School-based Sexuality Education Experiences across Three Generations of Sexual Minority People

Meg D. Bishop, Allen B. Mallory, McKenna Gessner, David M. Frost, Stephen T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sexual minority people face greater risk for compromised sexual health than their heterosexual peers, yet school-based sexuality education often excludes them. Little is known about whether or how sexual minority people’s sexuality education experiences have varied across sociohistorical contexts of rapid social change in both sexuality education and sexual minority visibility. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted among 191 sexual minority people from three distinct sociohistorical generations (ages 18–25, 34–41, and 52–59, respectively) and four geographic regions of the United States. Data were analyzed using thematic content analysis following a consensual qualitative protocol. Fifty-one participants (i.e., 27%) discussed school-based sexuality education experiences despite the lack of an explicit question in the interview protocol prompting them to do so. Four distinct yet overlapping themes emerged in participants’ experiences of sexuality education: 1) Silence; 2) The profound influence of HIV/AIDS; 3) Stigma manifest through fear, shame, and prejudice; and, 4) Comparing school-based experiences to sexuality education outside of school. The presence of themes varied across groups defined by sociohistorical generation. The implications of sexuality education experiences for the wellbeing of sexual minority people are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-658
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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