As Australian students prepare to begin their 2021 school year, a University of Southern Queensland academic has provided significant recommendations for schools around the need for sexuality education that is inclusive of students with intersex variations.
As Australian students prepare to begin their 2021 school year, a University of Southern Queensland academic has provided significant recommendations for schools around the need for sexuality education that is inclusive of students with intersex variations.

‘Critical’: City academic advocates for bullied intersex students

The number of students with intersex variations in our schools is as common as someone being born with red hair.

It’s not a rarity, nor is it widely unheard of.

So why are these students some of the most violently oppressed and excluded in the classroom?

That’s what a local academic is trying to get to the bottom of.

The University of Southern Queensland’s Dr Annette Brömdal has released a paper advocating for city students with intersex variations, and her research is set to revolutionise learning in local classrooms.

Dr Brömdal has provided recommendations for local schools relating to the need for sexuality education which is inclusive of students with intersex variations.

She said the rate of bullying and violence in the schoolyard was higher for students with intersex variations.

Dr Annette Bromdal (centre) with Professor Barbara de la Harpe, and Professor Peter Terry
Dr Annette Bromdal (centre) with Professor Barbara de la Harpe, and Professor Peter Terry

“This is especially so when their stature, pubertal experience or other elements of bodily appearance do not conform to conventional gender expression, puberty or binary notions of sex characteristics associated with male or female bodies, and this can lead to severe psychological problems,” she said.

Dr Brömdal said schools often neglect to engage with contemporary, inclusive content about intersex variations, especially during sex education lessons.

Modern school curriculums often don’t promote a positive, and diverse understanding about people with intersex variations, and their experiences.

But Dr Brömdal developed a Strategic Framework to assist all levels of school staff, from principals to administration, to implement a whole-school approach to ensuring students with intersex variations experience an inclusive, affirming, visible and supportive sexuality education.

She said it’s absolutely vital that young people born with intersex variations feel visible and supported at all levels in the school.

“Navigating puberty and high school is hard enough, and we know that if intersex students are not properly recognised there are numerous consequences, including poor mental health, lower rates of school attendance, poorer academic achievement that often results in poorer employment opportunities, and increased rates of suicide,” she said.

“In Australia, Victoria is leading the way in emphasising that the most effective sexuality education programs take a whole-school learning approach which are most effective when developed in consultation with parents and guardians, supported by learning and teaching that is developmentally appropriate.

“From a health and wellbeing perspective, when students feel included, affirmed, visible and supported they are less inclined to experience health and wellbeing issues and more likely to have improved educational outcomes and employment opportunities ensuring that sexuality education is transformative and is valued as a human right”.

To read Dr Brömdal’s inspiring work, visit https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681811.2020.1864726?src=.

Originally published as ‘Critical’: City academic advocates for bullied intersex students


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