Case Study: Sex Re-Education


July 26, 2021

In 2021 Refinery29 and VICE Media Group Insights fielded a survey of 1,425 young people in the U.S., U.K., and Canada exploring where traditional sex-ed has fallen short, how young people get information about sex and the questions they are still seeking answers to. 

The survey found that young people go without access to comprehensive, medically accurate, and inclusive education about sex, sexuality, relationships, and health (R29). Although 80% of respondents received formal sex education, only 5% felt that sex-ed prepared them for the real world. 

The Cold Hard Truth? Sex-Ed is Broken 

Survey respondents went on to highlight areas that were woefully lacking in sex education curricula, including:

Sexual health as it relates to the queer community – 80% of our audience believe sex-ed didn’t cover sex as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community. 

“We had nothing on LGBTQ sex (I am a lesbian), so I had no idea what to do and how to feel safe.” Millennial Woman, UK

Recognizing female pleasure – 72% of our audience told us sex-ed didn’t cover the topic of pleasure. 

“[The least useful thing I learned was] sex being a simple means for procreation only, or the idea that women do not desire sexual relationships or pleasure.” – Millennial Woman, US

Consent education – 52% of our audience said sex-ed didn’t cover the topic of consent. 

“[I did not learn] much or anything on consent and how to enjoy/be safe/explore sex and sexualities.” Millennial Man, US

What Can We Do About It?

We owe it to more sexually, ethnically, and gender-diverse young audiences to make sure sex-ed is culturally responsive. Sex-ed should accurately reflect what exists in the world today. As brands and media publishers, we need to eliminate shame and talk about sex openly: from self-pleasure and orgasms to sexual health and STIs. Let’s paint a portrait that everyone can see themselves in and step in to give youth the education they need without resorting to fear-mongering or lecturing. 

What Did We Do About It?

We acted on this research and through Refinery29 launched Sex Re-Education, a platform to give diverse young people the vocabulary to talk about sex and drive a cultural shift where conversations around sexual health are normalized.

This long-term content series covered topics that sex ed curriculums typically ignore through a reimagined syllabus for the modern age. Told through bold new formats, including Google Web Stories, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat – we meet audiences where they are, in the formats they enjoy using. 

Sex Re-Education was completed in collaboration with Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit organization that has worked to promote effective adolescent reproductive and sexual health programs and policies for over 40 years. And emergency contraception Plan B One-Step®, who supported the collective mission of providing accessible education about contraception.

To download the report, please click here.
Read more @
Sex Education in The United States Is Broken, But It Doesn’t Have to Be
Refinery29’s Sex Re-Education Press Release 

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