Sexual education act to help prevent homophobia passes

Ellan van der Heide telling her personal story to the chamber. Photo - Finbar O'Mallon
Ellan van der Heide telling her personal story to the chamber.
Photo – Finbar O’Mallon

In the Youth Parliament Legislative Assembly, both sides quoted facts and told anecdotes, as the Hopper’s Crossing team successfully passed its Comprehensive Sexual Education Act (CSEA).

The Bill calls for students to start being taught sexual education as soon as year 5, with a focus not just on sexual health but teachings on sexual identity too.

Ellan van der Heide, from opposition, told the chamber she had been abused in high school when she came out as gay.

“I used to walk through a corridor and get called gay, fag, lezzo,” she said, and argued the Bill would help reduce these instances.

The refuter team Pascoe Vale, said whilst homophobia is regrettable, “It has nothing to do with sexual education”.

One in ten children in Australia are same-sex attracted, with 61% of students undergoing physical or verbal abuse because of their sexuality.

The refuter team, Pascoe Vale, argued the CSEA would take away the innocence of a child.

Members in the Government, who were refuting the Bill, told the opposition ten-year olds were not old enough to be taught sexual education before members began to giggle.

The refuters also quoted a LaTrobe University study which revealed teenagers were having sex less but sexting more, removing the necessity to comprehensively teach sexual health.

Whilst the Opposition side, which sponsored the Bill, did present facts on Australia’s climbing STI rates; the information on LGBTIQ students seemed to have most effect.

At the close of the debate, an amendment presented by the Pascoe Vale team to cease teaching sexual education after year 10 narrowly made it through: 27 for, 25 against.

They said VCE studies would be stressful enough on students without having to also undergo compulsory sexual education classes in years 11 and 12.

The CSEA, with amendments, passed Youth Parliament on Tuesday and will be presented to relevant ministers in the Victorian government.

by Finbar O’Mallon

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