Sexuality Education in NSW Schools
Parents will be concerned that many of the teaching ideas of the Safe Schools Coalition are also being used in the new Sexuality Education of the NSW Department of Education.
The resource, ‘Affirming Diversity’ in the Year 10 PDHPE program teaches:
- Sexuality is different from sex, in other words sexual orientation and behaviour is not dependent upon one’s biological sex.
- It is counter-productive to view sexuality in terms of opposites, male and female, since this program asserts that, “binary thinking is not useful.”
- Sexuality is fluid and in flux. It varies according to one’s positioning or preference, and it can also change according to one’s life stage.
- Young people are encouraged to experiment with sex and explore their sexual orientation.
The Year 10 ‘Affirming Diversity’ resource uses the following strategies:
- Taking up a position– A selection of statements redefining sexuality are read out and students stand next to a sign that says, ‘Strongly Agree’, ‘Agree’, ‘Disagree’, ‘Strongly Disagree’. They then have to defend their position. This activity makes it hard for a student to disagree, and it can undermine a student’s values.
- Character scenarios– All the scenarios in these lessons describe young people having casual sex and sex with multiple partners, despite the fact that the NSW Department of Education has recommended that the objective of Sexuality Education should be discouraging casual sex and sex with multiple partners due to the high health risks associated with this kind of sexual behaviour. (About Sexuality and Sexual Health Education in NSW Government Schools, 2015, page 3).
- Character Cards– Students were asked to imagine themselves as a character, for example, “A same sex attracted Indian girl” or “An Aboriginal girl with casual sex partners” or “A bi-sexual Anglican girl”. Again most of the cards involve characters who are young, sexually active and involved in casual sex. It also indirectly stereotypes cultural and traditional values. The underlying assumption is that Aboriginal, Christian, Muslim and Indian cultures are restrictive.
The Year 11 and 12 Crossroads Program is a mandatory requirement for NSW government schools to be delivered for a minimum time of 25 hours.
Two of the learning units of the Crossroads Program include ‘Do Opposites Really Attract’ and ‘‘Gender Matters’.
‘Do Opposites Really Attract’ – sample from lesson plan. Again, this resource affirms homosexual relations by reacting against binary thinking especially in the area of sexuality. For example the program states:
- “It is important for students to move beyond binary thinking, or thinking in terms of opposites. They need to understand that gender is not fixed and that as young people they do not have to comply with traditional notions of what it means to be a young man or a young woman in today’s society.
- Sexuality is made up of many components and it is not useful to think of sexuality in terms of opposites, components of sexuality change over time, sexual behaviour, orientation and identity are not the same.”
‘Gender Matters’ –sample from lesson plan. This resource addresses transgender people and their needs. In order to accommodate the needs of transgender students schools are advised to:
- Redefine sexuality and gender across all key learning areas.
- Make sure that the school has a policy in place that addresses transgender students’ needs in areas such as, toilets, change rooms, excursions, camps, PDHPE lessons, and each school requires a universal approach that prepares its students to accept and accommodate the transgender student.
- “….We should have strategies to support young people who are questioning their gender or transitioning to another gender”. (Ollis et al, 2013)
- Explore gender and the extent to which it is socially constructed to assist all young people to view gender expectations as limiting, and support them to challenge the expectations.