New Bill Seeks to Improve Delivery of Sexuality Education in High Schools

Claudia Jambor
Education Reporter
YMCA Youth Press Gallery

Melbourne Girls College
Left to right: Maika Dakotah, Alice, Kay & Catherine

A team of Melbourne Girl’s College students have drafted a bill for the YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament proposing shared delivery of sexuality education in Victorian secondary schools between teachers and a subordinate body of specialised educators.

Specifically, the Youth Sexual Health Co-Operative would consist of specialised educators to teach compulsory, once a semester classes in all secondary schools to discuss issues allegedly overlooked in the sexuality education classroom, including misogyny and homophobia.

MGC student Kay Gavas, year 11, said her team’s bill doesn’t intend to change the curriculum but improve its delivery to educate students on more than “where your fallopian tubes are”.

“We just think it needs a bit of an update, and certain topics need to be focused on and the delivery of it is our main goal. We think that every day teachers just aren’t the right people to deliver it and that’s what we are aiming to fix.”

Miss Gavas said sharing the delivery of sexuality education with specialised educators, who won’t be “writing their reports”, will create a more comfortable environment for students to discuss their sexuality.

Politics teacher Patrice McCarthy, of MGC, welcomed the idea of a shared delivery of sexuality education and expressed the difficulties for teachers to adequately educate on the subject.

“I think that teachers in schools would be really glad for a bit more guidance and help with implementing a program,

“I can’t imagine talking about sexual health when sex is such a big part of most people’s life and it has been such a big part of my life. I’d have to completely distance myself and the students from personal experiences, it would be a bit artificial.”

However, 86 percent of secondary school students receive sex education at school, according to latest National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health.

Debbie Ollis, a Statistic Senior Education Lecturer at Deakin University, said professional training collaborations between teachers, staff and specialised training agencies is “absolutely critical” for any sexuality education program to work effectively.

“There’s no point in having an agency come in, do a program, leave. All the research shows that that does not work”.

Dr Ollis said a sustainable and effective approach to sexuality education must go beyond “what goes on in the sexuality classroom” to the whole school in working to create “a positive and supportive sense about diversity” regarding sexuality.