Scholarly conversations regarding sexual violence and sexuality education typically emphasise cisgender and heterosexual experiences, leaving sexual and gender minority young people’s voices unheard. This happens despite adolescence being a crucial period for the onset of sexual violence, with sexual and gender minority youth reporting elevated levels of victimisation. Moreover, the preponderance of research focusing on victimisation suggests notable gaps in our understanding of sexual violence perpetration.
This study examined contextual factors shaping sexual violence victimisation and perpetration among sexual and gender minority youth, with school playing a key role. Based on qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with 50 young people aged 14–26 years who self-reported sexual violence perpetration in the Growing Up with Media survey, the analysis demonstrates how schooling’s ‘hidden curriculum’ leaves sexual and gender minority youth ill-equipped to navigate the world of sexuality. Formal sexuality education remains heteronormative and gender-segregated, resulting in incomplete understandings of sexual violence. At the informal level, gendered double standards and peer norms reinforce the second-class sexual citizenship of sexual and gender minority youth.
Our findings suggest that schools may be complicit in sexual violence victimisation and perpetration by sending limited and mixed messages regarding gender and sexuality. Research and policy implications are discussed.
McAuley M, Ybarra M, Saewyc E, Sullivan R, Jackson L, Millar S. (2021). “They talked completely about straight couples only”: How schools contribute to sexual violence among sexual and gender minority youth. Sex Education. DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2021.1924142. Early online June 1, 2021.