The Department of Psychology’s Dr. Shereen Naser and Dr. Elizabeth Goncy, along with their Cleveland State University colleagues Dr. Clonan-Roy (curriculum and foundations) and Dr. Fuller (social work), and clinical psychology student, Nicole Wolf, are set to publish a manuscript, titled Exploring the Experiences and Responses of LGBTQ+ Adolescents to School-Based Sexuality Education, in the journal Psychology in the Schools. This article will appear in a special issue entitled Changing the narrative: Gender diversity, sexual orientation and intersectionality in schools.
The study documents the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, two spirit and queer (LGBTQ+) youth with school-based sexuality education (SBSE). The team conducted focus groups with 17 adolescents ages 14-18 who indicated that 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.
Drs. Naser, Goncy, Clonan-Roy, and Fuller are all members of the THRiVE Research Collaborative, which is an interdisciplinary team of researchers and students at Cleveland State University dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ youth by better understanding how the systems around LGBTQ+ youth impact their access to useful health information.