Learn more about her winning submission here:
Title: Familial Sexual Education for South Asian American Undergraduates and its Implications on Sexual Well-being
Abstract: With culturally distinct conceptions of sexuality and gender along with complex migration histories to the United States, South Asian immigrants showcase unique methods of undertaking familial sexual education conversations with their children. These second-generation South Asian American children must then navigate parental sexual communication alongside normative standards of sexual expression for adolescents in America. Using a feminist and folklorist framework, this study employs a mixed-methods approach involving quantitative survey data and qualitative interviews of undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania to understand the trends and effects of familial sexual education for South Asian Americans. The collected data analyzes several identity variables, the occurrences and content of the sexual education talks, and various measures of participants’ sexual well-being, including activity levels, knowledge, and comfortability with sexual expression. The findings of this ethnographic research ultimately reveal a differential prioritization of open sexual communication as well as differing perspectives on sexual expression between South Asian immigrant parents and their South Asian American children, stemming from the disparate lived experiences of the two generations. Participants overwhelmingly reported an absence of familial sexual education. However, more discrete forms, such as silence, restrictive messaging, and implicit actions, were all part of broader parental sexual communications for this demographic. The sexual boundaries constructed by said communication create complicated situations that their children must navigate through obedience, lying, or rebellion and result in varying effects on their physical, mental, and sexual well-being. Impacts included familial tensions, discomfort during sexual encounters, negative repercussions on relationships, and difficulties with medical care. Realizing these consequences allows future scholarship to examine what steps can be taken to address the potentially harmful effects of lacking familial sexual education.