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Ongoing battle to get sexuality education through

Wed 16 Mar 2011 In: Out Games News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Following a cut in funding for training for the professional development of health education teachers, a passionate Auckland researcher is still finding ways to ensure quality sexuality education is getting through to high school students. Mary-Anne McAllum is taking to training teachers and helping widen their eyes and ears about sexuality and moving beyond heteronormative education before they get into the classrooms. The Auckland University PhD candidate and former teacher today shared findings from her Masters in Health Sciences at the Outgames Human Rights Conference. She focused on the school experiences of a group of young lesbian and bisexual women, particularly what sexuality education, if any, they received. The most extremely incorrect lesson two teenagers raised was being told by a teacher that “if we didn’t save ourselves for marriage we could get AIDS”, something they were still wondering whether was true. Unanswered questions that remained after the ‘education’ were the likes of, “I want to know about the STIs I could get as a lesbian but didn’t have the guts to ask” and “I just wanted to know why I was gay.” McAllum says the health and PE curriculum itself is actually fine, but believes professional development of health teachers in the area of sexuality education is the key. Progress was being made in that area, until the Education Ministry cut funding for health teacher professional development in late-2009. “Even with the [curriculum] in place, so many teachers still make the decisions about the content of their programmes,” McCallum says. “And the focus remains mainly on preventative education, focusing around sexual health.” McAllum says the focus on reproductive sex and anatomy means issues of identity are ignored. “The young women in my study found that the teaching that they received bore very little or absolutely no relevance to them as lesbians or bisexuals.”   One student recalled asking a teacher what someone she should do if she thought they were gay and was told “go to a counsellor”. “Sexual identity may be ignored or glossed over by an occasional reference,” McAllum says. The researcher is currently seeking out bisexual women aged from 16-24 for her PhD study, as she says there is a huge gap in research on young bi women. Participation will be made up of focus groups, journals and semi-structured individual interviews. Anyone who wants to get involved can email or text 0276206200. The Wellington AsiaPacific Outgames will end with a massive Revolution party at Estadio on Saturday night and has two double passes to give away! To enter just email telling us the best thing you have overheard at the games, for our Overheard at the Outgames file! Daily News staff - 16th March 2011

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 16th March 2011 - 1:43pm

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