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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"It's how to make a baby" : educators and students re/constituting heterosexuality through sexual health Slovin, Larissa J.


Sexual health education, in explicitly linking kids with sexual knowledge, threatens pervasive discourses on the non-sexual child. In order to mediate this conflict, many sexual health programs privilege a scientific approach, attempting to desexualize sexual health by emphasizing the ‘facts’ of puberty and (hetero)sexual reproduction. In this project, I draw on observations from three sexual health workshops in a grade 5/6/7 elementary classroom in Vancouver, BC and two rounds of interviews with six boys who attended those workshops. I examine the story the educators constructed in order to teach sexual health, highlighting their reliance on both a ‘gay is okay’ and a scientific discourse. I argue that by locating their discussion of homosexuality within a values framework and so actively striving to depict it as acceptable, the educators constituted homosexuality as a social identity that requires acceptance. Likewise, by subsuming references to heterosexuality within their lesson on (hetero)sexual reproduction, the educators framed it as an always already accepted scientific fact. I then employ a poststructuralist discourse analysis to explore the ways the boys both took up and deviated from these discourses when constructing their own stories of sexual health.

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