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Sex education, mandated in most Canadian schools, aims to teach youth about healthy sexual expression and relationships. However, programme delivery may vary widely, and sex education tends to focus on pregnancy and disease prevention and less on interpersonal issues such as relationships and violence. Sex education research tends to follow suit, focusing on dichotomous health outcomes rather than on how contextual factors, such as type of school, programme, tone, and teacher, may affect learning. This study expands this scope to include information about content presented in sex education (specifically related to relationships and sexual violence) as well as about school context, asking: Do amounts of information received in sex education about biology, relationships, and sexual violence, differ by school and programme context? Participants were 1845 undergraduates attending one of two postsecondary schools in Ontario, Canada. They completed an online survey about sexual information they had received. Independent variables included type of secondary school attended, sex education programme, and perceived tone of programme. MANCOVAs indicated that programme type and programme tone were linked with significant differences in amounts of biology, relationship, and violence messages received. Students reported the most content across all three areas was received in comprehensive sex education programmes. Safety-based programmes delivered the most information about biology and relationships, and pleasure-driven programmes delivered the most sexual violence information. School context may aff ect information amounts received about biology, relationships, and sexual violence, all important topics likely to contribute to the sexual health and safety of adolescents as they develop.


Biology, relationships, school context, sex education, sexual socialization, sexual violence


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