A national study has found over 80 per cent of Australian parents support the teaching of gender and sexuality diversity in schools, as part of relationships and sexual health education.
The study, the first of its kind in Australia, surveyed 2000 parents of public-school children from Kindergarten to Year 12.
The research found 94 per cent of parents want Relationships and Sexuality Education delivered in government schools.
And 82 per cent of parents support the curriculum inclusion of gender and sexuality diversity topics for all school students, from kindergarten to Year 12.
A majority of the parents want to see gender and sexuality diversity introduced in the curriculum in primary school and the early years of high school.
And a majority of participants supported involvement of parents, schools and teachers in Relationships and Sexuality Education.
Study is first in Australia to ask parents on the issue
Western Sydney University Associate Professors Jacqueline Ullman and Tania Ferfolja conducted the study, published in journal Sex Education.
“[The study] is the first nationwide and representative research of parents of school-aged children on this subject,” Associate Professor Ferfolja said.
“The findings show Australian parents largely support the teaching of sexuality and gender diversity in schools.
“Most are comfortable about relationships and health education reflecting the spectrum of human sexuality and gender.”
Associate Professor Ullman said the majority of parents rated the inclusive content as of high or moderate importance.
“Sexual health, safety and wellbeing were similarly ranked,” she said.
Ullman explained there were implications for teachers in the research.
“A recent Australian study of high-school sex education teachers found gender and sexuality diversity was the subject they were least comfortable teaching,” she said.
“Nearly two-thirds said they were careful around the topic due to possible adverse community reaction.
“Teachers would clearly benefit from more support to feel confident that discussing these topics is in line with the views of the majority of today’s parents.
“Our research findings support this.”
One Nation’s defunct anti-trans education bill ‘completely flawed’
Associate Professors Ullman and Ferfolja said their research surveyed as broad a representation of the Australian population as possible.
Participating parents came from a variety of religions, cultural backgrounds and education levels.
Latham’s bill sought to ban discussion of gender diversity in schools and prohibit recognition of transgender students.
“Our research demonstrates the premise behind One Nation’s bill is completely flawed,” Associate Professor Ullman said.
“Australian parents want their children to be taught more, not less, about relationships and sexuality education reflecting the full spectrum of human sexuality and gender.”
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