Modern teens tackle taboo topics in ground-breaking survey

Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU), in partnership with Deakin and Monash Universities, say we can learn some important lessons from Australia’s Gen Z when it comes to accepting diversity.

Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen and her colleagues surveyed more than 1200 Australian teenagers aged 13-18, to find out what they think about a range of topics, including sexuality, gender diversity and religion.

“Contemporary teenagers are exposed to diversity in ways that are unprecedented, through social media, school and peers. But there is a lack of evidence based understanding of their experiences of religious, spiritual, gender and sexual diversity.” Professor Rasmussen said.

“This study provides a powerful insight into how teenagers are making sense of the world around them.”

According to the survey, 84 per cent of Australia’s teens think school students should be allowed to openly express any sexual or gender orientation and 82 per cent supported marriage equality.

80 per cent of teens agree sex education in schools should include information relevant to LGBTQI people, while another 73 per cent think schools should discuss issues related to sexuality.

“This research also demonstrates that LGBTI issues aren’t being taught in our schools,” Professor Rasmussen said.

“Education needs to better reflect the complexities of Gen Z’s everyday experiences of religion and belief, and gender and sexuality – young people do not see these things as oppositional.”

Wear it Purple Day, Friday 31 August, is the perfect opportunity to make sure these young voices are heard.

Wear it Purple Day is about demanding adults listen to young people’s demands for education that is inclusive of gender and sexual diversity.

Professor Rasmussen and her team hope this push to understand more about young people's perspectives and what influences them will lead to change in our school system.

The Australian Research Council funded study “Young Australians’ perspectives on religions and non-religious worldviews” used 11 focus groups to survey students in Years 9 and 10 across three states.

The researchers also conducted a telephone survey of 1200 people aged 13-18, and 30 in-depth, follow-up interviews with survey participants.

FOR INTERVIEW:

Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen

ANU School of Sociology

T:  (02) 61252659

E:  MaryLou.Rasmussen@anu.edu.au

For media assistance, contact the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979 or at .

About The Australian National University

ANU is a world-leading university in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Our location points to our unique history, ties to the Australian Government and special standing as a resource for the Australian people.

Our focus on research as an asset, and an approach to education, ensures our graduates are in demand the world-over for their abilities to understand, and apply vision and creativity to addressing complex contemporary challenges.

The Australian National University
East Road, Acton
2601 Canberra