Young Victorians have endorsed a proposal for compulsory LGBTQI sex education in the state’s public secondary schools at this month’s YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament.
The program, now in its 33rd year, sees 120 people aged 16 to 25 take to the chambers of Victoria’s Parliament House to present and debate bills they have drafted on issues that are of concern to young people.
Bills that pass in Youth Parliament are given to the relevant Victorian state cabinet minister for consideration.
Since 1987, the program has seen 30 Youth Parliament Bills go on to become Victorian state law, including mandatory wearing of bike helmets, blood alcohol limits for those accompanying learner drivers, and legal recognition for carers of people with disabilities.
The Compulsory LGBTQI+ Sex Education and Staff Awareness Training in Public Secondary Schools Bill was tabled by a team of six students from Bendigo and was passed unanimously in the youth parliament’s Legislative Assembly.
The bill proposes updating the current sexual education curriculum to ensure inclusiveness, so all public secondary school students become informed about all areas of sexual health and relationships.
It also aims to eradicate stigma around LGBTQI issues, and open conversations around sexual health for individuals of different sexual orientations and genders.
Under the bill, staff would also undertake specialist training that covers LGBTQI identity, sexual health, relationships and consent, and the curriculum would be reviewed every five years.
The team believes the bill would be a major step forward in giving all students comprehensive and inclusive health education.
“This bill is ultimately to make sure youth are educated to keep themselves safe through all aspects of sexual health, regardless of gender or sexuality,” team member Annika Ritchie told the Star Observer.
She went on to say her team hoped their proposal would help shape Victorian legislation.
“This is a relevant issue concerning the health and education of our youth that we heavily feel should be adopted by the Victorian Parliament,” Ritchie said.
“An addition of LGBTQI+ education on the current curriculum is the end game, to ensure all students are represented within their health studies.”
The YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament sits annually each July.
Sam Kane is a member of the YMCA Youth Press Gallery.