Introducing #FEAS Cite Club
by Kate Marston, GEA Social Media Intern
The first rule of Cite Club is: You do talk about Cite Club! Feminist Educators Against Sexism (#FEAS) are an Australian-based, international feminist collective committed to developing interventions into sexism in the academy and other educational spaces. One of their most recent interventions is Cite Club, an e-mail group where #FEAS members send their works to one another and cite one another where possible.
#FEAS Cite Club is inspired by Sara Ahmed’s (2013) call to be mindful of ‘who appears’ within feminist work, to not necessarily go to male theorists to understand women’s diverse lives but to cite feminist work to do so. Cite Club is also inspired by the Citational Practices Challenge issued by Eve Tuck, K. Wayne Yang and Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández (2015) on the Critical Ethnic Studies blog, and their call to, “consider what you might want to change about your academic citation practices. Who do you choose to link and re-circulate in your work? Who gets erased? Who should you stop citing?” We aim to develop a network of feminist scholars with diverse identities and research interests and to build an archive of work that we can draw upon.
In collaboration with #FEAS, GEA will be profiling a Cite Club publication on this blog each month. To start we are introducing a paper by Kerry H. Robinson, Elizabeth Smith & Cristyn Davies (2017) that explores parents’ perspectives on children’s sexuality education in Australia. Kerry Robinson is one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming GEA conference 2017, and this paper addresses #GEAconf2017’s interest in exploring key issues in the field of sexuality education. Cite Club is in its infancy, we are excited to see where it takes us! If anyone would like to join the Cite Club mailing list please e-mail Emily Gray: email@example.com
May 2017 #FEAS/GEA Cite Club Featured Publication
Responsibilities, tensions, and ways forward: parents’ perspectives on children’s sexuality education
To cite this article:
Kerry H. Robinson, Elizabeth Smith & Cristyn Davies (2017) Responsibilities, tensions and ways forward: parents’ perspectives on children’s sexuality education, Sex Education, 17:3, 333-347, DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2017.1301904
Children’s sexuality education lives under the burden of societal anxieties around sexuality as a developmentally inappropriate, risky and dangerous topic for children. Informed by socio-cultural discourses of childhood ‘innocence’, sexuality is often deemed too ‘adult’ and something from which children should be protected. Despite the notable benefits of sexuality education to children’s health and wellbeing, policy-makers can be wary of sparking controversy with parents on this matter.
Exploring these tensions Kerry H. Robinson’s, Elizabeth Smith’s & Cristyn Davies’ paper provides insights into parental perspectives on primary sexuality education in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, Australia. The authors note that despite the recent development in Australia of a National Curriculum with a Health and Physical Education syllabus, children’s experiences of sexuality education varies considerably across schools, states and territories with content decisions left to individual schools and teachers. Parents/carers generally have the right to remove their children from sexuality education classes. Additionally, sexuality education policies in NSW and Victoria point to the need for collaboration and communication between parents/carers, schools and community health organisations. Therefore, parental attitudes have significant implications for sexuality education policy and practice.
Undertaken as part of a larger research project on ethical and respectful relationships education in primary schools, this study set out to identify what and how discourses affect parents’ concerns, anxieties and perceived responsibilities concerning sexuality and relationships education for their children. A sample of 342 parents/carers were recruited (60.5%, n = 207 women and 39.5%, n = 135 men) and asked to participate in an online survey, interviews and focus groups exploring their perceptions and experiences of a variety of topic areas related to sexuality and relationships education. Whilst the findings indicated that the majority (71%) of parents/carers surveyed did consider sexuality education to be both important and relevant to the lives of primary school children, attitudes differed on how this should be delivered and a third of parents indicated that sexuality education was not relevant or were unsure of it’s relevance.
The paper goes on to explore why parents did and did not consider sexuality education relevant; views on who should be responsible for sexuality education; and aspects of sexuality education considered more appropriate for families to address than schools or other sources. In doing so, it provides an overview of some of the opportunities and challenges facing families, practitioners and policy-makers who wish to see more effective sexuality education available for children. Challenges include the persistence of profound fears around sexuality education as developmentally inappropriate amongst some parents, whereas potential opportunities for development were evident in the recognition amongst many parents that they have a responsibility for their children’s sexuality education, but often feel unconfident instigating these conversations at home.
Suggesting ways forward the authors note that sexuality education as a health and wellbeing issue should continue to be recognised as a shared responsibility between families, schools and health organisations, but with greater support in place to address the gaps in adults’ learning in this area. For example, community sexuality education programmes could provide evidence-based information, skill development, resources and support to parents/carers in regards to best practice. They argue that such community programmes could also support school-based sexuality work and offer valuable signposting to children and young people. Furthermore, better communication from schools about the sexuality curriculum and pedagogical approaches may help address any parental concerns. Finally, they argue that greater consistency and monitoring of the implementation of sexuality education could ensure equitable access for all students.
This paper offers valuable insights into how particular socio-cultural discourses and narratives shape parental approaches to primary age children’s sexuality education. For further information about the wider project exploring teacher attitudes and approaches, as well as children’s understandings click here.
If you are attending the GEA conference, and looking forward to hearing more about the work of Kerry Robinson, Cristyn Davies or #FEAS members, let us know on Twitter using the hashtag: #GEAconf2017
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