The purpose of this paper is to critique the Writing Themselves In 3 study. Nine concerns are raised about the methodology and eight comments are made about limitations in the educational and social interpretation of the findings.
The Writing Themselves In 3 study explored the sexual feelings, the sexual identity, the sexual behaviours, treatment from others and health aspects of 3134 same sex attracted and gender questioning young people.
This is the third in a series of reports that have major policy and program implications especially for sexuality education. It is stated that
The research has been widely accepted. It has been used Australia-wide to inform government policy, and is evident in a number of government documents relating to social policy, school safety and curriculum development (Hillier et al., 2010, p. 1 – all page references are to the report).
The methodology of Writing Themselves In 3 becomes important when the report indicated, “We have the numbers in this study to provide strong statistical evidence and we have young people’s stories which provide vivid explanations for any findings that emerge” (p. 3).
This paper provides a critique of the Writing Themselves In 3. The findings have been accepted without restriction in some quarters such as the Human Rights Commission.1 The New South Wales Department of Education described it as “a report card for governments, communities, families and in particular, schools”.2 It has become an integral component of same-sex policies, especially in education and is referred to in All of Us, the health and physical education resource for understanding gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics for Years 7 and 8 (Bush, Radcliffe, Ward, Scott and Parsons, undated).
The first aspect of this critique is to consider how the findings were obtained. Nine concerns are raised about the methodology and eight comments are made about limitations in the educational and social interpretation of the findings. The following section provides the reader with a brief summary of some key findings of Writing Themselves In 3.
- Australian Human Rights Commission, Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/face-facts-lesbian-gay-bisexual-trans-and-intersex-people#fn10 Retrieved March 2016.