As I left school two years ago, the traditional sex education that we’d received was only just starting to change. I attended a comprehensive all-girls school and pretty much all throughout my time there, sex education was based on either how not to get pregnant and how not to get an STI. A few months before leaving I attended a workshop on sexual consent however this was the first time in my 7 years there that word 'consent' was even mentioned.
It seems that students are taught about the science but complex issues surrounding sexuality and gender inequality are rarely touched upon, as seen in a survey by the Terrence Higgins Trust that showed almost 75% of pupils are not taught about consent.
Schools in Australia are changing the traditional sex education curriculum, with all schools in the state of Victoria set to introduce a ‘respectful relationship’ curriculum that will teach students about male privilege and social inequality.
Sex education is typically aimed those in secondary school, however this new programme is also set to be introduced into primary schools. From a young age, children will be shown images of both boys and girls playing sport, doing housework and working in gender stereotyped job roles such as receptionists and firefighters.
In secondary schools the curriculum will progress to teaching pupils about male privilege and sexuality including pansexuality and transsexuality. Older students will also be encouraged to examine the issue of hegemonic masculinity which looks at why boys and men feel pressured into acting ‘heterosexual, tough, athletic and emotionless’.
The programme has been criticised by some including Jeremy Sammut, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, who labelled it a ‘taxpayer-funded indoctrination’ of children.
However Education Minister James Merlino, speaking to the BBC, has said that this new curriculum will be vital in ending the ‘vicious cycle’ of family violence.
‘This is about teaching our kids to treat everyone with respect and dignity so we can start the cultural change we need in our society to end the scourge of family violence.’
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.