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A critical discourse analysis of sexuality education in the Australian curriculum

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This article examines the sexuality education component of the national Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education (AC:HPE) with a focus on sexuality education discourses. A critical discourse analysis explored official AC:HPE documents in relation to sexuality education; the sexuality education discourses present within these documents; teacher roles and expectations associated with each discourse; and Australia’s broader social context in relation to education. Findings reveal that the AC:HPE emphasises a teacher-facilitated approach to sexuality education, which contrasts with teacher-centred work dominating the field prior to its release. This approach is in line with recent shifts in education towards strengths-based learning in which students are encouraged to think critically about issues. Despite these emphases, and while the AC:HPE is meant to be used flexibly as a guideline or framework, certain ambiguities within it may leave teachers’ roles open to interpretation and practices therefore unchanged or undisputed.
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Keywords: Australia; Teachers; critical discourse analysis; curriculum; sex education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia 2: Department of Education Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 3, 2019

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