A group of young students from Hoppers Crossing are hoping to improve the way schools in Victoria teach sexual education and address issues on gender identity.
The students have drafted the Comprehensive Sexual Education Act to be debated in this year’s YMCA Youth Parliament.
The Bill isn’t restricted to just teaching students how to put a condom on, but to teach them about gender identity issues too.
“One in ten Victorian people identify as same sex attracted,” said Hoppers Crossing member Jasmine Balla, 16, who hopes the Bill will help LGBTIQ under-18s.
Balla believes at that age, students need to be better educated on their sexual identity, so they don’t resent themselves or each other.
Rachael Pulman, 16, is another member of the Hoppers Crossing group, and has identified as bisexual since she was 13.
“As a result of that I feel there are a heap of myths surrounding same-sex attracted people,” she says. “Even though Victoria mandates that sexual education must be taught in both primary and secondary schools, the quality of the education is poor and inconsistent.”
The Bill would ask that sexual education is taught to students as young as ten, based on a recommendation by the Australian Medical Associatio.
However this would start with pregnancy and sex education before moving onto sexual identity in the student’s teens.
Pulman believes if the Bill were introduced into Victorian legislation, there would be a “domino effect”, reducing both STI infection rates and youth depression over issues like sexuality.
Several pieces of Victorian legislation are based on Bills originally debated in Youth Parliament, including over the counter access to the morning-after pill.
“This program, Youth Parliament, is extremely progressive,” said Pulman, “and I think that it’s amazing that youth get to have a say on what they want.”
The Hoppers Crossing Secondary College team consists of Jasmine Balla, Bradley Bugeja, Leanne Hagan, John Moffitt, Rachel Pulman and Jaileigh Turner. You can follow the progress of the team and their Bill via Facebook here.