New research reveals teen views on taboo topics

Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen, ANU School of Sociology
Monday 3 September 2018

New research from academics The Australian National University, Deakin and Monash Universities, is providing ground-breaking insight into the views of today’s teens on social issues.

Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen from the ANU School of Sociology 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.

The new data not only fills in crucial gaps in our understanding, but it also shows the direction today’s young people feel society should head in accepting diversity.

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.”

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.


About the ANU School of Sociology

The discipline of Sociology is one of the academic pillars on which The Australian National University was built. The ANU School of Sociology has an exciting program of research and teaching that combines the theoretical and applied dimensions of the discipline. Our research and teaching ethos is orientated to the critical analysis of social transformations; publically-engaged in its aspirations and impact, and dedicated to examining inequality in its various manifestations. The ANU is ranked 1st in Australia and 13th in the world for Sociology in the 2018 QS World Subject rankings. Follow ANU School of Sociology on Facebook and Twitter.

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Updated:  7 September 2018/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications