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Schools Must Improve Sexuality Education

MEDIA RELEASE

Schools Must Improve Sexuality Education

(EMBARGOED UNTIL: Friday August 24)

The Education Review Office has reported on its evaluation of how well sexuality education is being taught in state schools and found that the majority of programmes are not as effective as they should be.

“Schools need to be more innovative by establishing student-led Diversity Groups to help make sexuality education more effective,” says Nathan Brown from OUT THERE!, an organisation that aims to create safe communities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

Diversity Groups are set up by students, straight and gay, with support from the school, to address homophobia and affirm sexuality and gender diversity in the school. Nayland College in Nelson and Thames High School are two examples of schools running successful Diversity Groups.

The ERO report confirms the need for schools to be proactive about tackling homophobic language and affirming diversity to create learning environments that are safe for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, says Mr Brown.

“We need to build a society that is able to discuss sexuality openly with young people, not one that tries to hide it from young people, which only fosters ignorance and fear.

“The report also found that just over 60% of the schools evaluated use outside sexuality education providers. It also mentions OUT THERE’s long-held concern that some church-approved providers avoid, gloss over, or mislead students in some areas like contraception and sexual orientation.

“A number of New Zealand studies, such as the Youth 2000 Survey, have shown that 7-10% of young people in schools do not identify as heterosexual. Studies have also found these students are often severely affected by negative attitudes towards sexual diversity that give rise to homophobic bullying,” Mr Brown concludes.

ENDS

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