Research to support sexuality & relationships education

Regular research focusing on the sexual worlds of young people and the sexuality and relationships educational experiences of teachers together provide an essential platform for the introduction of a sexuality and relationships curriculum (Mitchell et al., 2011).

FPQ has produced evidence briefings which draw on current research and can be used to support teaching practice. Download them here:

  1. Young people’s views on sexuality and relationships education in schools
  2. Parents’ views on sexuality and relationships education
  3. Supporting teachers to deliver sexuality and relationships education
  4. A rationale for providing sexuality and relationships education for students with a disability

Dr Deana Leahy and Dr Louise McCuaig’s Scoping Paper, Supporting teachers to teach relationships and sexuality education (RSE): FPQ workforce development project, analyses new data to inform workforce development strategies to improve the provision of RSE in schools.

  • Supporting teachers to teach relationships & sexuality education (RSE): Family Planning Queensland workforce development project Scoping Paper
  • Supporting teachers to teach relationships & sexuality education (RSE): Family Planning Queensland workforce development project Executive Summary
The research reveals that Australian young people in secondary schools are generally sexually experienced and need SRE to take account of their lives here and now. Much of the research suggests sexuality and relationships education has been shown to have a positive effect on behaviour, delaying the onset of sexual activity and increasing the adoption of safer sex practices (Senderowitz & Kirby, 2006). Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2008 (Smith, Agius, Mitchell, Barrett & Pitts, 2009) reported the following statistics about young people’s sexual health:
  • the majority of young people in Years 10 and 12 are sexually active in some way
  • the use of condoms and other forms of contraception is common amongst young people
  • 78% have experienced some form of sexual activity
  • 30% report having more than three sexual partners in a year
  • 69% reported using a condom the last time they had sex
  • less than 1 in 10 students believed they were at risk of infection with HIV/AIDS, an STI, hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • 1 in 10 students reported their most recent sexual encounter was with someone of the same sex
  • 38% of young women reported experiencing unwanted sex
  • most students (88%) had sought information regarding sexual health


Family Planning Queensland. (2001). Every body needs to know: A sexual and reproductive health education resource for teaching people with a disability. Brisbane: Family Planning Queensland.

Mitchell A, Smith A, Carman M, Schlichthorst M, Walsh J & Pitts M. 2011. Sexuality Education in Australia in 2011, Monograph Series No. 81. Melbourne: La        Trobe University, the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society.

Senderowitz, J. & Kirby, D. (2006). Standards for curriculum-based reproductive health and HIV education programs. USA: Family Health International.

Smith, A., Agius, P., Dyson, S., Mitchell, A. & Pitts, M. (2003). Secondary students and sexual health 2002: Results of the 3rd national survey of Australian secondary students, HIV/AIDS and sexual health. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre    in Sex, Health & Society, La Trobe University.

World Health Organisation (2003). Very young adolescents: The hidden young people. Technical meeting on 10-14 year olds. Held at World Health Organisation, Geneva, 29 April-2 May 2003. Retrieved on 19 December, 2011  from


Sexual Health
An interdisciplinary journal of sexual health including HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.

The American Journal of Sexuality Education
This journal caters to the distinct, professional needs of sexuality educators and trainers. This peer reviewed journal provides sexuality educators and trainers with current research about sexuality education programming, best practices, sample lesson plans, reports on curriculum development and assessment, literature reviews, scholarly commentary, educational program reports, media reviews (books, videos, internet resources, and curricula), and letters to the editor.

Sex Education – Sexuality, Society and Learning
Sex Education is an international peer refereed journal concerned both with the practice of sex education and with the thinking that underpins it. 

Education Today
The magazine for education professionals. 4 issues per year.