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May 5, 2021

MPH Capstone Project Defense: Abigail Bridges


Advisor/Chair:  Dr. Sharon M. Desmond

Committee Members:  Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio

Title: Development of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Curriculum for a Christian Homeschool Group in Columbia, MD

Abstract: Granite Classical Tutorials is a Christian homeschool group (N = 145 students) located in Columbia, Maryland. Currently, Granite does not have a sexual health education curriculum and instead recommends parents look for other resources outside of Granite to meet Maryland’s health education requirement. Historically, Christian groups have advocated for abstinence-based sexual health education which is limited in scope and ineffective in preventing negative health outcomes. Christian students are in need of comprehensive and science-based sex education in order to gain the knowledge and skills needed to protect their health.

To meet this need, I developed a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health curriculum for 7th and 8th grade Granite students which Granite parents can use as a resource to teach sexual health to their children. The curriculum includes three modules on sexual and reproductive health-related topics, including human anatomy and reproduction (sexual and reproductive anatomy, puberty, reproduction and pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity), healthy relationships (family, friends, romantic relationships), and sexual health behaviors (reproductive health, contraception, preventing STIs/HIV, personal skills). The learning material is composed of original content as well as materials from other reputable sources and include multiple modes of instruction to cater to diverse learners. To promote active learning and improve retention, each module ends with 1-2 guided activities, such as a reflection paper, discussion questions, or a fill-in-the-blank graphic. These activities will help to promote reflection and open dialogue and will provide valuable health information within a value framework that is most appropriate to Granite parents and their children.

This curriculum was created after a thorough literature review on sexual education best practices for middle-school students and adolescents from religious communities using search engines and databases including, Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, ScienceDirect, and University of Maryland libraries. Key phrases and search terms included: “sexual education,” “sexual education middle school,” “sexual education best practices,” “sexual education religion,” “sexual health religion,” “sexual health skills,” “parent child communication,” “sexual health curriculum,” and “sexual education homeschool.” Articles were chosen that were relevant to the topic, recently published in peer-reviewed journals (<5 years), and cited by other reputable sources. Throughout the course of developing the curriculum, I was also in close contact with Ms. Aubry Dyakon, the Director of Classical Education at Granite. After writing the literature review, I developed a brief Qualtrics survey asking respondents to categorize a comprehensive list of sexual health topics from “extremely essential”-“extremely unessential.” Ms. Dyakon distributed this survey to the six board members at Granite. The curriculum is also based on the standards set by the Sexuality Information and Education Council’s (SIECUS) sexual health education guidelines and evaluated using the CDC’s Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool.

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