Questions parents ask

Can children be withdrawn from lessons?

A parent or guardian may request that a child be exempt from any class. This request needs to be in writing to the school principal. (Section 72 of the School Education Act 1999) 

If exemption is granted, principals are expected to make reasonable efforts to provide alternative means for exempted students to achieve the same outcomes as other students.

For further information, please refer to the Exemption from Particular Classes Guidelines from the WA Department of Education.

GDHR recognises parents as the primary relationships and sexuality educators of their children. If parents remove their child from school-based lessons it is vital that they ensure their child has access to accurate and reliable health information and the skills and attitudes to make informed choices. Talk Soon. Talk Often. A guide for parents talking to their kids about sex is a free resource that offers age and stage appropriate tips for parents with children aged 0 to 18 years.

Research indicates that the majority of parents support the provision of relationships and sexuality education at school but want to be informed when it is happening to support and complement the program. It is strongly recommended that schools communicate clearly with parents about the nature and content of health-related programs, including relationship and sexual health education. This could be, for example, through:

  • the school council agenda,

  • a school relationships and sexuality education policy

  • newsletters

  • parent workshops or information evenings

  • a letter from the teacher/school (Sample parent letters: primary and secondary).

Can condoms be given out to high school students?

  • The Growing and Developing Healthy Relationships curriculum support material reflects a philosophy where abstinence from sexual activity for school-aged students is the key focus. It also emphasises a positive preventative approach, harm reduction and safer sex strategies without necessarily normalising sexual activity for school-aged students. Where appropriate, condoms may be used during a health education lesson on contraception. It is not, however, the school's role to distribute condoms to students.

  • The Department of Education does not support the installation of condom vending machines in secondary schools.

  • Secondary school students have access to school health nurses who can provide developmentally appropriate information on sexual health, including contraception. If appropriate, students may be referred to relevant health services.

  • Health and Physical Education provides students with the skills and knowledge required to develop and maintain respectful relationships. It develops students' abilities to make informed and responsible decisions about health and well-being for themselves and others; and develops the skills needed to make informed decisions in a range of contexts, including relationships and sexuality education.

 

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Do teachers need to inform parents they are implementing relationships/sexual health education with their class?

It is strongly recommended that teachers/schools communicate clearly with parents and caregivers about the nature and content of health-related programs, including relationship and sexual health education. This could be, for example, through:

 

​​​​​​​Research indicates that the majority of parents support the provision of sexuality education at school but want to be informed when it is happening to support and complement the program.

Under Section 72 of the School Education Act 1999, a parent or guardian may request that a child be exempt from any class. This request needs to be in writing to the school principal. If exemption is granted, principals are expected to make reasonable efforts to provide alternative means for exempted students to achieve the same outcomes as other students. For further information, please refer to the Exemption from Particular Classes Guidelines from the WA Department of Education.

Should boys and girls be separated for puberty and sexual health education?

Many teachers wonder if it is best to split their classes by gender for relationships and sexuality lessons. There are pros and cons to be considered for both.

Reasons for co-ed classes

  • Separating boys and girls can perpetuate the stigma of the topic.

  • Gender-split classes may result in genders receiving inequitable or gender-biased education.

  • Students who are gender diverse are better catered for (students who are gender diverse may feel uncomfortable, unsafe or uncatered for in split classes).

  • Same-sex attracted young people are better catered for (students who are same-sex attracted may feel uncomfortable, unsafe or uncatered for in split classes).

  • Students may act in a more mature manner (in gender-split classes students may feel the need to act in stereotypical gendered roles).

  • Opportunities to learn about topics from different perspectives from different genders.

  • Opportunities to develop empathy for the changes and challenges experienced by another gender.

  • Opportunities to practise communicating with each other about sensitive topics (which is an important skill for developing respectful relationships with other genders - friendships, romantic relationships and intimate relationships).

  • Timetabling of gender-split classes can be difficult.

 

Reasons for splitting classes by gender

  • Young people may feel more comfortable asking questions (particularly on topics such as menstruation, erections, wet dreams, female genital modification, sex).

  • It may be more culturally appropriate (e.g. In Aboriginal culture there are requirements for delivering 'men's business' and 'women's business'.)

  • Lessons may be differentiated more easily to suit the needs and learning styles of all boy or all girl groups.

  • Some parents may be more supportive of teaching boys and girls separately.

  • Differing maturity levels of boys and girls can be accommodated for.

 

Teachers and schools are best placed to determine the needs of their students.

If you choose to conduct co-ed classes:

  • offer opportunities for gender split groups (e.g. a 'girls' chat' or 'boys' chat' at lunch time; or small group work with the school nurse)

  • offer instruction taught by both male and female educators to provide positive role models and reduce stigma (if culturally appropriate)

  • allow students to ask questions they may not be comfortable asking in front of the class by using a question box.

If you choose to conduct gender-split classes:

  • do not just teach the 'girls' topics' to the girls and 'boys' topics' to the boys - both need to know all of the information

  • ensure that both groups know that they are both receiving the same information

  • offer instruction taught by both male and female educators to provide positive role models and reduce stigma (if culturally appropriate)

  • think about ways to cater for gender diverse students (and be aware that gender diverse or intersex students may not be visible to you). It may be appropriate to ask students to choose which group they feel comfortable in, or this may cause more stress and discrimination for the student.

  • share questions (and answers) from the question box with both groups so that everyone has the same information. (Collect questions from both groups to answer in the next session to help maintain anonymity and avoid questions being labelled as 'boys' questions' or 'girls' questions'.)

What resources are available for students and parents who home school?

Useful resources are the ‘Puberty’ series -  Girls and Boys in Puberty.  A good approach is to have boys learn about what also happens for girls (and vice versa). The Relationships, Sex and Other Stuff booklet is for teenagers (13 years or older). 

The comprehensive publication Talk Soon. Talk Often. A Guide for Parents Talking to their Kids About Sex aims to increase the confidence of parents when talking to their children about relationship and sexuality topics.

Some other organisations that offer free or low cost resources include:

Sexual Health Quarters 

SECCA (resources to support people with disabilities)

Freedom Centre (resources to support LGBTI young people)

 

Why is there more than one needle for the HPV vaccine?

The current HPV vaccine (Gardasil9) is 2 doses (2 needles) which protects against 9 strains of the HPV virus. The previous HPV vaccine (Gardasil) had 3 doses (3 needles) and protected against 4 strains of the virus. All doses of the vaccine are needed for best protection against HPV and the only way to obtain its full benefits and protection.

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