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Sexuality Education

Sexuality, a lifelong process, provides students with the knowledge, understanding, and skills to develop positive attitudes towards sexuality, to take care of their sexual health, and to enhance their interpersonal relationships, now and in the future.

In this curriculum, the term "sexuality education" includes relevant aspects of the concept of hauora, the process of health promotion, and the socio-ecological perspective.

The term "sex education" generally refers only to the physical dimension of sexuality education.

Students will consider how the physical, social, mental and emotional, and spiritual dimensions of sexuality influence their well-being.

Through the socio-ecological perspective, students will critically examine the social and cultural influences that shape the ways people learn about and express their sexuality, for example, in relation to gender roles, the concept of body image, discrimination, equity, the media, culturally based values and beliefs, and the law.

Sexuality education is enhanced when supportive school policies and practices are developed, links with relevant community agencies are made, and students are helped to identify and access support.

Students need developmentally appropriate learning opportunities in sexuality education.

These include opportunities to develop knowledge, understandings, and skills relating to sexual development – physical, emotional, and social. 

Focus can be on skills that:

  • enhance their sexual and reproductive health
  • provide knowledge about the process of conception and how to maintain and enhance their sexual health
  • understandings and skills to enhance relationships, for example, in relation to friendship, love, families, and parenting
  • build personal and interpersonal skills and mindsets, such as:
    • skills needed to examine people's attitudes, values, and beliefs and their rights and responsibilities
    • attitudes of respect for themselves and other people
    • attitudes of care and concern for themselves and other people
    • effective communication skills
    • problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Programmes for the prevention of sexual abuse are an important part of health education.

However, these must be balanced at all levels by separate sexuality education programmes that emphasise the positive aspects of sexuality.

To ensure that students do not receive confusing or mixed messages, these two programmes should not be taught concurrently or consecutively.

Classroom programmes must be sensitively developed so that they respect the diverse values and beliefs of students and of the community.

Relationships and Sexuality Education

A revised Sexuality Education: A guide for principals, boards of trustees, and teachers (2015).

The 2020 resource will assist boards of trustees, principals, and teachers in all New Zealand state and state-integrated schools to comply with the requirements of the Education and Training Act 2020 to consult with the school community on the way in which the health curriculum should be implemented.

Legislative Provisions for Sexuality Education in Schools

The Education Standards Act 2001 repealed sections 105C and 105D of the Education Act 1964. School boards of every state school must now implement the health curriculum in accordance with section 60B of the Education Act. Previously, schools had an option to exclude the sexuality education components of the curriculum.

As outlined on page 53, at least once every two years the school board is required to prepare a draft statement about the delivery of the health curriculum and then to consult the school community before the school adopts the statement.

The statement will include a clear description of the way in which the school will implement sexuality education.