Presentation Title

Adolescents’ Perspectives of Facilitators and Barriers to Receiving Comprehensive Sexual Education in Georgia Schools

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Abstract or Description

Presented at the American Public Health Association

Introduction: Comprehensive sexual health education can reduce the likelihood of adolescent pregnancy and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Georgia’s Board of Education requires sexuality education in middle and high schools, however, guidelines require curricula to emphasize abstinence until marriage and fidelity in marriage. Variability exists among Georgia school districts’ choice to implement comprehensive (including contraceptive education) or abstinence-centered sexual health education. Limited studies have used qualitative research methods to ascertain adolescent perspectives on receiving comprehensive sexual health education. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study was to ascertain adolescents’ perspectives on facilitators and barriers to receiving comprehensive sexual health education in Georgia schools. Methods: Four focus groups were conducted comprising seventeen adolescent participants between the ages of 14 - 18 years. Grounded Theory was operationalized to identify themes from focus group transcriptions and MAXQDA 12 was used to code transcriptions. Results: Sexual health curricula and resources, parents, school districts, religiosity, teachers, and student peers were reported as the barriers to receiving comprehensive sexual health education in their schools. Salient perceived facilitators to comprehensive sexual health education were teachers, trusted school personnel, parent advocates, and community engagement. Discussion: The results of this study reflect students’ discontent with their current sexual health education curricula. Although not generalizable, the results of this study can be used to advocate for a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum that meets the needs of students at the local county level.


American Public Health Association


San Diego, CA