Rise: Research on Inequality, Sexuality, and Education

Principle Investigator: Jessica Fields, PhD

All of the projects in Dr. Fields’ research program challenge conventional understandings of the “effects” of sexuality education to include the lessons students take away about sexual difference and inequality; the intersections of sexuality, race, and gender inequalities; people’s claims to membership and belonging in social contexts; and their own and others’ entitlement to sexual pleasure and respect.


Beyond Bullying: Shifting the Discourse of LGBTQ Sexuality and Youth in Schools

We want to know if it is possible to talk about LGBTQ sexuality in schools beyond concerns about bullying, mental health, dropping out and other risky situations. What about love, family, friendship and even our favorite LGBTQ movie and television stars? How do these stories of LGBTQ life come up and what does school need to do to make room for them?

Check out the full Beyond Bullying website HERE.


Ford Foundation

Risky Lessons: Sex Education and Social Inequality (Published Summer 2008)

Few subjects spark more controversy in debates over U.S. schooling than sex education. Conservatives argue that sexual abstinence should be teachers’ only message; liberals counter that teachers should provide comprehensive instruction that helps young people avoid STDs and pregnancies. Students and teachers find themselves caught in the middle of controversies that are seldom as clear-cut as the debate suggests. Risky Lessons brings readers inside middle school classrooms to show how students and teachers both support and subvert the official sex education curriculum. Ultimately critical of both conservative and liberal approaches to sex education, Fields argues that sex education’s aims need not be limited to reducing the risk of sexual activity. Instead, sex education can help young people contend with sexual desires, and gender, race, and class inequalities.


Social Science Research Council Sexuality Research Fellowship Program; Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues; San Francisco State University Human Sexuality Studies Program (with funds from the Ford Foundation); the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; SFSU Presidential Award for Professional Development of Probationary Faculty, and Woodrow Wilson Foundation

Jailed Women and HIV Education: A Collaborative Investigation

Participatory action research project examining (1) how risk and pleasure come together for women in an educational setting hosted by a punitive institution; and (2) health education’s capacity to challenge racialized, gendered, sexual, and economic social inequalities. Methodological focus on researchers, educators, and inmates working together to generate knowledge about women, sexuality, and incarceration. This study is in partnership with health educators from the Forensic AIDS Project (FAP).


California HIV Research Program; SFSU Center for Health Disparities Research and Training

Relations: Race, Gender, and Sexuality, in Young Adults’ Lives

San Francisco site of an international comparative ethnographic study of race, gender, and sexuality in young adults’ lives. Participant observation, interview, and survey data collection currently underway in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Sáo Paolo), South Africa (Capetown and Johannesburg), and the United States (Chicago and San Francisco)


Ford Foundation

Sexuality Education For and By Youth

Study of whether and how sexuality education changes when young people are the teachers and learners. Particular focus on young people’s efforts to manage “educator” and “peer” roles; heteronormativity in sexuality education for and by youth; and institutional constraints in which youth educators work. Data come from focus groups led by student research assistants, who also play a central role in data analysis.


American Psychological Foundation Wayne T. Placek Small Grant

Social Inequalities and the Movement for Same-Sex Marriage

Considers contemporary movement for same-sex marriage and its elision of social inequalities based on race, age, and class.


San Francisco State University Human Sexuality Studies Program (with funds from the Ford Foundation)

Needs and Resources of Peer Education Programs: An Assessment

In Fall 2005, RISE began collaborating with Health Initiatives for Youth (HIFY), a San Francisco-based organization that promotes the health and well-being of young people, to assess the needs and resources of Bay Area youth education programs. Collaborative members, including student research assistants, collected and analyzed data from surveys, participant observations, and one-on-one interviews with youth educators and program coordinators. HIFY will use the findings to improve the trainings and other services they provide youth sexuality education programs in the Bay Area.