Australian activists criticise draft sex education curriculum for failing to mention anti-gay bullying and HIV

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A draft national curriculum which fails to include information on challenging homophobic bullying and sexually transmitted infections has been criticised by campaigners in Australia.

Sexual health advocates say it’s a “dreadful attempt” at teaching sexual health in Australian high schools.

The curriculum, developed by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), will guide how schools teach sex education, replacing the existing New South Wales-specific syllabus.

But campaigners fear sex education has been watered down in the process.

The chief executive of Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS, Alischa Ross, said the curriculum had made “a dreadful attempt” at including sexual health issues amid rising HIV infection rates in Australia.

“There is an extraordinary emphasis on movement and physical activity and very little in that personal, social and community health strand,” she said.

While the curriculum did cover “sexual health”, the Sydney Morning Herald reports it provided little detail as to the specifics.

The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby was alarmed that a reference to homophobia in an earlier draft had been removed.

“That’s really disappointing because it represents backsliding,” policy and project officer Jed Horner said.

However, the ACARA claimed the reference to homophobia was removed in favour of incorporating all discrimination into one topic.

A spokesperson said: “The curriculum provides for all students to learn about the negative impacts of all forms of discrimination and encourages the teaching of health and physical education to be inclusive and relevant to students of all sexual orientations.”