or the workplace. In light of the high rates of violence many young people experience before turning eighteen, this instruction often comes too little, too late. Moreover, abstinence-centric education reinforces feelings of shame and fear that are common among victims of violence. This shaming disproportionately impacts female students who face higher rate of assault compared to their male counterparts. This Note will argue that abstinence-centric education therefore violates Title IX under a disparate impact theory; and, as such, the federal government should condition funding for health programs on comprehensive sex education that includes consent instruction.