Let’s Talk about Sex [Education]
Sexual assault and sexual harassment (SVSH) are pervasive and well-documented problems on university campuses globally, impacting nearly 50% of college students. Evidence-based interventions are needed in college settings: comprehensive sex education (CSE) exposure pre-college is one promising intervention for addressing SVSH among college populations. CSE covers the topic of SVSH, including definitions to promote identification of SVSH (e.g., definitions that provide clarity related to the responsibility of obtaining and giving consent), the harms of sexual violence, as well as the various forms of sexual violence (e.g. sexual assault, dating violence, sexual harassment, cyber-sexual harassment). Evidence suggests that CSE delivered during early adolescence is associated with reduced SVSH victimization and less engagement in activities that coincide with SVSH perpetration (e.g., searching through a partner’s phone, managing their social media). CSE is associated with reduced acceptance of social norms and attitudes that promote SVSH, as well as improved resource-seeking and coping after experiencing SVSH. This cross-sectional study was completed in 2019 on three University of California campuses. It utilized a sequential explanatory mixed-methods study design, where qualitative in-depth interviews were utilized to supplement quantitative research. This work focused on understanding students’ exposure to sex education and its impact on their sexual and romantic relationships and experiences of SVSH.

Research Aims

Aim 1:
Explore how exposure to formal and informal sex education, both pre-college and in-college, impacts students’ identities and personal and romantic relationships later in life.

Aim 2:
Explore how undergraduate students experienced their formal and informal sex education in order to create student-centered recommendations for health education and policy.

Aim 3:
Understand how students from differing backgrounds (gender, sexual orientation, race / ethnicity) and cultures experienced sex education formally and informally, and its impact on their identities later in life.

Project Resources

  • Bloom BE, Sorin CR, Oaks L, Wagman JA. Graduate Students are “Making a Big Fuss”: Responding to Institutional Betrayal Around Campus Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, Journal of School Violence, 2023. 22:1, 44-60, DOI: 10.1080/15388220.2022.2130346
  • Bloom B.E., Kieu T.K., Wagman J.A., Ulloa E.C., and Reed E. (2022) Responsiveness of Sex Education to the Needs of LGBTQ+ Undergraduate Students and its Influence on Sexual Violence and Harassment Experiences. American Journal of Sexuality Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2022.2033662
  • Bloom B.E. (2022). Getting Sex Ed to Respond to the Needs of LGBTQ+ Undergraduate Students. Sex Ed Lecture Series.
  • Wenzel, C.*, Bloom, B. E., Kieu, T.* (2020, May). Let’s Talk about Sex [Education]: Focusing on the Sexual Health Education Needs of International Student Populations in the University of California System. Oral Presentation at the Center of Expertise (COE) Women’s Health, Gender and Empowerment Virtual Retreat.
  • Additional publications and presentations will be made available as they are accepted

Funding Source

Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award
Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Award

Western Regional Public Health Training Center Award




In part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [NUF2CE002403] and the California Department of Public Health [16-10844].

To Get Involved

Data collection for this project was completed in 2019; however, ongoing analyses and manuscripts are in progress. If you are interested in utilizing this data for a project, presentation or publication, please contact Dr. Brittnie Bloom.

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In this section, include:


Research Team

Brittnie E. Bloom, PhD, MS

Principal Investigator

Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Talia Kieu (SDSU), Christine Wenzel (UCSD), Atreyi Mitra (UCLA), Vidhisha Mahesh (UCSB) and Annjelika Slate (UCSB)


Elizabeth Reed, ScD, MPH

Associate Professor in Global Health at San Diego State University

Emilio Ulloa PhD

Professor of Psychology
Associate Chief Diversity Officer for HSI and Regional Affairs
San Diego State University

Jennifer Wagman, MHS, PhD

Faculty Mentor

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In this section, include: