Teaching About Gender And Sexuality

  • Teaching About Gender And Sexuality

In article seven of his series of 12, Justin Hancock of DO… explains how to deliver SRE that benefits all genders and sexualities.

From an early age, we learn the rules about what society says is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ when it comes to gender and sexuality – messages like:

There are only men and women
Men and women are opposites, and there are specifically ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ traits that men and women should follow
Men and women are only attracted to each other (the ‘opposite’ sex)
Our bodies have to fit in with the gender we are given by society

The problem with these rules is that:

If we break them we can face major repercussions (like bullying, harassment or violence)
The two genders are unequal (for instance, men often get status for having sex, whereas women can get stigmatised)
They leave some people out (eg trans, non-binary, or lesbian, gay and bisexual people)
Other aspects of our identity can make it difficult to follow these rules (eg race, disability, class, age, personality)

The powerful rules and expectations placed on us mean that many of us don’t feel OK about our own gender or sexuality – even if our gender or sexual identity are included – because the expectations are both impossible to live up to and deeply unfair.

Take-home message

Sex and relationships education needs to be able to address the harmful rules around gender and sexuality that society expects us to follow. However, we need to do this in a way that feels relevant to every student in the class: this will help everyone see how gender and sexuality is something we can all struggle with.

Clearly, sex and relationships education needs to address these rules of gender and sexuality. However, often the way this topic is taught in SRE is to have an ‘add on’ gender and LGBT lesson.

We’ve specifically created an SRE programme that isn’t just for heterosexual people: this is shown through how ‘sex’ is defined in the lessons, the language that’s used and the stories in the real-life scenarios in the final lesson plan.

We’ve made this easier for you to deliver with our comprehensive teacher notes and clear links to useful resources. In addition, lesson two of the programme invites students to take part in an innovative, creative and interactive workshop.

By thinking about society’s gendered stereotypes and rules, and completing activities that encourage discussion, students can critically consider gender, how it’s constructed, and how the expectations of gender overlap with sexuality.

By doing this, we hope that we’ve made the topic of gender and sexuality something that’s relevant to every student
in the class.

Take-home message
Many of us struggle with the expectations placed on us around gender and sexuality. By talking about this with each other, we can find ways to make dealing with these expectations easier, find common ground and support each other.

For resources and support to make great SRE happen in your school, visit dosreforschools.com.

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