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Sex education experiences of sexuality diverse and gender variant young people in Australia: Implications for educators and health professionals

Sex education experiences of sexuality diverse and gender variant young people in Australia: Implications for educators and health professionals

Introduction: This presentation is based on a Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre project conducted in 2012, focusing on the issues facing young people in Australia who identify as queer, gender variant, and / or sexuality diverse. The experiences of these young people were mapped across a broad range of issues including identity, health and wellbeing, education, technology and access to services. Of particular significance was the ineffectual or lack of sex education in families and schooling encountered by these young people. Methods: A national wide online survey was completed by 1417 young people16-27 years of age, who identifies as queer, gender variant and / or sexuality diverse. Focus groups and interactive workshops were also conducted with a group of young people attending a community not-for-profit drop in service in Sydney-Twenty10 – supporting those who identify as gender variant, sexuality diverse, or questioning their gender and/or sexuality. Additionally, a focus group and interviews were held with workers in this service about their perceptions of the major issues facing the young people they work with. results: Most of the participants in this research considered sex education in schools to be ineffectual and irrelevant. Approximately 90% of the survey participants said sex education was restricted to bodily changes at puberty, human reproduction, pregnancy and STI’s. Less than 15% encountered discussions of gender variance, same-sex relationships, bisexuality, sexual pleasure, or homophobia. Less than 4% had discussions about transgender identities or transphobia. The vast majority used the Internet for information about safe sex, transgender issues, same-sex relationships, sexuality and discrimination. Pornography was the default sex education source for young gay men in particular. Conclusion: There is a need for comprehensive and inclusive sex education in schools to enhance the health and well being opportunities of gender variant and sexuality diverse young people and to help counteract discrimination.

Conference: AIDS 2013, HIV
Areas of Interest / Categories: AIDS 2014

AIDS 2014

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