Dissertation Title:

“It’s Not Comprehensive If It’s Not Intersectional”: Pedagogies for Liberatory Sexuality and Relationship Education


Mari Larangeira

Date, Time & Place:

March 14, 2023 at 10:00 am


Conversations connected to pleasure, consent, safety, access to clean water, land, and quality medical-care are all subjects inherently connected to bodily autonomy and sexuality, making the comprehensive sex-ed classroom a powerful space for liberatory learning. This critical qualitative study conducted with experienced intersectional comprehensive sexuality and relationship education (ICSRE) providers attempts to understand their perceptions of a) the liberatory potentials of ICSRE; b) best practices; and, c) current obstacles to increasing student access to ICSRE nationally. The research questions were: 1) How can sex-ed serve as a site for liberatory engagement?; 2) What are the best practices and current challenges to doing this? Data was collected from interviews with 13 participants and a focus group. It was analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis within a framework of intersectionality. The study found that there is a need to shift the focus of sexuality-education funding and program building from prevention-based incentivization to community-based, reparative learning. The findings indicate that sex-ed delivered without intersectional content serves to reinforce ideologies of hetero, male, white, and able-bodied supremacy. Conversely, sex-ed provided by well-trained community-based ICSRE educators is uniquely positioned to serve as a site for critical consciousness raising that supports youth in resisting ideologies of supremacy. This research argues that for sex-ed to be meaningful, it must be culturally relevant, intersectional, and student-led. This has implications for sex-ed as a profession and the organizations that provide it.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Community, Liberation, and Ecopsychology, P, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Mary Watkins
  • Reader: Dr. Indhushree Rajan
  • External Reader: Dr. Lorena Garcia
  • Keywords: Sexuality, Education, Sex-ed, Intersectional, Intersectionality, Anti-racist, Inclusive, Critical Approaches, LGBTQI, Comprehensive, Pedagogies, Liberatory, Racial Equity, Participatory, Social Justice