Article Text

Original research
Examining LGBTI+ inclusive sexual health education from the perspective of both youth and facilitators: a systematic review
  1. Muire O'Farrell1,
  2. Phil Corcoran1,
  3. Martin P Davoren1,2
  1. 1 Health Promotion, Alliance Sexual Health Centre, Cork, Ireland
  2. 2 School of Public Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Muire O'Farrell; muireofarrell{at}


Objectives To critically appraise and synthesise the evidence in relation to both the receipt and delivery of LGBTI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) inclusive sexual health education.

Design A systematic review and narrative synthesis.

Data sources A systematic search of three online databases (EMBASE, PsychINFO and SocINDEX) from January 1990 to May 2021 was conducted.

Eligibility criteria Studies included were (1) peer-reviewed; (2) English; (3) quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods; that evaluated (4) inclusive sexual health in an educational or online setting and (5) focused on training or educating. Studies were excluded if (1) the population was not LGBTI+ inclusive; (2) the studies did not focus on original data or (3) the study was not available in full text.

Data extraction and synthesis The studies that met the inclusion criteria were assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool. A narrative synthesis was then completed employing content analysis focusing on the results section of each article.

Results Of the 5656 records retrieved, 24 studies met the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies noted that both LGBTI+ youth and those who facilitate sexual health education are turning to online sources of information. Current sexual health education programmes operate mainly from a heterosexual perspective, creating a sense of exclusion for LGBTI+ youth. This is compounded by a lack of training, or provision of an inclusive curricula, resulting in facilitators feeling ill equipped or inhibited by their personal biases.

Conclusions LGBTI+ youth are not experiencing inclusive and comprehensive sexual health education. In parallel, educators report poor access to information, training and resources remain the primary reasons. There is a need to standardise sexual health curricula, making them LGBTI+ inclusive and incorporate holistic aspects of health such as pleasure and healthy relationships. Online approaches should be considered in the future, as they represent equality of access for both sexual health education professionals and LGBTI+ youth alike.

  • education & training (see medical education & training)
  • public health
  • health policy
  • sexual medicine

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

View Full Text

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary Data

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.


  • Twitter @MuireFarrell

  • Contributors MO'F and MPD designed the review, undertook the review searches, screened for eligibility and assessed the quality of the included studies. MO'F, MPD and PC completed the data analysis. MO'F prepared the draft of the systematic review, edited the draft of systematic review. MPD read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), Block 1 Miesian Plaza, 50-58 Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2, D02 XWI4, Ireland. The DCEDIY did not have any role in the conduct or report of this review. We do not perceive there to be any conflict of interest related to their role in the reporting of this systematic review.

  • Competing interests All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare that (1) MO'F, MPD and PC all work in the area of sexual health, delivering inclusive sexual health workshops and educational interventions to groups. (2) Funding was received from DCEDIY to pay for the research post held by MO'F.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.