Effect of comprehensive sex education in the United States
Abortion, Contraception
Awarded 2020
Emerging Scholars in Family Planning
Priscilla Lopez, MPH
CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

To help establish sexual and reproductive health (SRH) equity through early, consistent, and comprehensive sex education across all communities in the United States (US) is the long-term goal Priscilla has been working towards with each educational and professional experience. Sex education has typically rarely covered topics like LGBTQ healthcare, abortion, provider bias, among others. As a first-generation college graduate, Latina, and child of immigrants, Priscilla is passionate about establishing SRH health equity through K-12 sex education, as it is such an early social determinant of health. She has previously worked as a research intern at Planned Parenthood while completing an MPH in epidemiology at Columbia University. Starting September 2020, Priscilla will be entering her final year in CUNY’s doctoral program in epidemiology. The proposed project aims to conduct: 1) a systematic review to characterize distinct US school-based sex education (including the extent to which contraception and abortion are covered), 2) a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of US school-based sex education interventions, and 3) an interrupted time series to evaluate the effect of the implementation of the 2016 California Healthy Youth Act, measuring sexual health outcomes as a consequence of the state-wide mandate for comprehensive sexual health education in California public schools. All three aims of the proposed project will inform our understanding of the role of sex education in reducing reproductive health disparities, at a significant moment at which the role of structural racism and classism have been identified as key drivers in health inequities.