Virtual Library Research Hub detail page

Back to search results

Foulkes, Risha. “Abstinence-Only Education and Minority Teenagers: The Importance of Race in a Question of Constitutionality.” Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 10 (2008): 3–51.


In this article, Risha Foulkes uses the experience of teenagers of color to illustrate how abstinence-only sex education may be unconstitutional. In doing so, she lays out the history and structure of funding for federal abstinence-only education, and the disproportionate impact abstinence-only funding can have on communities color. She situates the funding in the context of current health disparities between white teenagers and teenagers of color. Foulkes then examines possible constitutional grounds to strike down abstinence-only education as unconstitutional, including free speech, separation of church and state, and equal protection (particularly with respect to LGBTQ teens). She discusses different effects of abstinence-only education in communities of color to illustrate the harm needed to prevail. This article has a heavily law-focused orientation, but Foulkes explains legal requirements clearly, with concrete examples. She also uses a public health framework in discussing the realities of students of color, which can be slightly off-putting for readers coming from a reproductive justice lens. This article is useful for lawyers looking for creative ways to challenge abstinence-only funding, as well as anyone interested in an overview of the structure of abstinence-only funding currently in place.


Download file

About the Author

Related Topics

Youth   Sex education   Health disparities