LGBTQ+ Parents’ Experiences Discussing Sex and Sexuality with their Children

Participants

Anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+, is over the age of 18, resides in Ontario, and has at least one child between the ages of 3 and 16 (the child may be a biological child, step child, adopted child, etc.)

Purpose

The purpose of this research project is to explore the experiences of LGBTQ+ parents discussing sex and sexuality with their children, and how stereotypes about sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community affect LGBTQ+ parents’ discussions with their children. From the results of the study, the current research project also aims to develop a comprehensive list of LGBTQ+ inclusive resources for parents to use in sexuality education with their children, or for organizations involved in parenting classes to provide to participants.

Background Rationale:
Sexuality and sexual health education have become increasingly discussed topics in Ontario with the introduction of the new Health and Physical Education Curriculum (Ontario Ministry of Training and Education, 2015). This new curriculum was implemented in 2015 and resulted in a lot of backlash from parents in Ontario (Csanady, 2016; Vella, 2018). For example, many parents were concerned that this new curriculum introduced “too much, too soon”, and that parents should be the primary sex educators for children, not schools (Hall & Bateman, 2015; Vella, 2018). Despite the widespread conflict about sexual health education for young people, the research conducted on how parents talk about sexuality, sex, and sexual health with their children has been siloed and primarily focused on mothers and fathers in heterosexual couplings (see summary below, as well as Walker, 2001). Although we have extensive information on positive psychological and social outcomes for children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) parents (e.g., Fedewa, Black, & Ahn, 2015), there is a lack of information on how LGBTQ+ parents speak about sex and sexuality with their children. It is important to understand how LGBTQ+ parents talk to their children about sex and sexuality as LGBTQ+ families may have a unique perspective on these topics are approached. Additionally, sexual health education has been found to have many lifetime benefits for young people (e.g., Brugman, Caron, & Rademakers, 2010; Crosby, Hanson, & Rager, 2009; Kohler, Manhart, & Lafferty, 2008).

Research plan and methods:
The proposed research is a mixed-methods investigation using an online Qualtrics survey of 50-100 LGBTQ+ parents followed by an optional interview. From the larger group of qualitative survey participants, 7-12 individuals will be selected as a sub-sample to participate in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Questions similar to the online qualitative survey will be asked, although they will go in more depth and seek to further explore the experiences of LGBTQ+ parents speaking with their children about sex and sexuality.

How will this research help LGBT people and communities?

There is a lack of research around LGBTQ+ parents discussing sex and sexuality with their children, and understanding the supports and resources these parents need is important. By investigating LGBTQ+ parents' experiences discussing sex and sexuality with their children, policy makers and program developers can ensure that policies and programming is inclusive and targeted to the needs of these diverse families.

Compensation

Participants will be entered into a draw for $25 for participating in the online survey, and will be compensated with a $10 e-transfer for participating in an interview.

What mitigation measures are in place to reduce potential distress caused to participants as a result of being part of the research study?

Participants will be provided with a list of resources after the end of the study, to help them feel more comfortable addressing topics related to sexuality with their children. Additionally, a list of mental health resources for parents will be provided during the consent process. Finally, some discomfort some participants may experience answering questions related to sex and sexuality is mitigated through the use of an online survey, since it provides participants with the freedom to answer what they feel comfortable answering and when they are most comfortable.

When do you anticipate that this study's findings will be available?

2019-08-15

Contact

Name: Riley Easterbrook

Email: reasterb@uoguelph.ca

Website: N/A

Investigator

Tricia van Rhijn

Funded By

SSHRC and OGS

Deadline

2019-02-28

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