Same-sex attraction and gender diversity (SSAGD)

Approximately 10% of the population is same-sex attracted, gender diverse or intersex. Students in any one class may be heterosexual,  gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, transgender, genderqueer, intersex or one of many other sex, gender or sexuality minorities. Or the students may have parents, family friends or other relatives who belong to a sexuality, sex or gender minority.

Historically sexuality education has erased the identities, experiences and needs of these people yet it is the one class where it is essential that students see themselves or their loved ones represented.

Traditionally classes on anatomy teach that babies are born with either a penis, testicles and scrotum or a vulva, vagina, uterus and ovaries. They are told that being born with one or the other makes them male or female.

However, between 1-2% of the population is born with some form of sexual ambiguity and has been diagnosed with one of more than a dozen intersex conditions. In fact, sex is not a binary but a spectrum with a majority of  people displaying consistency between their chromosomes, hormones and genitals while others do not.

This information needs to be presented in sexuality education classes to ensure that intersex students do not feel shame, embarrassment or stigma about their bodies. In the early years it is presented quite simply with more nuanced conversations in senior years.

The same is necessary for the presentation of same-sex attraction or gender diversity. In early years it may be reflecting the fact that some children live in households with same-sex parents or that 'boys' and 'girls' are not defined by the hobbies they enjoy or the clothes that they wear. In later years a range of identities need to be discussed with students.

Comprehensive sexuality education for the majority has been proven to delay first sexual experiences, decrease unintended pregnancies, decrease the incidence of sexually transmissible diseases and decrease incidences of sexual assault in young people.  

Yet recent studies show that same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people are at higher risk in all categories than heterosexual young people. This has been attributed in part to the lack of relevant sexuality education for these students.

'There is evidence that sexual health classes in schools often ignore the needs of SSAGQ youth ... from these findings it is clear that quite conservative messages emphasizing heterosexual sex and danger are the norm in most Australian schools with a far smaller number providing critical messages inclusive of SSAGQ youth.'

Unique Sexuality Education intends to partner with schools and other supportive adults to change the outcomes for SSAGD students and ensure that they have the same visibility and  access to relevant information as other students.