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27-01-2017 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 5/2017 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 5/2017

Comprehensive Sexuality Education as a Longitudinal Predictor of LGBTQ Name-Calling and Perceived Willingness to Intervene in School

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 5/2017
Laura Baams, Judith Semon Dubas, Marcel A. G. van Aken


Comprehensive sexuality education and sexuality education that is inclusive to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth is thought to educate and support youth in their social relations. Despite the obligation for Dutch schools to cover sexuality education in their curricula, including the topic of sexual diversity, the content that is covered varies widely across schools. With the current study, we present an overview of the content of sexuality education as reported by a sample of 601 Dutch adolescents (58.4% female youth) from six different high schools (e.g., public, Roman Catholic, protestant, anthroposophical; grades 10–12). Further, we examine whether the content or extensiveness of sexuality education at the beginning of the school year is related to a decrease in LGBTQ name-calling and an increase in the willingness to intervene when witnessing LGBTQ name-calling at the end of the school year. Adolescents completed three surveys, spaced four months apart. The results show that anatomy, STI prevention, and relationships are covered most often in sexuality education, with less attention to sexual diversity. Our longitudinal findings show that having a wide variety of topics covered in sexuality education—not just sexual diversity—was related to an increase in perceived willingness to intervene when witnessing LGBTQ name-calling by teachers or school staff, fellow students, and youth themselves (female youth). It also predicted a decrease in the occurrence of name-calling according to females. Our findings emphasize the importance of having comprehensive sexuality education in schools; it not only educates and empowers youth but also signals a safer school climate.

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