‘It is not all about sex’: young people’s views about sexuality and relationships education

Case Studies & Research
University of South Australia
56 p.

The Engaging Young People in Sexuality Education (EYPSE) research project lead by Emeritus Professor Bruce Johnson addresses two questions: What are young people’s views on school-based sexuality and relationships education? In what ways could sexuality and relationships education be improved? The report focuses on findings from the first stage of the research project, consisting of an online survey of over 2,000 students in 31 secondary schools in South Australia and Victoria. The research was conducted in government secondary schools in South Australia (14) and Victoria (17). A detailed online survey was constructed and administered to students aged 13 to 16+ years old. The survey used similar terminology and language to that used in sexuality and relationships education classes. Summary of Findings: School-based sexuality and relationships education programs were a significantly used and trusted source of information for the majority of students in this study. However, students offered a number of suggestions to improve sexuality and relationships education. They wanted less repetition of the biological aspects of human sexuality, and more explicit and accurate information about gender diversity, violence in relationships, intimacy, sexual pleasure and love. While a number of students (particularly girls) felt uncomfortable or embarrassed during sexuality and relationships education lessons, many still viewed the lessons to be important and relevant to their present and future lives. The findings of this study clearly show that students want to have some input into what and how they learn in sexuality and relationships education. They highlight the importance of continuing to engage with students about these issues.

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