Released to mark Intersex Day of Awareness 2021, Including Intersex: responding to issues affecting the educational experiences of intersex students in Australia is a new resource filling a gap in information and guidance about the needs and experiences of intersex people specifically for the school and education setting.
It is estimated that intersex people account for up to 1.7% of the global population. Across all school levels and systems, this equates to around 1300 to 1400 intersex students in the school system at any given point in time (roughly 1 student in every 2-3 classrooms). This statistic means that educators have almost certainly encountered intersex students in their school communities, whether they were aware of it or not. It is important for school staff to be aware and inclusive of such diversity, especially given they have ethical and legal obligations to promote positive learning environments and model prosocial values that reflect and respect diversity in our community.
Including Intersex was developed and reviewed by intersex peer workers, and is a collaboration of two ACT community health organisations - A Gender Agenda (AGA) and Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT).
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Including Intersex: responding to issues affecting the educational experiences of intersex students in Australia.
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SHFPACT also recommends the following short information videos to learn about intersex people and intersex variations.
You Can't Ask That: Intersex people answer 'What is Intersex?
Giving Australians born intersex more control over their bodies ABC News Special Report (Oct 2021)
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This resource is designed to support educators and other school staff to be more informed about intersex topics and relevant content. It provides relevant background information, summarises current research, explores educational barriers and highlights ways in which existing approaches in schools and classrooms can be built on, changed, or reframed to facilitate a more inclusive and effective learning environment for intersex students.
BACKGROUND AND DEVELOPMENT
This resource has been developed as a collaborative project of two community-based organisations in the Australian Capital Territory – A Gender Agenda (AGA) and Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT).
A Gender Agenda is Canberra’s local community organisation run by and for transgender, gender diverse, gender non-binary and intersex people.
Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT provides clinical services, education and training, and health information in the areas of reproductive and sexual health, sexuality, and relationships. In addition to its broad sexual health and relationships education programs in schools, SHFPACT is the lead agency for the ACT Safe and Inclusive Schools (SAIS) Initiative. Funded by the ACT Government Education Directorate, the SAIS Initiative provides support to ACT schools and education programs to assist them to be safe, welcoming, and inclusive of all students, staff and families, with a particular focus on diversity in sexuality, sex and gender. shfpact.org.au
These two organisations identified that information about the school experiences of intersex people is extremely sparse. Drawing on their respective experience, perspectives and strengths, AGA and SHFPACT have worked over several years to identify and appropriately apply information about intersex variation and the needs of intersex people to a specifically school-focused resource. It was important throughout the process that this document strongly reflected and was shaped directly by the experiences of intersex people. It was also important for us to reflect both knowledge and understanding of the opportunities and challenges that come with health promotion in the school environment. The resource has been substantially authored by intersex people working in key project roles at A Gender Agenda and SHFPACT.
A draft was reviewed by an external peer reviewer, with final editing and review support from other employees at AGA and SHFPACT. A final draft version of the resource was provided to ACT Education Directorate, and national intersex peer organisations Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) and Intersex Peer Support Australia (IPSA) for high-level review prior to release. This resource is not an endorsed product of the ACT Education Directorate and is not affiliated with the Act Safe and Inclusive School’s Initiative.
The resource has been specifically written for the context of schools and the community in the Australian Capital Territory, but some content will also be relevant elsewhere. Approaches in the ACT may differ in other Australian States or Territories, and internationally. While the resource addresses a significant gap in information and guidance focused on schools and education programs and relevant to the experience of intersex people, it does not exhaustively cover all possible needs, issues and concerns of either intersex people or staff in school communities. We would welcome feedback and further input to identify improvements and additions that may make future editions even more relevant and useful. We hope that other resources and materials will continue to be developed that complement and build on this work, both locally, nationally, and internationally.
CONTACT FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK:
- Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT
- A Gender Agenda
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#IncludingIntersex is a unique resource for all educators wanting to provide an inclusive and equitable schooling experience to all students. This resource highlights the key issues and barriers facing intersex students in Australia and equips the reader with the tangible actions and resources to begin addressing these.
Developed, written, and informed by intersex professionals and intersex lived experience, this resource has been an ongoing passion project between Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT) and A Gender Agenda (AGA) since 2018, bringing an often silent voice to the forefront.
After identifying that information about the school experiences of intersex people was extremely sparse SHFPACT and AGA drew on their expertise to shape something specifically focussed on schooling. Including Intersex combines multidisciplinary knowledge and lived experience into this easy-to-use resource for all educators and school staff.
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