Let’s talk about sex: A glimpse into Nova Scotia youths’ perceptions of high school sexuality education

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Brushett, Chantal
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Teen sexuality is a topic of great importance because youth are becoming sexually active at ages that belie their teen years and are experiencing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at high rates. Not only does this warrant attention, but it also necessitate research and education. Sexuality education is essential for providing sexual health to all Canadians, especially Canadian youth. Yet, even though all provinces and territories offer youth-based sexual health education, the comprehensiveness, effectiveness, and quality of the programs vary significantly. Further, the Canadian Guidelines for Sexual Health Education are not being adhered to in all Nova Scotiaâ s high schools. The main objective of this research was to investigate the perceptions of a select group of Nova Scotian youth with regard to sexuality education. Bearing in mind aspects of critical theory, particularly Comstockâ s (1982) method for critical research and Smithâ s (1995) notion of the line of fault, face-to-face interviews were conducted with ten Nova Scotian youth (eight females, two males) to determine their perceptions of the effectiveness of sexuality education in the Nova Scotia school system. All interviews were tape-recorded and later transcribed. Interviews were analyzed using grounded theory techniques (Bernard, 2000), relying primarily on open and axial coding. Results indicated that participants were not satisfied with the sexuality education that they received in high school. Four themes were apparent. Interviewees felts that the iii sexuality information that they received in high school was limited in its coverage. Although most participants realized that teachers have little control over sexuality education curriculum, they felt that their sexuality education facilitators were unqualified and uncomfortable. All youth interviewed expressed a desire to have additional and improved sexuality education resources in Nova Scotiaâ s high schools. In addition, it was clear from the interviews that a holistic view of sexual health is not being promoted in Nova Scotia high schools. Several recommendations for sexuality education practice are provided.
Education , High school , Public opinion , Attitudes , Teenagers , Sexual hygiene , Sex instruction , Nova Scotia , Youth