Table 3

Second-order and third-order constructs

Third-order constructs
Schools have not sufficiently acknowledged that sex is a powerful, intimate, potentially embarrassing and anxiety provoking subject (overarching third-order construct)Pound et al 2016, present paper
 Discussing sex within school renders students and teachers vulnerable
 Since sex is such a powerful subject, SRE defuses it by presenting it as a scientific topic
 Since sex is such a powerful subject, SRE contains it within a moral framework
Schools have difficulty accepting young people's sexual activity (overarching third-order construct)
 Because of the difficulty of accepting young people's sexual activity, SRE is out of touch with young people's lives
 Because of the difficulty of accepting young people's sexual activity, SRE fails to discuss issues relevant to sexually active young people
Second-order constructs
 The assumption inherent in SRE, that sex is not embarrassing, is insensitive to young peoplevan Teijlingen et al37
 SRE is a potentially threatening subject, creating anxieties about other students’ reactions, especially those of the opposite sex; discomfort manifests in a reluctance to ask questions and sometimes disruptive behaviourBuston et al38
 Young men put on a performance of masculinity, conforming to stereotypical cultural valuesMeasor et al42
 Young men’ behaviour in sex education classes conforms to social codes that valorise masculine resistance to authorityChambers et al45
 Exposure of lack of knowledge will entail loss of face and shame for young men; knowing what to do in a sexual encounter is defined as male responsibilityMeasor et al42
 Young men cannot engage in SRE because to ask for information reveals their existing lack of knowledge in a context where the masculine ideal is to be proficient and experiencedLimmer46
 Male sexuality is about owning and controlling sexual power and agency and because therefore young men cannot acknowledge a lack of sexual knowledge and have to come across as sexually competentChambers et al45
 Young men are potentially vulnerable in SRE lessons where admitting a lack of sexual knowledge might threaten their masculinityHilton44
 Possession of sexual knowledge is linked to status within student peer groupsThomson and Scott48
 Claims to sexual knowledge and expertise have a role in achieving a place at the top of the male hierarchy; young men’ disruptive behaviour represents an attempt to take control in the classroom to prevent exposure of their lack of sexual knowledgeMeasor et al42
 Young women are vulnerable in mixed-sex education classes because participation in the lesson can be used by young men to attack their sexual reputationsStrange et al47
 Exposure of ‘too much’ knowledge by young women led to verbal attacks by young men on young women; young men’ behaviour in SRE classes rendered the young women almost invisible in the classroomMeasor et al42
 Teacher as protector (and friend) reduces student discomfort; trust between pupils reduces student discomfort; fun reduces student discomfort in SREBuston et al38
 Young people believe that scientific information does not articulate with everyday practiceMcKee et al71
 Sex education that presents sexual activity as clinical or scientific de-eroticises and disembodies itAllen67
 The forms of knowledge that seem to feature in SRE are those prescribing appropriate behaviourAllen72
 Young people learn from school and parents that sex is bad and you should neither have sex nor prepare for itMcKee et al71
 SRE presents a ‘legitimate’ model of sexuality, its power lying in what it omits rather than what it includesThomson and Scott48
 Invisibility of homosexuality denies the possibility of discussing sex or emotions within same-sex relationshipsAllen67
 Young gay men may be less inclined to pay attention to SRE that only addresses heterosexual interactionsKubicek et al78
 SRE messages are gendered and reproduce gender inequalitiesCastro-Vasquez and Kishi;76 Levin61
 SRE insists on young women taking responsibility for ‘doing the work’ of sexual relationshipsChambers et al45
 SRE places young women in the role of sexual gatekeeperLevin61
 SRE messages give young women the message that their sexual desires are mild compared to those of young menDiCenso et al57
 Traditional SRE leaves no space for discussion of female pleasureHirst79
 SRE reproduces sexist perceptions of women as lacking in desire and agency; participants’ descriptions of their sexual activity run counter to normative constructs of female behaviour and to the content of much sex educationHirst80
 Refusal to include non-reproductive aspects of sexuality reinforces a passive and negative view of female sexuality; SRE's reproductive paradigm shapes young women's understandings of what is normal and acceptableThomson and Scott48
 The informal sexual subculture is separate from the official school culture but that the two cultures collide in SREThomson and Scott48
 There is dissonance between SRE and the everyday lives of young peopleLangille et al51
 Young people's view of themselves as legitimately sexual and interested in achieving positive sexual experiences was not congruent with the school's view of them, possibly explaining their disengagement from SREAllen73
 The ‘discourse of erotics’ was missing from sexuality education; young people prioritise the ‘discourse of erotics’ over the ‘official’ discourseAllen72
 The focus on vaginal penetrative sex in SRE undermines young women’ ability to resist this in favour of less risky practicesHirst79
 Much of young people's sexual activity is ‘safer sex’ but this not acknowledged in SREHirst80
 The sorts of risk discussed in SRE seem less real, immediate or meaningful for young men than the immediate risks to them of deviating from performing the approved version of sexualised masculinityLimmer46
 Discourses of safer sex were resisted by young people if they threatened a desired sexual identity; SRE pays insufficient attention to the social context in which sexual risk-taking occursAbel and Fitzgerald74
 Some young people's culture is a significant factor in their sexual development and SRE can be insensitive to thisRawson and Liamputtong66
 The credibility of sex educators was linked to trust and confidentialityKimmel et al39
 Delivery of SRE by teachers that are known to students has the potential to disrupt existing relationships and breach boundaries; delivery of SRE by teachers commonly invoked concerns about breaches of confidentiality; pupils want privacy for their feelingsAlldred and David20
 Where sexual issues are not dealt with openly in school young people regard sexual matters as something ‘naughty’Woodcock et al41
 Young people learn that you should not talk about sexMckee et al71
 The perception of SRE teachers as ‘old’ creates a fear of being judged about their sexual behaviourLangille et al51
 The teacher–student relationship with its power relations provides a problematic context for discussions of sexualityLupton and Tulloch50
 The parent/child like relationship between teachers and pupils contributes to antagonistic interactions in class; students feel excitement at shifting the balance of power by making a teacher feel vulnerableHaste86
 Teachers were put on trial with respect to how they cope with delivering SREWoodcock et al41
 Peer educators’ similarity of age and status engender feelings of affinityKidger88
 The looser classroom management in peer-led lessons provides more opportunities for young men to dominateForrest et al40
  • SRE, sex and relationship education.