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Prince A. Morrow announced that a volume dealing with many of the timely topics of sex-education was to be prepared by the undersigned with the advice and criticism of a committee of the American Federation for Sex-Hygiene; but even before Dr. Morrow's death it became evident that this plan was impracticable. Since that time the writer, working independently, has found it desirable to reorganize completely the original outline announced by Dr.

Morrow, the author considers himself pledged to devote all royalties from this book to the movement for sex-education. Among the many persons to whom is due acknowledgment of helpfulness in the preparation of this book, the author is especially indebted for suggestions to the late Dr. Morrow, to Dr. William F. Edward L. Keyes, Jr. Stackpole, of Teachers College, who have read carefully both the original lectures and the completed manuscript; and to Olive Crosby Whitin Mrs.

Frederick H. Whitin , executive secretary of the Society of Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis, who has suggested and criticized helpfully both as a reader of the manuscript and as an auditor of many of the lectures delivered at Teachers College. Teachers College , Columbia University , December 28, Sex-education in its largest sense includes all scientific, ethical, social, and religious instruction and influence which directly and indirectly may help young people prepare to solve for themselves the problems of sex that inevitably come in some form into the life of every normal human individual.

Note the carefully guarded phrase "help young people prepare to solve for themselves the problems of sex", for, like education in general, special sex-education cannot possibly do more than help the individual prepare to face the problems of life. Now, sex-education as thus defined is more extensive than sex-hygiene, which term was originally applied to instruction concerning sex.

Sex-hygiene obviously refers to health as influenced by sexual processes, and as such it is a convenient subdivision of the science of health. It would be quite satisfactory as a name for popular instruction concerning sex if that were strictly, or [2] even primarily, hygienic; but in a later lecture it will be shown that the most desirable sex-instruction is only in a minor part a problem of hygiene.

I realize that this statement may be declared heretical by many of the present-day advocates of sex-hygiene, because they have approached this latest educational movement from the standpoint of physical health, and especially because their attention has been drawn to the very common occurrence of pathological conditions. Nevertheless, the sexual problems of our times do not all affect physical health, which hygiene aims to conserve; and the sex-educational movement will be quite inadequate without great stress upon certain ethical, social, and other aspects of sex.

Young people need instruction that relates not only to health but also to attitude and to morals as these three are influenced by sexual instincts and relationships. This idea will be developed later, but I anticipate here simply to suggest the point of view of the statement that "sex-hygiene" is altogether too limited as a general designation for the desirable instruction concerning sex. The continued use of the term "sex-hygiene," now that the scope of the desirable sex-instruction has been extended far beyond the accepted limits of the science of health, is tending to cause confusion.

The educational problems will be more definite and the support of the intelligent public more assured if we limit the use of "sex-hygiene" to the specific problems of health as affected by sexual processes and cease trying to make it include those [3] phases of sex-instruction which have nothing directly to do with health. Two general terms, "sex-instruction" and "sex-education," are available as all-inclusive designations of the desirable instruction concerning any aspects of sex.

They are quite free from the above objections to "sex-hygiene," and it is highly desirable that they should be used in all educational discussions where there is no specific reference to the problems of health. Sex-hygiene will be used in these lectures only when there is some direct reference to health as influenced by the sexual functions. Social hygiene in its complete sense means the great general movement for the improvement of the conditions of life in all lines in which there is social ill health or need of social reform; but it is often limited to the sexual aspect of the unfortunate and unfavorable conditions of life, and it has been proposed to adopt the term "social hygiene" as a substitute that avoids the word "sex" in sex-hygiene.

For this reason it has been incorporated into the names of several societies that are interested in sex-hygiene e. Probably the relation of sex-hygiene to the so-called "social evil" has suggested the use of social hygiene in its most limited sense. It will be unfortunate if this usage becomes so prominent that we think of the health problems of society as chiefly sexual, for the larger outlook of Ellis's "Task of Social Hygiene" [4] is desirable.

Likewise, the phrase "social evil" in the sense of sexual evil misleadingly suggests that the only evil of society is the sexual one, but this evasive designation is being supplanted by the more definite and franker word "prostitution. It should be noted that "social hygiene" as a substitute for "sex-hygiene" is narrower in that it does not include the personal problems of health as affected by sexual processes. This is a serious omission, for certainly all sex-hygiene taught before the later adolescent years should be personal and not social.

The relation of sex-hygiene or social hygiene as a limited phase of sex-education is shown by the following outline:. This is no longer so in human life; for while reproduction is a sexual process, sexual activities and influences are often quite unrelated to reproduction. In fact, most of the big problems that have made sex-education desirable, if not necessary, are problems of sex apart from reproduction.

It therefore seems clear that, while studies of reproduction are prominent in sex-education, they should be regarded as introductory to the problems of sex, especially for young people. Some educators have expressed the wish that some one might suggest a satisfactory substitute for the terms "sex-hygiene" and "sex-education," omitting the word "sex.

It seems to me that in one decade there has been a great advance in that the scientific writers and speakers on problems of sex have been using words which definitely and directly express the desired meanings, and have avoided the suggestive circumlocutions which characterize many modern realistic novels. One who does not already appreciate the serious impressiveness of cold scientific language in discussion of sexual problems should take one of the indecently suggestive paragraphs from stories in the most notoriously vulgar of the fifteen-cent magazines, and translate the meaning of the paragraph into direct and definite words.

Sex education A series of lectures concerning knowledge of sex in its relation to human life

The result will be complete loss of the stealthy suggestiveness which has made concealed sexuality so dangerously attractive to the type of mind that revels in the modern sex-problem novels. We want no such suggestive concealment in a scheme of sex-education, for it aims at a purer and higher understanding of sex in human life. We must have direct and definite and dignified scientific language, and among the necessary words none are as essential as "sex" and "sexual.

Thus viewing the objections which have been raised against the use of the word "sex" in the educational movement, I have shifted my first stand with the opposition until now I favor the frank and dignified use of this and similar words on appropriate occasions. I believe that those interested in the search for solutions of the vital problems of sex should quietly but systematically work to include the words "sex" and "sexual" in the dignified and scientific vocabulary needed by all people to express the newer and nobler interpretations of the relationships between men and women.

Of course, this does not mean that sex, either as a word or as a fact of nature, should be over-emphasized with people who are too young to appreciate the fundamental facts of life. As already suggested, it is not desirable that any parts of the curricula for schools should be known to the pupils as "sex" studies; but we need such terms as "sex-hygiene" and "sex-instruction" to indicate to teachers and parents that certain parts of the education of the children are being directed towards a healthy, natural and wholesome relation to sex.

There is much more reason for fearing the free use of the word "love," which has both psychical and physical meanings so confused that often only the context of sentences enables one to determine which meaning is intended. In fact, many writers and speakers seek to avoid all possible misunderstanding by using the word "affection" for psychical love.

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Now, in spite of such confusion, and the fact that to many people the word "love" in connection with sex suggests only gross sensuality, we continue to use it freely and it is one of the first words taught to children. Why then do we not hear protests against using the word "love"?

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Simply because we have been from childhood accustomed to the word, first in its psychical sense, and it is only later that most of us have learned that it has a sensual meaning to some people. In short, familiarity with the word "love" in its psychical sense has bred in us a contempt for those who mistake the physical basis of love for love in its combined physical and psychical completeness.

To many it is surprising to find that the word "sex" has never been used in such degraded connections as has the word "love," and that it has not been half so much misunderstood. There is no obvious vulgarity in the lexicographer's definitions of the word "sex. Why nature determined that each new life in the vast majority of species should develop from two other lives has long been a biological puzzle, and most satisfactory of the answers given is that bi-parental origin of new individuals allows for new combinations of heritable qualities from two lines of descent.

Moreover, the influence of sex in human life has extended far beyond the family that is, that group of individuals who stand related to one another as husband, wife, parents, and children , for it is a careless observer indeed who does not note in our daily life many social and psychical relationships of men and women who have no mutual interests relating to the biological processes of race perpetuation. Of course, the psychologist recognizes that far back of the platonic contact of the sexes on social and intellectual lines is the suppressed and primal instinct that provides physical unions for race perpetuation.

However, [10] this is of no practical interest, for, as a matter of fact, the primal instincts are quite subconscious in the usual social relations between the sexes. Instead, then, of trying to keep sex, both word and fact, in the background of the new educational movement, I believe it is best to work definitely for a better understanding of the part which sex plays in human life, as outlined in the preceding paragraph. Hence, in these lectures I shall never go aside in order to avoid either the word or the idea of sex; on the contrary, I shall attempt to direct the discussion so as to emphasize the larger and very modern view of the relationship of sex and human life.

I am especially anxious to avoid the narrow viewpoint of numerous writers on sex-hygiene who seem to overlook the fact that sexual functioning is only a prominent incident in the cycle of sexual influences in the lives of most people.


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Human life, and especially marriage, should no longer be regarded from the mere biological point of view as for the sole purpose of reproductive activity. It is a far more uplifting view that the conscious or unconscious existence of the sexual instincts, with or without occasional activity, affords the fundamental physical basis for states of mind that may profoundly affect the whole course of life in every normal man and woman.

Sex-Education: a Series of Lectures Concerning Knowledge of Sex in Its Relation to Human Life

The time-honored policy has been one of silence and mystery concerning all things sexual. Everything in that line has long been considered impure and degraded and, therefore, the less said and the less known, the better, especially for young people. Such has been the almost universal attitude of parents until within the present century, when many [12] have awakened to the fact that the policy of silence has been a gigantic failure, because it has not preserved purity and innocence and because it has allowed grave evils, both hygienic and moral, to develop under the cloak of secrecy.

I prefer to keep them innocent until they have grown up. Poor deluded mother!


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How does she expect to keep her children ignorant of the world of life around them?