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Human Rights Education about sexual orientation & gender identity in Australian schools, post-marriage equality
Professor Paula Gerber
Faculty of Law, Monash University

Australia achieved marriage equality in 2017, following a controversial and divisive postal survey which invited all Australians to ‘vote’ on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The ‘No’ campaign focused on the alleged negative impact of marriage equality on children’s education. Scare-mongering television clips claimed that boys would start wearing dresses to school and radical sex and gender education would become mandatory. Four years later, it is timely to consider the legacy of the ‘No’ campaign on education. An analysis of developments since marriage equality was achieved, reveals that LGBTQ+ students have become more vulnerable to discrimination and there is less human rights education (HRE) about diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
This presentation explores the legacy of the marriage equality ‘debate’ on the Safe Schools program and the national curriculum. It considers the extent to which Australia is currently complying with its international treaty obligations regarding human rights education pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity and concludes with recommendations for reforms.


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