Josh Heyes

Doctoral Researcher


josh heyesCurrent Status

Final year

Research Topic

Religion and Sexuality Education: A narrative study with Christian young men.

Research Suumary

The issue of school-based sex education – who should teach it, to whom, in what way, and why – continues to raise deeply rooted political and moral disagreement. My research engages critically with academic and political debates over sexuality education by bringing them into conversation with research on religious young people’s lives. 

The empirical aspect of my work uses in-depth narrative interviews with a small group of Christian young men, of diverse denomination and demography. My analysis links together the narrative account of their romantic relationships and sexuality as it developed through their adolescence with their descriptions, evaluations, and recommendations for sexuality education broadly conceived.

The themes emerging from the narrative analysis raise new and important questions about the philosophy, politics and practice of both formal and informal sexuality education. My research critically engages the way that religious traditions and religious young people are positioned in sexuality education, enriching the conversation about how school based sex education might better engage with cultural and moral diversity. At the same time, it calls into question the foundational structures of educational institutions that construct and constrain the narrative emergence of both religious and non-religious sexual subjectivity.

Research Interests

  • Religion and Sexuality
  • Sexual ethics
  • English sex education
  • Christian theology and philosophy
  • Secularization theory
  • Narrative research methods

Research Supervisors

Dr Toni Stolberg

Dr Sarah Hall

Source of Funding


Membership of research and professional organisations

  • British Sociological Association (BERA)
  • Sex Education Forum
  • British Educational Research Association (Sexualities and Gender)

Publications and conference presentations

Joshua Michael Heyes & Tonie Stolberg (2018) The lived ethics of abstinence: Christian young men’s experiences of romantic relationships, Sex Education, 18:5, 587-600, DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2018.1448974 

Joshua Michael Heyes (2018) Towards a virtue ethical approach to relationships and sex education, Journal of Moral Education, 48:2 DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2018.1450232 

Responsible pedagogies: Liberal moral education and the anthropology of ethics (Paper given at the Philosophy of Education Research Seminar Series, University of Birmingham, March 2018). 

Feminist post-structural approaches to research in relationships and sex education – a critique along with some provocations for Christian education (Paper given at ‘Christian Education and Contemporary Culture’ Canterbury Christ Church University, July 2017).

‘Towards a virtue ethical approach to relationships and sex education’ (Paper given at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues Seminar Series, July 2017)

The emergence of sexual rights frameworks in globalized sex education discourse: locating religious rights and sexual citizenship’ (Paper given at ‘Education in a Changing World’, University of Warwick, May 2017).

‘“I liked it, but I was also disgusted…” Challenging British sex and relationships education through Christian young men’s experiences of romantic relationships’ (Paper given at University of Birmingham PG Education Conference, October 2016)

Phenomenology in Sex and Relationships Research" (Social Sciences: Different Approaches, Different Solutions? University of Nottingham 2016) “I liked it, but I was also disgusted…” Challenging British sex and relationships education through Christian young men’s experiences of romantic relationships (Birmingham PGR Education Conference 2016)