Encountering sex education and imagining positive sex: A discursive exploration of young people's accounts

Stephanie Margaret Murphy
This study sought to explore how young people constructed their experience of sex and relationship education in the school setting, and their expectations of sexual relations. A Foucauldian-informed discourse analytic approach was adopted to examine how discourses of sex and sexuality as deployed by young people are informed by material and social structures, social relations and institutionalised practices, particularly sex education as delivered in schools, and how this impacted on possible
more » ... ays of being' open to young people. Of particular interest was how gender and power were implicated in the way young people constitute their sexual subjectivities, knowledge and practices. A functional and transformative discourse related to sex was most dominant in the young peoples' talk, with young people constructed as enterprising subjects able to 'use' sex to achieve social success. Young people talked their sexual subjectivities into being within a social sphere that constructed sex as having real implications for their lived experience, but which was divorced from their embodied experience. The findings of the research are discussed in relation to implications for clinical practice and future research. One of the most pertinent implications is the call by young people for a more complex understanding of their sexual and gender identity. Exploration of the wider issues pertaining to, along with the implications of, a range of sexual behaviours must be articulated and reflected upon in sex education lessons. Acknowledging the social, psychological, and emotional complexities of sexuality and sexual experience, as well as the physical, will enable young people to embody sexual subjectivities that genuinely reflect their complex lived experience, and provide space to recognise their strengths and resources in navigating sexual experience.
doi:10.15123/pub.3051 fatcat:tx2cn6xglbfblaq3rt3wjwf2om