The Arguments for
The Arguments for Sexuality Education
Australia has one of the worst records for teenage
pregnancy in the industrialised world, and a high teen
Knowledge of STI’s is patchy.
Yr 10 boys need better education. One in 4 has had
sex, and 40% oral sex.
By Yr 12 just under 50% have had intercourse.
Young people are reporting relatively high rates of
forced sex, as well as high rates of sex while drunk or
There is no universal provision of sex education
across Australia. It is ad hoc. States have programs of
varying quality and relevance.
Sexual Health Education is a Basic
"Since health is a fundamental human
right, so must sexual health also be a
basic human right"
World Health Organization (cited in Health
Canada, 1994, p7)
Sexual Health Education is Effective in
Preventing Sexual Health Problems
Meta-analyses of school program evaluations
Sex education does not lead to earlier or
increased sexual activity
Baldo (1993),Franklin (1997).
Sex education may delay initiation of sex
Baldo (1993), Kirby (2001).
Sexual Health Education is required in
Catching On was developed by the
Department of Education & Training to
support the implementation of policy on
Victorian Essential Learning Standards
Has sexual health issues woven through a
number of areas
Parents Want Sexual Health Education
Taught in the Schools
A South Australian survey of parents
found 86% wanted schools to teach their
kids about sex.
A decade ago a similar SA survey
showed 80% of parents believed it was
their responsibility, not the school's, to
teach children about sex.
Young people gain and trust Sexual
Health Education Taught in the Schools
Secondary Students and Sexual Health
survey reveals that school programs are
now young people's main source of
information on sex and sexual health.
WhatIs Good Sex
Sexuality Education and the Hidden
Disease-focus – negative and fearful,
dominated by the effects of unplanned
pregnancy and STIs.
Reductionist – sexuality as a range of
sexual and biological functions and
behaviours. Does not include issues like
intimacy, relationships, desire, pleasure
Sexuality Education and the Hidden
Gender constructs – narrow and
conventional female and male roles.
Does not deal with issues of power,
gender construction or transgender.
Heterosexism –the underlying
assumption is that all students are
US $270 mill. for Abstinence-Only-Until-
Pres. Bush has promised double funding of abstinence-only-until-
marriage programs, bringing funding to more than one billion
Reviews of AOUM such as "virginity pledge“ programs delay sex
18 months. However, when they did become sexually active, they
were 1/3 less likely to use contraceptives.
Evaluation of Minnesota's AOUM program found sex among
students doubled between 2001-2002, from 5.8% to 12.4%.
Those who said they might have sex before finishing school
increased from 9.5% to 17%.
From Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
: February 2, 2004
10 Common Characteristics of Good
Sex Education (Kirby 2001)
1. Focus on the behaviours that lead to
unintended pregnancy or HIV/ STI infection;
2. A basis in theories which explain influences
on sexual choices and behaviour;
3. Give a clear message about abstinence and
using condoms/contraception. This appears
to be one of the most important
characteristics of effective programs;
4. Information about the risks of teen sexual
activity, ways to avoid sex, and safe sex;
5. Address social pressures that influence
6. Provide examples of and practice with
communication, negotiation and refusal
7. Use teaching methods that involve
participants and have them personalise the
8. Use goals, teaching methods and materials
that are appropriate to age, sexual experience
and culture of the students;
9. Last sufficient length of time (i.e. more than a
10. Select teachers or peer leaders who believe in
the program and then provide them with
From: Authors: Simon Forrest, Director, Sex Education Forum, UK & Annabel Kanabus, Director, AVERT,
MYTH 1: Sexuality education teaches students how to
Sexuality education includes values, decision-making,
biology, emotions, gender identity, and sexual feelings.[i]
It also presents abstinence, delaying first sex, limiting the
number of partners, and safer sex.
In the Netherlands strategies include sexuality education,
open discussion of human sexuality in the mass media,
easier access to contraceptives, education programs and
active participation of teens and parents in such programs
[i] JH Teach Pkg., Source: Merideth Moore, Saskatchewan Department of Health
[ii] SEICUS, Community Action Kit, Responding to Arguments Against Comprehensive
MYTH 2: Teaching sexuality in school takes it out of being
taught at home.
Various studies have shown that sexuality
education programs result in increased parent-
child communication about sexuality. [ii]
[ii] Alford, S. Parent-Child Communication: Promoting Healthy Youth,
(Advocates for Youth, September 1995)
MYTH 3: Sexuality education leads to increased rates of
sexual behaviour in adolescents.
A WHO literature review concluded there is "no
support for the contention that sex education
encourages experimentation or increased activity. If
any effect is observed, almost without exception, it is
in … postponed initiation of sexual intercourse and/or
effective use of contraceptives."[i]
[i] Grunseit A, Kippax S. Effects of Sex Education on Young People’s
Sexual Behaviour, (Geneva, World Health Organization, 1993) p.10.
MYTH 4: Comprehensive sexual health education doesn't
FACT: Comprehensive Sexual Health Education
Postponement of first sex, one sexual partner and
safer sex are offered as the next best alternatives.[i]
The programs that have been most effective in
helping young people to abstain discuss both
abstinence and contraception.ii]
[i] CRHA Policy Position (1996), Overview of Services, Education, p. A-10-1
[ii] SIECUS, Community Action Kit, Responding to Arguments Against Sexuality
MYTH 5: Condoms are not very effective in preventing
pregnancy and STDs.
Repeated studies show condoms used consistently
and correctly offer a high degree of protection against
pregnancy and STD/AIDS. Using a condom is 10,000
times safer than not using one.
The most common cause for failure is improper or
inconsistent use. That is why including condom
instruction in sexuality education is so important.[i]
[i] SIECUS, Community Action Kit, Responding to Arguments Against Sexuality
MYTH 6: Kids will pick up what they need to know.
Young people constantly pick up sexual messages,
many of them ones that do not promote healthy
commercial messages that are in the interest of
misinformation from their peers.
that there is something wrong about feeling
comfortable about sexuality.
MYTH 7: If you talk to kids about sex they will experiment.
Children who are well informed and comfortable in
talking about sexuality with their parents are the least
likely to have intercourse when they are adolescents.
Lack of information poses greater risks.
Sex education is likely to decrease the number of
Kim (1997),Jemmot and Jemmot (2000)
Sex education increases both the intention to use
condoms, and their actual use
Kim (1997),Franklin (1997), Kirby 2001
MYTH 8: If I don't feel comfortable talking to my students
about sex, it's better to say nothing.
It is quite common to be uncomfortable in talking about
sexuality. However, we should not let this stop us
from educating our students. Talking about facts rather
than values is an effective way to combat
[x] Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, Beyond the Basics: A Sourcebook
on Sexual and Reproductive Health Education, page 21
Disclosure in the classroom
As with any disclosure of a personal issue:
reassure the young person that they are all right
listen patiently and carefully to what the young person
don’t press the student for information.
In addition, teachers need to:
display a positive attitude, thus affirming the students’
explain that they are pleased to be told and are prepared to
help if they can
help the young person to look at the options open to them
put the young person in touch with support services when
Responding to homophobia
Be prepared to respond to anti-gay, anti-lesbian or anti-bisexual
slurs just as you would racist or sexist slurs.
Focus on challenging the negative opinions rather than the
Don’t expect to win or lose. You are there to say things that need
to be said.
Avoid debating religious arguments. Where a person has strongly
held views it may be more productive to discuss sexuality issues
in terms of how the person is feeling.
If students use names such as ‘faggot’, ‘homo’, ‘leso’ possible
responses could include:
I find words like ‘wog’, ‘retard’, ‘fag’ and ‘leso’ offensive (include
words you know that they will find offensive)