Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies

Committee Chair

Marilyn Hirth

Committee Member 1

Richard Olenchak

Committee Member 2

Rachel Roegman

Committee Member 3

Gerald Hyner

Committee Member 4

Jeralyn Faris


This qualitative, phenomenological study explored Sexual Health Education (SHE) through the lens of 11 public school teachers who offered sex education to their students; teaching sex education was not mandated by the State. It explored the levels of comfort and barriers that educators possessed when they communicated SHE to adolescents. One community within the State of Indiana was examined; at the time of the study. Eleven 7-12th grade educators among three school districts shared their beliefs, values, and feelings regarding SHE instruction and levels of sexuality comfort. As a result, the concept of sexuality comfort was reconstructed, and three findings emerged from the data that can contribute to further research in the fields of education, communication, and health. They include: (1) An inclusive sexual health education program can provide educators with more sexuality comfort, (2) Teacher training and instructional materials relate to an educator’s sexuality comfort level and willingness to communicate SHE, and (3) An educator’s level of sexuality comfort will likely increase if engaged in SHE decision-making policies.