GAY KIDS IN NEED
Report on the sexual health of
Victorian students finds one in ten is gay and suffering
About one in 10 Victorian secondary school students is
same-sex attracted, and most gay and lesbian students suffer
discrimination and sexual, mental and emotional health problems, a
report released this week reveals.
The report, a collaborative effort between the Royal
Women’s Hospital, Family Planning Victoria and the Centre for Adolescent
Health, found same-sex-attracted youth commonly experienced negative
effects of homophobia.
The report found this could be a reason for higher
rates of poor health outcomes in same-sex-attracted young people, such
as emotional and mental disorder.
The report focused mainly on STIs, teenage pregnancy
and the sexual health and education of Victorian secondary school
students and young people aged between 12 and 25.
It recommended a number of outcomes, including a
complete audit of current education programs, an audit of teachers who
were involved in teaching sex education classes, and setting minimum
standards for sex ed classes.
A spokesperson for Victorian Health minister Bronwyn
Pike, who launched the study on Tuesday, said both she and Education
minister Jacinta Allen would seriously consider a broad sexuality-based
program across the state which included information specific to gay and
“Both ministers are on the record as being very
supportive of gay and lesbian issues,” the spokesperson said.
“So where there are recommendations that would help
gay and lesbian students and young people in the community, those will
of course be taken seriously.”
The minister called for an concerted education
campaign: “Young people need to be confident about the decisions they
make with their bodies, and thoroughly educating them is proving to be
the best way of achieving that,” Pike said in a statement.
Professor Susan Sawyer, director of the Centre for
Adolescent Health Royal Children’s Hospital, said the report highlighted
the need to listen to young people about their own needs.
“Schools are a very potent opportunity to provide an
intervention to improve young people’s health,” she said.
“When we hear from young people that they value
education programs, we need to sit up and listen.”
The report, the first of its kind in Australia, also
revealed gay young men were among the highest risk group for sexually
Young people’s knowledge of HIV transmission had
decreased over the last 10 years, but knowledge of hepatitis A, B and C,
although still poor, had improved since 1997.
The report advocated a review of health services for
all youth to easily access sexual health information without fear of
recrimination and breach of confidentiality.
Other recommendations included the formation of a
ministerial advisory committee to develop a strategy to improve the
sexual health outcomes of teenagers.
10 November 2005