Last month saw a huge win for love in Australia. Sixty-two percent of Australians voted in favour of marriage equality, as Australia became the 27th country to legalise gay marriage.
The country celebrated this step toward equality with rainbow-clad enthusiasm – and now students are calling for the movement to progress into the curriculum.
Sex education has traditionally focused on the biology of reproduction and pregnancy. Giving a heteronormative account of sexual relations, sex education leaves out the emotional aspects of sex and love which are crucial for healthy relationships.
According to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, “comprehensive sexuality education” should include age-appropriate, culturally relevant, scientifically accurate, non-judgmental content which acknowledges diversity.
With 10 percent of Australian students claiming to be attracted to the same sex, and 1.7 percent having physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical and social norms for female or male bodies, the need for comprehensive LGBTQ+ sex education is seen as crucial to maintain positive attitudes towards sexuality.
As a society, Australia needs to be more informed. Education about LGBTQ history and civil rights need to be taught.
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) August 24, 2017
“The school environment should promote understanding of, and respect for, sexuality and gender diversity. Policies and programs to address homophobic and transphobic abuse and support the professional development of school staff, are crucial to inclusive sexuality education,” medical writer Melissa Kang wrote for SBS.
A recent survey of 2,000 students in Victoria and South Australia found young people want more information about gender diversity, violence in relationships, sexual pleasure, intimacy and love, rather than a repetition of biology.
“Respectful classrooms are great places for young people to learn about sexuality and where to go for relevant information. Much better than the sorts of places the Internet could take them if they Google,” wrote Kang.
“Leaving young people to figure it out themselves because we’re nervous or uncomfortable could result in ill-informed decision-making. It also withholds knowledge that is their right to have. Sexuality education should be empowering and provide young people with the skills to live sexually healthy lives.”
Marriage equality is a positive step toward inclusion in Australia. Now, Australia has the opportunity to cement inclusion into society through LGBTQ+ education.