Title: “It could have only happened in Queensland”: Understanding Sex Education in Queensland’s ‘Sexual Revolution’

someone writing 'sex' on a chalkboardAbstract: The history of sex education and human relationships in Queensland is fraught with controversy and conservatism, and is markedly distinct from other Australian states particularly during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Contraceptive advances during this period were rapid and the proliferation of different methods made contraception more accessible and affordable in the long term. However, the increase in access to birth control did not see parallel education about these new methods. The role of schools was pitted against the role of parents when the question of responsibility for sex education arose. The conservative Bjelke-Petersen state government was instrumental in preventing the dissemination of any educational material concerning human relationships in schools, citing reasons of particular concern for the morality of adolescents and the overreach of the state in what was perceived as a family matter. Where other states had implemented sex education programs in schools in response to changing attitudes toward sexuality, Queensland lingered behind – a position that was not uncommon for the Sunshine State.

Presenter: Cassandra Byrnes, HDR candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry