When I found out many of my peers were never told how to protect themselves from STIs, how to respect their sexual partners or that those who are same-sex attracted or gender diverse felt left out of the process completely, I felt concerned that they might not be able to make informed decisions about their own bodies. But more than this, I felt angry that they could go thourgh their entire schooling without being given such important information.
As a young, 18 year old, Australian I understand the importance of sex education. While in school I received the basics of sex-ed: This is a condom, these are STIs and girls are allowed to say no. Though it was a good start and came with the best intentions, it wasn't enough. Far more often then I would like, I meet other young people who didn't even get this basic knowledge from their teachers, either looking for information about sex by themselves or finding a partner and working off their assumptions.
The "Let’s Talk About Sex: National Youth Survey" asked 1,219 young Australians between the ages of 15 and 29 about their formal and informal sex education. 85% found information from the Internet while only 69% got information from their school and 64% leant about sex from pornography. More than 80% of these young people thought that sex-ed should be the same in every school.
At the moment the draft of the "Health and Physical Education: Foundation to Year 10" section of the national curriculum is vague enough so that schools could simply sidestep any issues they feel uncomfortable talking about. Sex-Ed is not an issue that we can allow educators to just gloss over. When young people mature they become curious about sex and with an Internet connection they are able to expose themselves to a myriad of websites that talk about it; some accurate, some not, some dangerously misleading. Without a proper education on these matters, how can they be expected to know which is which?
It is every parent's right to educate their child in whatever manner they think is best and I can understand how the thought of giving one’s children "The Talk" would be pretty intimidating. It is my hope that a national sex-ed curriculum would open to door for conversations between young people and their parents, so that carers can always be sure that their children are hearing everything they want them to know.
Putting compulsory, comprehensive sex-ed into the national curriculum is about ensuring that young people get the factual, un-biast information they deserve. It is not about enforcing a particular moral code; it is about creating a community were young people are able to keep themselves safe, happy and healthy.
I ask you to please, please, support this petition. It is about you, it is about your friends, it is about your sons and your daughters and the young people you see walking out of schools when you drive home. Everyone has the right to real sex education. Please make sure the next generation is receiving it.
The current draft of ACARA's "Health and Physical Education:
Foundation to Year 10" section of the Australian Curriculum does not ensure that Australian youth will receive the information they need during their schooling. While touching on issues of "exploring sexual and gender identities", "managing intimate relationships" and "understanding reproduction and sexual health" the vague wording of the draft gives schools permission to avoid talking about important issues if that is their prerogative.
What we want you to do is include within the Australian Curriculum the criteria for a comprehensive sex education which explicitly includes:
-understanding and preventing HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections including methods of barrier protection
-understanding and preventing unwanted pregnancy
-accepting and being respectful of LGBTIQ individuals
-respecting one's sexual partner and what constitutes consent
These changes are not about telling youth what sexual behaviours are right or wrong, it is about keeping the next generation informed, autonomous and safe. We want to ensure that young people are getting the complete education they have the right to receive.