Sexuality education at four-year public colleges and universities in the American South
Sexuality education in the American South leaves students ill-prepared to enter four-year colleges and universities, where some students engage in sexual risk-taking behaviors. College sexual health promotion seeks to fill this gap by providing education on topics ranging from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention to healthy relationships, sexual orientation and gender identity. However, the professionals doing this work oftentimes must navigate an institutional or political climate that is not supportive or wanting of comprehensive sexuality education. This project seeks to answer: how do public, four-year colleges and universities in the American South deliver sexuality education to their students; what are the obstacles that college health professionals face in providing sexuality education; and what are the facilitators to providing sexuality education? Sixteen semi-structured interviews with college health professionals, identified through the American College Health Association directory, were conducted. Through thematic analysis using NVivo 12, this project characterizes the approach, content, and methods of delivery that college health professionals use, in addition to the obstacles and successes that they have faced. Significant findings include the theme "flying under the radar," and obstacles, including COVID-19, lack of institutional support, and politics. These findings suggest that college health professionals who provide sexuality education in political environments must navigate intense opposition, both within their institution and from outside sources, that ultimately limits the education students can receive. Suggestions for practice, advocacy, and further research are provided.