The main topics students said weren’t covered at school or not discussed in the depth they’d like, included gender identity, same sex attraction and sexual identity, the influence of pornography and media representations of sex, as well sexual feelings and desires, respectful relationships, communication, consent and sexual decision making. The topics where the highest number of students said they received no information were important subjects such as STI treatment and testing, blood borne virus’s (BBVs) and the influences of porn.
These point to glaring gaps in sex education and was reflected in the frustration of some of the student’s quotes from the study:
“More information for LGBT+ people. My teacher couldn’t even tell us how to have safe lesbian sex.” (Female, 18 y/o, Year 12)
“I am in Year 9, I’m sure many people in my year will be sexually active soon. However, we still haven’t received any sexual education. Because of this, the chances of unsafe sex and maybe pregnancy are much higher. People, especially at my age, need to be informed properly, Also, we have not had any discussion on same sex ed, or on gender identity, which I believe we need.” (Male, 16 y/o, year 10)
“Just extremely outdated. We spent 5 lessons on something that can impact your entire life and is an integral part of a health relationship which has so many diversities which we barely touched based with.” (Male, 16 y/o, year 12)
Moving forward, students need to be included in the conversation, and consulted and listened to when it comes to their sexual health curriculum. What’s the point of having a sexual health curriculum that doesn’t cover all aspects or future aspects of young people’s sexual lives and experiences? We are setting them up for failure.
Until the sexual education curriculum improves, next time after PDHPE class when Mrs Baker shows you how to put a condom on a banana, google Frenchie’s Le Journal which is fast becoming the destination for topics that maybe aren’t covered in sex ed curriculum in school with topics such as ways to include lube into your sex life, performance anxiety, managing body image during sex, fostering desire, what to do if you have STI symptoms, consent, what happens at a sexual health clinic, the benefits of masturbation, and sexual identity.