Sexuality education symposium at UC

On 15-16 March internationally leading sexuality education researchers and local youth workers are convening at UC to engage with the public to consider what else sexuality education could become at State of the Art: New Directions in Sexuality Education/ Current Social Science Theories In Practice Symposium.

Panel presentations and interactive workshops will draw on cutting edge international and Australasian research and local initiatives to explore directions in sexuality education that can better equip diverse young people to engage meaningfully with both the pleasures and challenges of crafting intimate relationships in today’s world.

Topics include:

  • Sexuality Education Beyond the Classroom and Beyond Intervention: Lessons from The Beyond Bullying Project (Panel Presentation)
  • Engaging with diversity in sexuality education – new material and posthumanist provocations  (Professor Louisa Allan and Associate Professor Kathleen Quinlivan)
  • What do unicorns have to do with gender? How can research better inform practice to support gender diverse young people and their families? (Dr Sue Bagshaw)

What more can sexuality and relationships education become in an era of consumption and digital technologies?

Sexuality and relationships education is paradoxically both everywhere and nowhere in today’s world. A  lot of anxiety, and sometimes panic, surrounds learning about sexualities and relationships both within and outside schools.

Research shows that school based sexuality education programmes struggle to engage with contemporary sexualities and relationships issues with children and young people.

As a subject, sexuality education sits somewhat uncomfortably within schools. Programmes are under-resourced and under-valued and research shows that the curriculum struggles to make itself relevant and meaningful to young people in terms of their lived experiences of negotiating intimate relationships and pleasure in a digital world.

Young people feel frustrated with the emphasis on the biological aspects of sexuality, and  want to learn more about gender diversity, violence in relationships, intimacy, sexual pleasure and love.

Parents too, feel out of their depth with knowing how best to educate their children and young people about sexuality and relationships in an era of consumption and digital technologies.

Once framed as private, sexualities, relationships and gender politics are everywhere. Programmes such as Married at First Sight show adults negotiating the complexities of intimate relationships, including in some cases, relationships as commodities to be ‘shopped for’.

Campaigns such as #metoo are in response to sexual harassment (although not without consequences for some young women). Campaigns for sexual and gender diversity call into question heterosexuality and gender normalcy.

In an era of social and digital media, it’s not surprising to see diverse young people are increasingly taking sexuality education into their own hands. Sexting has increased amongst teens  in recent years, largely as a consensual activity, it occurs primarily  within the contexts of an intimate relationship.

However a recent Australian survey shows that  young women aged 18-19 in digital spaces are  more likely to be on the receiving end of degrading comments about gender, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances.

Rather than criminalise sexting, and telling young people not to do it, sexuality education researchers suggest that sexuality education needs to focus more on helping young people to imagine and participate in conversations related to sexualities and relationships both within and outside school.

For more information about speakers and topics, and to register, please click here.