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Steven Hobaica’s Three Minute Thesis

Sexual Minorities in Heteronormative Sex Education

The efficacy of modern sex education has been questioned, as students participate in high rates of unsafe sex after completion. Without exploring various sexual minority (SM, e.g., gay, lesbian, and bisexual) identities and forms of sex, sex education may be especially unhelpful for SMs by perpetuating the heteronormative (i.e., assuming everyone is heterosexual) environment they typically experience. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with SMs regarding their experiences in sex education using a grounded theory approach. Participants described their sex education as being heteronormative and exclusive of their identities, making them feel invisible in curricula, sexually unprepared, and shameful. Sex education also reportedly contributed to sexual hesitance with members of the same sex, experiences of sexual violence, and risky sexual behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex, hookups, etc.). Participants endorsed histories of depression, anxiety, and suicidality, often associated with their identity and general exclusion. To become more informed and sexually prepared, they sought information through conversations with others, online searching, college courses, and trial and error sexual experiences. Participants also advocated for inclusive sex education, which would incorporate all sexual identities and associated safe sex practices. They concluded that inclusivity in curricula could lead to various improved outcomes for SMs, such as safer sex, a sense of community, identity confidence, healthy relationships, and general resilience.

Steven Hobaica