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ERIC Number: EJ813348
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 30
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Sex Ed...And the Reds? Reconsidering the Anaheim Battle over Sex Education, 1962-1969
Mehlman, Natalia
History of Education Quarterly, v47 n2 p203-232 May 2007
By December 1968, the Anaheim Family Life and Sex Education (FLSE) program, celebrated since its formal introduction in 1965 as one of the most progressive in the nation, was being smeared as communistic and perverse. Local activists in this Orange County city had been congregating in hotel rooms and homes, screening cautionary films for the public, and barraging the local press and school board with letters establishing a link between FLSE and a communist plot to brainwash Anaheim's schoolchildren. Within a year and a half, this vocal opposition would "water down" FLSE until it was unrecognizable, take over the school board, and force the superintendent to resign. The opposition's success and the vitriol of its attack is particularly surprising because sex education had been taught in Anaheim since the 1940s, when preventing venereal disease was its primary aim. While a smaller controversy flared up in 1963 over a class watching a movie addressing masturbation, none of the opponents in this earlier battle portrayed the threat of sex education as anything more than impropriety; it certainly was not the harbinger of communist revolution that protestors in 1968 saw in FLSE. This essay places the sex education firestorm of 1968-1969 within a decade of social change and a precise local context. Looking both deeper within and more broadly beyond the schoolhouse highlights how local circumstances and national events combined to make the 1962-1963 controversy a heated, but rhetorically controlled, skirmish and the more infamous 1968-1969 battle explosive. The escalation of the Anaheim battle over FLSE offers a revealing local chronicle of this national, polarizing trajectory. It is in the context of the changed world of 1968, when a prosperous sun-drenched city built on family entertainment, staunch anticommunism, and racial homogeneity began to see the effects of a liberalized and sexualized culture on its newsstands, its thoroughfares, and worst of all, in its classrooms, in which one must understand the battle of Anaheim. (Contains 147 footnotes.)
Blackwell Publishing. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8599; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California