FRQ Summer-Internship Scholarship with Elisa Philibert: Creating Resources to Support Parents’ Conversations on Sexuality Education with their Young Children

FRQ Summer-Internship Scholarship with Elisa Philibert: Creating Resources to Support Parents’ Conversations on Sexuality Education with their Young Children

Elisa Philibert

“My goal is to spread awareness surrounding sexuality.”

Elisa Philibert’s research aims to understand and improve sex education in the demographic of young children (aged 3 to 8 years old). Working with Dr. Jessica Prioletta, they first focused on how teachers were currently implementing the sexuality education program in schools. While researching the topic and looking into the academic literature on the subject, they noticed that the “parents” factor was always named as a barrier that prevented teachers from implementing courses about sexuality. The goal of Elisa’s research is thus to find ways to support teachers… by supporting parents!

Currently, Elisa is looking into how parents’ comfort levels in teaching sexuality to their own children can grow if they are provided with resources, training, and information on the subject. She was motivated to remove the discomfort surrounding sex education by finding ways to make parents comfortable with the topics of sexuality and encounters in a home setting as well as a school setting.

The idea of researching sexuality in young children came mainly from a desire to add to the academic literature tackling the myth of childhood innocence that often creates perceptions that children should not be exposed to sex education or would be “shocked” if they were to find out about their own bodies. The existing literature had been focused on parents teaching their teenagers about sexuality, but Elisa noticed little was available on educating the younger children. Moreover, most of the research on sexuality education of parents to young children does not provide ways of addressing the discomfort that has been found among parents.

Therefore, Elisa’s research contributes to the existing academic debate by addressing new ways of approaching the topic by putting the theory into action. The main objective is to cooperate with parents to create positive and inclusive resources that can help them support their young children by opening conversations on anatomy, consent, gender and sexual orientation.

Elisa gathered and created resources such as books and activities to put together a research-curated resources kit. She has 10 English-speaking parent participants from the Lennoxville / Sherbrooke area who have children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old. In the first phase, she interviewed them to understand their sex education background, what education they received as children and what subjects they were already talking about with their own children. In the second phase, Elisa provided them with group training and each parent received a box of resources that they had 1 month and a half to use at home with their children. In the final phase, parents brought back the boxes and participated in group interviews during which they provided feedback on the boxes and explained if and how it helped them address the topic of sex education with their own children.

Elisa is now analyzing the data and identifying recurring themes that parents touched on, as well as seeing how having the box tool kit and prior training helped.

After Bishop’s, Elisa plans to pursue a Master’s degree and would love to someday work with organizations that spread awareness surrounding sexuality.

Joannie St-Germain M.Sc.
Research Officer
Office of Research and Graduate Studies