Schools vary in sexuality lessons

19:30, Jun 12 2014

There is more to teaching the birds and the bees at South Canterbury high schools these days.

In the wake of a group of young Auckland men boasting they were getting underage girls drunk and gang-raping them, and the Marriage Equality Act, the Government acknowledged traditional sex education needed to change.

A Parliament health select committee found sexuality education programmes across the country were fragmented and uneven, and often focused on the physical aspects of sex.

Mountainview High School assistant principal Rowan Milburn said its sexuality education was not just about the physical aspects, but included scenarios which discussed homosexuality and disability within intimate situations.

She is constantly amazed by the students' reactions to the different scenarios raised in the classroom.

"I'm always a bit apprehensive when it comes to teach it. Every time I am blown away by the students' perception of how to deal with it," Milburn said.


She said one scenario talked about Liz, who has two mothers, and how Liz is being bullied for being different.

Without fail the student response was always the same.

"They always say there is no need for that type of behaviour," she said.

Although sexuality education is compulsory up to year 10 in New Zealand, Milburn said it is part of the compulsory curriculum up to year 11 at Mountainview.

It is also offered in year 12 and 13 to students who elect to do physical education.

Milburn said although there was a small discussion surrounding gender and relationships, the environment at Mountainview was accepting.

"I think because we have the unit [for disabled people] at school, our students learn to accept people from all walks of life," she said.

Timaru Girls' High School head of health and physical education Claire O'Neill said homosexuality was also discussed at the school.

"We let the parents [of year 9 and 10 girls] know what is being taught."

She said an important part of the changing focus was teaching students about discrimination from a sexual platform and providing the tools to deal with it.

The Timaru Herald