‘It is not all about sex’: Young People’s Views about Sexuality and Relationships Education

Year: 2016

Author: Fitzpatrick, Katie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
Sexuality education has traditionally centred on biology and harm-prevention aspects of sexuality, often focused on what adults are willing to teach and what they think students should be learning about. While the focus of sexuality and relationships education is changing in Australia, young people are rarely involved in discussions about what should be taught and how. This paper reports on the first stage of a large-scale research project seeking the views of students about their sexuality and relationships education experiences and needs. An online survey of 2,325 students aged 13-16 years in 31 secondary schools in South Australia and Victoria was conducted in 2015. The survey found that school-based sexuality and relationships education programs were a significantly used and trusted source of information for the majority of students in this study. However, students offered a number of suggestions for improvement and change. This paper discusses key findings from the survey, focusing on a comparative analysis of gender and state. While a number of students (particularly girls) felt uncomfortable or embarrassed during sexuality and relationships education lessons, many still viewed the lessons to be important and relevant to their present and future lives. The findings of this study clearly show the importance of continuing to engage with students about these issues.

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