Generation Y is unhappy with Australia’s current sexual education system, or lack thereof.
Perhaps, for you, the term ‘Sex Ed’ conjures images of a science room filled with awkward laughter, a condom rolling over a banana, or an old AV set projecting a video about the risk of STDs, commentated by a thick American accent. In this writer’s case, my school based sex education did not stem further than the sperm-plus-ovum-equals-baby covered in Human Biology, as I live in a state where sexual education classes are not mandatory. I knew the vas deferens from the fallopian tube, which at the time just sounded like some underground punk bands, but the clinical focus on anatomy and abstinence was not hugely enlightening.
Three quarters of young women share this sentiment, a national survey has found, all of who claim that their sexual education left them unprepared to tackle both sex and relationships. As a result of this, a number of adult sex education initiatives have popped up around the country, created for and by those who crave information from a broader reservoir than Dolly Doctor.
Vanessa Muradian, sexologist and yoga teacher extraordinaire, is one such pioneer whose ‘Pleasure 101’ class aims to empower and educate its students about sex positivity and wellness. Covering topics such as communication and consent, non-goal-oriented intercourse, and gender inequality, this class boasts a syllabus far more inclusive than any curriculum run course. Given that 63% of young women and girls received no education on sexual consent in school, its no wonder that these educational spaces are gaining traction.
A common aim for these classes, as well as resource-laden website such as OMGYes, is to shift the focus of sex education from procreation to pleasure. Said change allows for a taboo-free exploration of sex for enjoyment by people of all sexualities and gender identities, which really shouldn’t be something we have still to rally for in 2016.
There is a staggering silence in school based education regarding sexual experiences of those who are not cisgendered heterosexual partners, in fact, 90% of the aforementioned survey group were not taught about LGBTIQ+ intercourse or relationships at all. This omission is not only hugely alienating, but leaves an immense proportion of youths without the knowledge of how to stay physically and emotionally safe during sex.
The ramifications of exclusive education become all too clear when we consider the fact that teenagers account for a quarter of all chlamydia and gonorrhoea cases in WA. The numbers can’t lie – the kids aren’t alright.
Thankfully, the rising discourse around these issues has put pressure on the school system to properly equip students with information on all facets of sex and intimacy. This year will see the introduction of compulsory ‘respectful relationship’ classes in all Victorian government schools, which seek to transform the way students view relationships with both themselves and others. Dr Debbie Ollis, senior education lecturer at Deakin University, is confident that providing these new resources about gender construction, relationship dynamics, and self worth is a strong step in the right direction.
Not dissimilarly, La Trobe University’s Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society has released a government-funded resource aimed at secondary students, covering the depths of sexual education not currently covered by curriculum.
The push to create safe spaces for students, which normalise the free discussion of sex, will not only allow them to make informed decisions to keep themselves physically safe in relationships, but will give them the essential communication skills to prepare them emotionally. Empowering youths to become confident and in control of their bodies is vital in a progressive society; as our sexual culture changes so too must our education. The sealed section of Girlfriend just isn’t going to cut it, its time to fill the gap.
Gleeson, Hayley. “The Rise Of Sex Education For Adults”. ABC News. N.p., 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.
“OMGYES.Com – An Entirely New Way To Explore Women’s Pleasure.”. OMGYes. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.
The Practical Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.
Raggatt, Matthew. “Sex Education Failing Women As Survey Finds Consent And Pleasure Unspoken Of In Schools”. Canberra Times. N.p., 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.
Trigger, Rebecca. “Better Sex Education Training Needed, WA Researcher Says”. ABC News. N.p., 2014. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.
Young Women’s Advisory Group,. Let’s Talk Final Report. 2016. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.