Gender identity & sexuality

Learning Intention: In this lesson, you learn what it means to be a member of the LGBTIQA+ community, the challenges faced by LGBTIQA+ people in schools and how we can support LGBTIQA+ peers through allyship. 

Lesson Duration: 60 - 90 minutes

Task 1 / What is LGBTIQA+?

Explore

In More Than This, we see a number of characters who are members of the LGBTIQA+ communities. LGBTIQA+ stands for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, queer, asexual and/or aromantic, and the plus symbol acknowledges the many identities and communities that are not captured in these letters. 

L: Lesbian - Someone who identifies as a woman attracted to other women. 

G: Gay - Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender.

B: Bisexual - Someone who is attracted to multiple genders (Pansexual: Someone who is attracted to others regardless of their gender).

T: Trans and Gender Diverse - Individuals who do not identify with the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

I: Intersex - Individuals born with innate sex characteristics that do not fit medical or social norms for female or male bodies. 

Q: Queer - An umbrella term for someone who may identify with one of the LGBTIQA+ communities. 

A: Asexual - Someone who experiences no or very low levels of sexual attraction | Aromantic - Someone who experiences no or very low levels of romantic attraction. 

+: An acknowledgment that there are many other identities and communities that cannot be captured in a short acronym.

Reflect

Discuss the following questions as a class:

  • There are a number of LGBTIQA+ characters in the series, and yet none of them ‘come out’ during the show. Why do you think this is?
  • Do you think the LGBTIQA+ themes were handled well throughout the show? Why or why not?
  • What are some examples of LGBTIQA+ inclusion that you noticed in the show?
  • What do you think the experience is like being LGBTIQA+ in Australian schools today?

Task 2 / Being LGBTIQA+ in school

Explore

We have seen a lot of progress in recent years when it comes to LGBTIQA+ rights and inclusion, however research tells us that many LGBTIQA+ people still struggle on a day-to-day basis due to the perceptions and behaviours of others. 

As a class, consider the following findings from Writing Themselves In 4 (2019), an Australian-based study that engaged 6,418 LGBTIQA+ Australians between the ages of 14 and 21, about their experiences with education, homelessness, harassment, assault, mental health, community connections and more.

  • 60% of LGBTIQA+ young people felt unsafe or uncomfortable at school in the 12 months prior to the study.
  • Only 52% felt they could safely identify openly as LGBTIQA+ at school.
  • 76% reported hearing negative remarks regarding sexuality sometimes or frequently in the 12 months prior to the study. 
  • 61% reported hearing negative remarks regarding gender identity sometimes or frequently in the same time period. 
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of trans women, more than half (54%) of trans men, and 45% of non-binary participants reported missing day/s at their educational setting in the 12 months prior to the study due to feeling unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • 36% rated their mental health as poor/fair, while only 28% rated their mental health as very good/excellent, compared to 63% of the general population in the same age group.
 

Reflect

Discuss the following questions as a class:

  • Were you surprised by the research findings? Why or why not? 
  • What are some comparisons you could draw between the research findings and the characters from the show?
  • Can you think of any ways in which your school currently creates an inclusive environment for LGBTIQA+ people?
  • Can you think of any ways in which your school could create an even more inclusive environment for LGBTIQA+ people?

Task 3 / Supporting LGBTIQA+ peers

Watch

In the Identity and Belonging lesson <INSERT LINK> we reflected on what it means to be an ‘ally’ to others. In this lesson we are going to take it a step further by considering what allyship can look like when it comes to the LGBTIQA+ community. 

Acts of allyship can be as grand as marching through the streets demanding legal rights for minority groups, or as subtle as smiling at someone you pass in the corridor who appears to be expressing their identity authentically. Put simply, allyship refers to an ongoing, active effort made by an individual to better understand and support those likely to face oppression in society as a result of their identity. 

Watch the following scene compilation from More Than This.

“Oh my god, I fu*king love your socks.” - Benson

Reflect

Working in small groups, consider the questions below.

  • What forms of allyship did you notice in these clips?
  • Can a member of the LGBTIQA+ community also be an ally?
  • What impact do you think the allyship you just saw in the show had on the characters?

Explore

The language we use is a crucial part of allyship. Words have the power to uplift or tear down another individual, depending on how we use them. Pronouns are one example of language that holds particular importance to certain members of the LGBTIQA+ community. 

We often use pronouns to refer to someone when we are not using their name. For example, in our society today, those who identify as a girl or woman commonly use she/her pronouns, while those who identify as boy or man typically use he/him pronouns. Some people, however, use they/them pronouns, which is a gender neutral or gender non-specific pronoun option for those who may not identify as strictly girl/woman, boy/man (e.g. gender diverse / non-binary / genderqueer / gender fluid etc.). 

An easy way to demonstrate allyship is to introduce your pronouns when you meet someone and ask for theirs in return. One way you might do this could be:

“Hey there, my name’s Charlotte and I use she/her pronouns, what about you?”

Working in groups of three, assign yourselves one of the characters below and take it in turns to introduce their name and pronouns and ask for someone else’s.

Zali Benson Jamie
- Pronouns: she / her - Pronouns: he / him - Pronouns: they / them

Hot Tips

  • If you accidentally use the wrong pronouns when referring to someone, simply correct yourself and keep the conversation moving, rather than making a big deal out of it. For example:

    “This is Jamie and he’s new to our class - sorry, they’re new to this class - so be sure to say hi when you see them around.” 

  • If you notice another person using the wrong pronouns when referring to someone, a great strategy can be to give them a respectful heads up and then role model using the correct pronouns. For example:

    “Who’s that guy? Is he new to our class?”
    “Oh, that’s Jamie. I’m pretty sure they use they/them pronouns. They just moved to our class this week and seem really nice. We should say hi to them.”

  • Adding your pronouns to your social media accounts, email signature or name badge can be a great way to demonstrate allyship and normalise the process of sharing pronouns.

    Create

    Working individually, write a short paragraph describing what you think Jamie might spend their weekend doing, using they/them pronouns, and then in pairs read out the paragraph. After each member has shared, consider the following questions:

    • Was it easy or difficult to use they/them pronouns when describing Jamie? 
    • What are some other ways you might be able to share your pronouns with others?
    Extension Task / Allyship posters

    Create

    Working in small groups, design and create a poster for the school featured in More Than This that could help the LGBTIQA+ characters to feel safe and empowered while at school. While designing the poster, consider the following points:

    • Who is the audience for the poster?
    • Is the message uplifting and positive? 
    • Is the language inclusive? 
    • How will the viewer feel when they see your poster?

    Share

    Share your poster with the class.


    If any of the content in More Than This or this learning resource raises any issues for you, Kids Helpline’s qualified counsellors are available via WebChat, phone or email anytime and for any reason. 

    Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free (even from a mobile), confidential 24/7 online and phone counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Visit kidshelpline.com.au or call 1800 55 1800.

     

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