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Comprehensive Sex Education PSY 226 Child and Adolescent Development -JVV


PSY 226: Child and Adolescent Development Joel Viera-Vera

Comprehensive Sex Education

Promoting Child and Adolescent Development through Comprehensive Sex Education Development in children and adolescents is a complicated and important part of human growth that profoundly affects a person's future well-being wellbeing. Comprehensive sex education (CSE) is a significant policy concern that immediately affects children and teenagers under 18. The relevance of comprehensive sex education as a strategy to promote healthy child and adolescent development.

Healthy Relationships and Communication Programs for comprehensive sex education (CSE) are essential for encouraging teenagers to have healthy relationships and excellent communication skills.

Policy Background Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) is a strategy for educating young people about various subjects relating to sexuality and relationships supported by research (Yoshikawa et al., 2001). CSE offers accurate, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive information on sexual health, relationships, consent, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), in contrast to abstinence-only programs (Goldfarb & Lieberman, 2021). It strives to give young people the information and abilities they need to make wise choices regarding their relationships and sexual well-being.

  • Guiding Healthy Relationships.
  • Reduced Risk of STIs and Unintended Pregnancies.
  • Informed Decision-Making.
  • Reduced Stigma.
  • Dismantling Bias and Stereotypes (LGTBQ)

Importance of CSE for Child and Adolescent Development

Puberty and Development: CSE teaches young people about adolescent development and puberty, assisting them in understanding the physical and psychological changes they go through.

  • Use a latex or polyurethane condom—Using a latex or polyurethane condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex reduces the risk of infection. Know that some sex practices increase the risk—Sexual acts that tear or break the skin carry a higher risk of STIs.

Reduced Risk of STIs

  • Use a latex or polyurethane condom—Using a latex or polyurethane condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex reduces the risk of infection. Know that some sex practices increase the risk—Sexual acts that tear or break the skin carry a higher risk of STIs.

Reduced Risk of STIs

For adolescents who are sexually active, using effective contraceptives (such as condoms, birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, the intrauterine device or IUD, and/or injectable birth control methods) every time they have sexual intercourse will reduce chances of unwanted pregnancy.

Unintended Pregnancies.

Reduced Stigma and building an Understanding!

  • Gender is how an individual identifies with their assigned sex, the opposite sex, or they may choose to identify with neither.
  • Depending on the context, this may include sex-based social structures, gender identity, and cultural aspects of being male or female.


  • ‘Sex’ usually refers to the biological & physical differences between people who are male, female or intersex.
  • Sexual assignment is determined at birth based on physiological characteristics (i.e genitalia, chromosome composition.


Some transgender people desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another and identify as transsexual.

Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth.



Gender Development in Early Childhood:

  • A child may change his/her mind regarding their gender identity as the child grows and sorts the knowledge they acquire through interactions within schemas and experiences.
  • Historically, development among children who showed persistent and impressive cross-gender identification and preferences were often studied as a marker of problematic development. i.e. a sign of inherent psychopathology.
  • Recently, some researchers, clinicians, and parents are viewing children’s cross-gender identification and behaviors as part of a spectrum of normal gender variation rather than a clinical concern.

Gender Development in Early Childhood:

  • Previous research on gender has primarily focused on cisgender children (children whose gender identities align with their sex assignment at birth).
  • Most children typically develop the ability to recognize and label stereotypical gender groups such as girl, woman, boy, man, between ages 18 and 24 months. Most also categorize their own gender by age 3.
  • By their third birthdays, nearly all cisgender children label their gender according to their assigned sex.

Gender Development in Early Childhood:

  • Throughout the preschool and elementary school years, children typically view themselves as highly similar to others of the same gender, and different from members of another gender.
  • Studies show that the mean age of the transgender woman's earliest general memory and first experience of gender dysphoria were between ages 4.5 and 6.7. For transgender men, it was between ages 4.7 and 6.2.

Being Raised Transgender

Real Experiences of Growing Up Transgender

What Causes Transness in Children?

  • Environmental factors, like socialization, have been proposed as been instrumental in the development of gender schemas and the identification of individuals within them.
  • However the most studied factors are biological, especially brain structure differences in relation to biology and sexual orientation
  • The available research indicates that the brain structure of trans women is closer to the brain structure of cisgender women's and less like cisgender men’s.

Can Toys Determine Gender Identity?

  • Cisgender children often show preferences and behaviors that are highly stereotypical of their gender.
  • Developmental psychologists Gerianne Alexander and Melissa Hines presented male and female vervet monkeys with the same kinds of toys that they had previously used to test children’s toy preferences (Alexander & Hines, 2002). The monkeys’ preferences were uncannily similar to those of humans.

Can Toys Determine Gender Identity?

  • Male monkeys played more with model cars and trucks.
  • Female monkeys played more with dolls.
  • A more recent study done with rhesus monkeys (Hassett et al., 2008), showed similar results of the monkeys’ selection of a toy having a strong correlation with their biological sex.

What is a Monkeys Favorite Toy?

Experiment: Is Gender Structured in the Brain

Gender Dysphoria:

  • A concept designated in the DSM-5 as clinically significant affliction related to a strong desire to be of another gender. This may include a desire to change primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.
  • Gender dysphoria recognizes that there is a lot of confusion involved when children make such decisions. Puberty preventive therapy is suggested to facilitate their final decision.

Puberty Preventive Therapy:

  • A child is given puberty blockers, also known as hormone blockers, to assist in delaying the male or female puberty stage. It decreases the progression of unwanted and obvious physical changes that do not match someone's gender identity.
  • Once the child is of more appropriate age (unknown number), he or she can then decide whether or not to continue and complete full transition.
  • This is strongly recommended as a number of children will change their minds, as the effects of hormone blockers can then be reversed this therapy allows for other options of transition to be considered.

Puberty Preventive Therapy: Side Effects

  • Delaying or stopping the therapy can cause immature development of genital tissues, which may limit options for gender affirming surgery and other unknown long term side effects in the future.
  • Currently it is unknown whether hormone blockers affect the development of the teenage brain or a child’s bones.
  • Other side effects may also include hot flushes, fatigue, and mood fluctuations.

Gender Affirmation Surgery

  • Sex reassignment surgery, (a.k.a. gender reassignment surgery), is a surgical procedure that help people transition to their personal gender identity.
  • The goal is to give a transgender person a body that aligns with their gender
  • Procedures of the face, chest and/or genitalia are involved.
  • These procedures are irreversible and have long term effects and consequences.


  • Similarity in Transgender and Cisgender Children’s Gender Development, Department of Psychology (Gülgöza et. al 2019)
  • Monkeys, Toys, and Gender (Alexander & Hines 2002)
  • The Psychology of Transgender (Walter Bockting 2015)
  • Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (American Psychological Association 2014)
  • Infancy & Toddlerhood & Early Childhood (Class PowerPoint Deck)
  • Transgender Children Talk About Being Raised By Their Families (Them. 2017)
  • https://opa.hhs.gov/adolescent-health/reproductive-health-and-teen-pregnancy/strategies-and-approaches-prevention#:~:text=For%20adolescents%20who%20are%20sexually,reduce%20chances%20of%20unwanted%20pregnancy.
  • https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/how-to-prevent-stis#:~:text=Use%20a%20latex%20or%20polyurethane,a%20higher%20risk%20of%20STIs.