When I was at school, Section 28, a law that stated that local authorities “shall not promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” was in place.
Until it was repealed in 2003, schools could not teach students about LGBTQ+-issues, or even acknowledge that homosexuality existed and has been accepted in different cultures throughout history. This was incredibly harmful, and many of the LGBTQ+ people I know and love still face stigma thanks to Section 28.
Things have improved lots since my school days, but most young people are still taught about marriage from a Western Anglo perspective. This just reinforces the message that heterosexual marriage is the ultimate goal – narrow views that I rejected long ago.
When I became a sex educator, I made it my mission to smash the patriarchy, one sexuality and pleasure workshop at a time.
I want my students to know that however they choose to express their sexuality is valid, and to develop values that embrace differing life choices. So when I lead workshops, I teach about the practices and historical facts that my school never did, about pre-colonial cultures with different views on sex, relationships and marriage.
I teach about Native American cultures that understand gender as a continuum and sexuality as fluid and the concept of ‘Two-Spirit’ that defines people who have a traditional third gender identity. It makes my students think critically about the European ideal of fixed and binary identities, and the many cultures that didn’t before colonial rule. As I share these realities with my students, I often see them experience that same affirmation I had.