Exploring the Experiences and Responses of LGBTQ+ Adolescents to School-Based Sexuality Education

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Psychology in Schools


The purpose of this study is to describe the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, two spirit, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth with school-based sexuality education (SBSE), as well as to document strategies LGBTQ+ youth are using to address their evolving and specific sexual health needs outside of SBSE. Researchers conducted focus groups with 17 adolescents (ages 14–18) from urban and suburban Midwestern cities. Results of this study indicate LGBTQ+ youth find SBSE to be heteronormative, cisgender focused, and primarily focused on pregnancy and disease prevention, which contributes to LGBTQ+ youth experiences of exclusion. In response to SBSE that did not meet student needs, participants reported seeking sexual health information outside of SBSE. Other sources included family and other trusted adults, the Internet, and community resource centers. Students reported variable rates of use and trustworthiness across these resources. Results of this study suggest that school personnel should consider alternatives to traditional SBSE models to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ youth, and that an important part of SBSE should include guidelines for Internet safety.

Original Citation

Naser SC, Clonan-Roy K, Fuller KA, Goncy EA, Wolf N. Exploring the experiences and responses of LGBTQ+ adolescents to school-based sexuality education. Psychol Schs. 2022; 59: 34–50. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.22471