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Sexuality Education as a Public Pedagogy

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

Exploring parents different positionalities (e.g. gender orientation and sexual identity, age, ethnicity, class), recollections about their experiences of sexuality education, and their current practices as sexuality educators is a pronounced shift in my research program. Sexuality education is novel to my ongoing research program with which I can make a unique contribution to Canadian scholarship in the area of sexuality education research. I have initiated a new line of research that builds upon over eleven years of research training in the social sciences and would contribute to relatively new tenure track, academic research position in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. I have an established program of research that has focused on translation of ideas about the body, children and youth, teachers and health professionals in educational contexts with peer reviewed publications (n=13) and contributions to edited collections in the areas of fat studies, health education, and social justice education (n=6). With 34 international and national conference presentations, I have established a robust program of research reaching multiple audiences in education, sociology, physical and health education and women’s studies. In particular, my existing research could be categorized as curriculum and pedagogical studies with a concentrated focus on physical and health education curriculum analysis, an examination of teachers, land-based educators, and health professionals pedagogy in relation to curriculum development and translation, and children and youth’s uptake of dominant health and physical activity messaging. The proposed project presents a break in this line of research as it prioritizes the specific and speciality area of education – sexuality education. Collecting empirical data from parents, this project will shift my research program into an area that advances public pedagogies of an highly significant, but under-researched area of society.

Purpose of this research project

Our study focuses on learning from parents about parents’ sexuality education experiences as well as their current practices of sharing knowledge about sexuality with their own children. This study brings together poststructuralist, feminist, and queer theory to explore constructions of parents in relation to sexuality education.

This study employs a qualitative research design to examine the roles and practices of diversely situated parents as sexuality educators. Sexuality education is contested territory. Critical research analyzing the debate of sexuality education asserts that the dialogue framing sexuality education is rooted in Euro-Western notions of citizenship, nationhood, and race. For this reason, discourses about sexuality education are more than constructions of what should be taught, how it should be taught and by whom because what is at stake is the (re)production of a particular Canadian national imaginary. How parents across Canada are positioned within this imaginary demands critical research attention, as they are significant contributors within youth sexuality citizenship and key targets in sexuality education debates. Parents themselves are positioned within this imaginary in particular ways, depending on their own positionalities (i.e. gender orientation and sexuality identity, race, ethnicity, and family structure). Public
pedagogies construct parents roles in sexuality education but we know little about how parents actually participate in the sexuality education of their children. The research that does exist tends to draw from survey measures thus limiting the rich, experiential realities of parents and parenting responsibilities. This study as it contributes empirical data to help shed light on the contested elements of a Canadian imaginary as it invites diversely situated parents into the public dialogue about sexuality education. The study provides timely and valuable information given that sex and sexuality education is part of schooling but also in relation to varied public pedagogies providing diverse accounts of how best to approach the topic. Moreover, much of the sexuality education emerges from other parts of the globe thus surveying the Canadian landscape to learn from diverse parents how they approach sexuality education will be used to mobilize a more open, dialogical, public pedagogy that includes key agents–parents–in sexuality education.

The project involves interviews with parents (n=60) from three urban centres (Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal) to gain insight into how their past and current experiences with sexuality education inform their educative practices with their own children.



How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

Examining the multiplicity of discourses constituting parents in their position as sexuality educators will inform broader societal understandings of parenting and contribute to a much-needed body of research illustrating parents' current roles and actions in sexuality education. In addition, interrelationships between power, knowledge and positionally parents occupy will expand the Canadian imaginary in relation to the subject position of diversely situated parents, such as LGBT2SQ+ parents, from across Canada.


LGBT2SQIA+ or heteronormative parents, guardians, or primary caregivers of children between the ages of 9-18 living in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver.


Participants will receive a 75$ compensation for taking part in an 1-hour interview.

Mitigation measures

The risks are minimal. Participants are informed they can leave the interview at any time, and they do not have to answer any questions that make them feel uncomfortable. A list of mental health services will be provided to participants after the interview.

Promoting the Study

We are promoting the poster through community organizations, provincial sexual education organizations, parenting organizations, and school boards or teacher associations.

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RainbowHealthOntario @RainbowHealthOn Jul 22

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