Video transcript
2020 Years 9 and 10 Final

>> Back to video

(Music playing)

JUSTINE CLARK: Good morning, and welcome to the 2020 State Final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Years 9 and 10 for the Tisdale Cup. My name is Justine Clark and I'm the Speaking Competitions Officer for the Department of Education's Arts Unit.

Before we go any further, I'd like to acknowledge that I'm speaking to you on the homelands of the Gadigal people, who are the traditional custodians of this land. I pay respect to elders past and present, and emerging, of the Eora nation and extend that respect to other Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

This competition began in 1953 with the donation of a trophy by Charles and Fred Tisdale for an annual debating competition at intermediate level through high schools on the North Shore. Over the years it has expanded and is now open to teams of 4 students in government schools throughout NSW.

This year, we offered a modified knock-out debating competition, expecting a smaller number of schools to enter the challenge, but ended up with over 300 teams who entered and competed online across the state. As part of this structure, we offered a second chance draw to anyone who was knocked out in the first round with the possibility of the winner of that repecharge re-entering the competition at a later date. And, one of our state finalists has done just that. Congratulations to James Ross for winning through the repecharge and making it all the way to the state finals. That's quite an achievement in itself.

I'd also like to congratulate all the quarter finalists in this competition, some of whom have joined to watch the debate today - Normanhurst Boys, Merewether High School, Sydney Girls High School, Caringbah High School, St George Girls High School, and Port Hacking High School. Congratulations on making it so far in what was quite a difficult competition with all of those things going on.

Now, on to our state final. Our adjudicators today, with an even more important job - Indigo Crosweller, Anna-Sophia Zahar, and Ellie - Ellie Stephenson. The state finalists today, our most important people, are from Cammeraygal High School and James Ruse Agricultural High School. The affirmative team is from Cammeraygal. First speaker, Andrew Sun. Second speaker, William Shields. Third speaker, Ellie Doble. Team advisor, Milana Duchenne. And, their coach is Sarah Sharp.

The negative team is from James Ruse Agricultural High School. First speaker, Victoria Hong. Second speaker, Marianne Abzack. Third speaker, Yungi Lee. And, our team advisor, Daniel Hwang. And their coach is Chi Truong.

The topic today is that 'Parents should be able to withdraw their children from sex education classes at high school.' Before we begin, can we just make sure everybody is muted. And, I'd now like to welcome our first speaker for the affirmative to begin the debate.

[Applause]

ANDREW SUN: By 2022, parents will be able to withdraw their children from sexual education classes at high school. My first point will be on the status quo. My second point will be about the rights and responsibilities. And, my second speaker will be expanding on sexual education.

On to my first point. We all remember the awkwardness of sex ed - the laughing, the jokes, the stuff they didn't teach us. The stigma around sex currently doesn't allow for children to take sex ed seriously. Well, most children all know that no one kept a straight face when forced to open a condom or label genitals.

Most children probably turned to the internet in order to learn about sex, as information seemed more relevant and they were more surrounded by 20 other immature teenagers. This is obviously not a favourable outcome, as there is a lot of misinformation about sex on the internet.

This is why parents reserve the right to take their children out of sex education at school. And, parents, as informed adults who have individual values and beliefs that they share with their children, have the right to decide where and how they're going to teach a topic as sensitive and important as sexual education.

They care about not only the information, but also the attitudes that are taught to their children about sex. It is also the parent's responsibility to ensure that their children are getting an adequate education, especially, in this case, an individualistic topic. In some cases an adequate education is one that aligns with the family's values. This is why parents should be given the right to decide how their children should be taught sex education.

So, that is the current status quo. And, currently it is a standardised system that teaches everyone, regardless of their beliefs and values about the same things, about the same sexual education. And, as a topic that's as individualistic, as I stated before, as it's very related to your beliefs. It's very related to your sexuality. And, it's very related to your values. These topics should be given to decide on the individuals, on the families, rather than the schools.

So, on to my second point, rights and responsibilities. So, as the affirmative team, we understand that children should have a right for sexual education. We also understand the importance of the subject. However, we are questioning whether it's the school's responsibility, and whether they're qualified to deliver this.

We question that if a standardised education is appropriate for this kind of subject, this individualistic subject as sexual education. And, we question if it's the responsibility of schools rather than families and parents.

It is not. It is the right of the parents to fulfil this right of their children. And thus, it is the responsibility of their parents to be informed on these kinds of personal subjects. As stated, sexual education is highly personal. It is related to your beliefs and your sexuality. And, this should be modified rather from like a standardised point of view.

And so, in the status quo when sexual education are taught within your classroom environment and they're receiving negative connotations and mentality within the classroom, this is because of the peers and the people surrounding this environment. And, it's also the openness of the situation.

And, especially when your culture goes against birth control, such as people with Catholic backgrounds, or Islamic backgrounds, and these education will go against the beliefs of families and the right of the parents. And so, when these forms of standardised education goes against individualistic values in subjects such as sex education. The parents, they do have a right to be informed of how these subjects are taught.

So, if your Islamic beliefs are against sex before marriage, and school standardised sexual education are against these beliefs, thus the parents should be in order to like give them the control over how this is taught. So, this goes both ways. If parents are against their children to be taught by the school, they have the ability to withdraw, but if parents are for sexual education, if say, like their children are in a Catholic school which doesn't support the standardised sexual education at public schools, parents should also have the right to govern how sexual education should be taught and withdraw their children and teach it similar to the standardised form.

So, it goes both ways, whether parents allow or disallow this form of education. And, the point is that the parents should have the decision. And, they should have the right to decide how sexual education should be taught. Because it is their responsibility on how their children should be taught sexual education, and not the school's responsibility.

And this is very beneficial. It's like parents are incentivised to allow their children to have this knowledge. They care for their children. That's like stating the status quo, as is they have kids of their own. And, they would want the best suited education, sexual education in this case, for their children.

But, in the case where if they have beliefs or religious values, they might withdraw from these forms of education, as they think there is a better alternative, or better way to teach this subject in their point of view.

And so, as parents, they should be given the right to do so, as they should be given the right to teach to allow and decide, or disallow, how their children should be taught in other ways, how their children should be taught sexual education.

So, to conclude, I'm proud to affirm. Thank you.

[Applause]

VICTORIA HONG: In the current status quo we believe that children are learning about sexual education successfully, leading to a decrease in sexual activity and more informed individuals. And therefore, we believe it is not a viable option to allow parents to opt them out of the sex education programme in high school. Our model is just keeping with the status quo, where all students must attend high school for sexual education classes.

So, today I'll be doing 3 things. Firstly, I'll be talking about why can the government override a parent's judgement about sexual education. Secondly, why do children need sexual education? And thirdly, why schools are better at sexual education than parents? And, my rebuttal will be integrated.

So, on to my first point, why can we override - sorry, why can the schools and governments override parents' judgement, like judgement about sexual education and like withdrawing them? So, the opposition came out and said, parents have this right because they have their own individual values and they have to give adequate education for their children based on their values. So, we think both the government and the parents here want to protect the children. We think the most important part is that children are safe and protected.

And, while we think it is the parents' first choice to like give them the protection, the sort of education they want. But, we think when their values, and the way they want to teach their children is harming them, it's putting them in harm's way, we think at that point the government must stand in and protect these children.

And, we think at this point the government's ability to protect overrides the parents' rights and responsibility over the child, because their children are no longer safe, no longer protected. For us, this withdrawal in the sexual education classes, when parents withdraw their children, they are unable to gain adequate and necessary knowledge that equips them for protection or safe sex, which puts them in harm's way, particularly in their health. And, we think at that point, now the government can override the parents' decision, because the parents are putting their children in harm's way, not getting the adequate information necessary for their children.

OK? Now, next, secondly, I'll be talking about why children need sexual education. So firstly, just for safety, because like sex ed is unique in that it poses so many harms when you don't have the necessary knowledge. So, it must be like - without the necessary knowledge. So, at that point we don't want to risk these children not knowing how to have sex safely, how to put on a contraption, like the warning signs of like different STDs.

And, because there's so much harm, we want to fix this with like giving them appropriate knowledge. We think, secondly, it's just unavoidable. Because we see in the current status quo, because of like applications of like social media, media in general, et cetera, they are always going to be sort of exposed to some sort of sexual content. And, because society has transitioned into this state where like sexual activity is kind of exposed to these children, because of this, it is unavoidable. And, they should at least learn how to have safe procedures.

Thirdly, we think when we talk about sex in school, which is like a semi professional environment, it normalises and creates a less stigmatised image of sex. And, as a result, it allows children to feel more comfortable about opening up and talking about sex related incidents. We think that's particularly important so they can talk to their teachers, or their friends, or people in school who have like correct knowledge that can actually help them, particularly if they're having problems in a sexual way.

And, that's why we think it's particularly important that children need to be taught properly on how to have protected sex, or just like a good sexual education. So now, on to my third point. Why do we think schools are better at teaching sexual education compared to parents?

So, the opposition came out here and stated that the parents know their children better. And, because of that, therefore, they should be able to teach their children the way that they think they should be taught. We think the opposition here has characterised these parents in a wrong way. We think they've characterised them as these parents who are really knowledgeable about sexual education, who are going to put as many hours as teachers, as like PDHE teachers put into their sexual education. We think that's wrong.

So, what we see here is there's like 2 - so first of all, we talk about the consequences of parents withdrawing their children from sexual education. So, when you see 2 different sorts of people, so we see people who either like - so, we see parents who either don't want to teach their children anything about sexual education until maybe later in life, because they don't think it's necessary. Or secondly, they want to self teach these like children, right? OK.

So, for people who don't get any sexual education, firstly, we think - what we think this means is that children are likely to go into like unreliable and harmful sites like the internet. Why is this true? Because at that age, they tend to be interested in sexual education, et cetera, just because of like puberty. And secondly, because all their friends have learned about it, they're often likely to feel left out, feel more curious about trying to know more about sexual education that all their friends do know about. And, we think this means that they're going to go to their easiest, most accessible site, which is the internet and social media.

Why is this bad? Firstly, because it's like unreliable and like not accurate, because a lot of these sites are not checked by scientists, medical experts. And, because there's so many sites like this, it's very likely that children are going to find one of these sites and look at the information here. Secondly, we think it's just limited information. Like they don't have the ability to ask questions. If they're curious on something, they can't ask the internet. They have to just like go on to more sites.

Thirdly, we think there's often toxic representation on the internet. For example, porn sites often depict sex as like this really aggressive, sort of toxic image. And, we don't want children to be like shown that, especially when they don't actually have the adequate education before that to recognise that this is not like what sex should be like.

We think there's another sort of category of people who won't do anything later on til like later or until marriage. We think, again, this is probably going to be the same as the category before it, because later on there's actually no source of information they can go to. They're not taught this at uni. There's no course for sexual education really. So again, they have to go into the media and internet.

So, why are schools comparatively better? So, the team came out here and stated like, often Catholic and like Islamic values are overridden, because they don't want their people who are Catholic or Islamic to learn about sex or have sex. So, our response to this is that we think that schools are actually standardised. Like they have a very neutral and objective standpoint.

Right, the school's priority is to teach, and not to put sex in like a positive or a negative light. For example, when you are getting taught about sex, you do get taught like abstinence is the best way not to get STDs or unwanted pregnancies, right? But if you do want to have sex, you should do X, Y, Z.

Right, we think this is very different from parents who often have like a negative light on sex, often want to decentivise children, particularly the ones who are actually like pulling their children out of school. And we think this means that they are likely to not give as much information or put sex in such a really negative way. Yeah.

Secondly, so yeah - and we think - so, why are schools comparatively better? We think it's also a more holistic education because schools cover all aspects of the sexual education, because they have a syllabus. They have a curriculum made by a government that they must follow. We think secondly, there's better resources, right? They are professionals, because PDHPE teachers have actually gone to uni, have actually been taught this, have a degree.

Secondly, there are textbooks that are written by like sex psychologists, scientists that they always use. Thirdly, there's like guaranteed time, because they need like 200 hours of PDHPE. So, a certain amount of time is always going to be given for sexual education. And therefore, I am proud to negate.

[Applause]

WILLIAM SHIELDS: Sex education is an extremely individual topic that needs to be handled differently for every student. I'm going to begin my case by going through my rebuttals. And then, afterwards, I will talk about the inherent flaws in the status quo and current sex education that mean that parents taking their children out of sex education is extremely justified, which is why the affirmative team wants this change to be put into place.

So, I've got my rebuttals broken down into 2 themes. The first theme is a practical argument about the effectiveness of the status quo. And, the second theme is a principled argument about the role of parents and the government in providing the sexual education.

So, the first argument is about the effectiveness of the status quo. And, this will have elements that are heavily integrated throughout my response, as I am talking about the inherent flaws in the status quo. I'm going to go through some of the specific statements said by the opposition team.

One thing that they stated is that the school is a professional learning environment, and that means that children will become more open towards expressing themselves and finding out information. We do not believe that a formal environment for all students is the correct possibility. We believe that there is choice, because some students will handle things differently. Some students will find the formal environment helpful, and some will find it the worst thing for them.

Some people will find that the formalised environment, and all the stigma around sex in this classroom, creates a huge issue in which they don't feel like they can express themselves, and it achieves the opposite of what the opposition wants to achieve. We believe that this justifies giving the parents choice, because this will help the students, because parents know their students really well.

And, the second thing is that they stated that some children would lose all forms, or most forms, of sexual education under our model. We believe that if a parent believes that they aren't qualified to teach their students about sexual education that they have the option to keep their child in the school. And, parents want to do what is best for their child. They do not think, I want my child to get HIV. They do not think I am not going to let them know that HIV exists. They think, I will do what is best for the child. And, we believe that they will see whether or not they have their own limitations, and whether they believe that sexual education in the classroom is the correct decision.

And, the next one is the idea of whether the parents or the government should have the ability to teach the sexual education. And, where this comes down to is the individuality in the sexual education. The government can make very broad curriculums that will be helpful for some people, maybe even helpful for the majority of people. But, there will always be cases where a parent will be able to tailor the individual needs of the student more than the government can, because the government has to create what works for the most people, whereas our model creates what is best for everyone, because you have the option to do sexual education classes, and you also have the option to do home schooling.

And, there are various situations in which this would be used. To bring up what our first speaker said, this could be used in cultural or religious areas. But, as I'm going to expand upon, there'll be instances in which the current system creates regresses the information, or it simply isn't relevant for people who are in the LGBT community, which means that the choice that our model provides is the best.

Now, I'm going to be on to my substantive, because my case is about the inherent flaws in sexual education, which create a valid basis for parents taking their children out of these classes. The first reason is the environment the students are in, where they are surrounded in an immature environment, which can harm or regress the learning and progress of the students in sexual education.

The second reason is that sexual education is often not comprehensive, cutting out and omitting important information, which the parents could include depending on whether the child requires it or not. And, the third is the last reason, in that sexual education often isn't taught properly, which can nullify its benefit. Which is why we should introduce parents being able to take their child out of these classes and teach them this content.

Now, the first reason is that the classroom is not a fitting environment for many students. And, the parents should have control over whether they believe that their child will work in this environment to a degree where they will learn a content.

Sexual education is notorious for its immaturity. It is notorious for the inability of students in it to learn. And, this is fundamentally because of the stigma around sex creating these problems that nullify the importance of sexual education in the standardised, formalised group setting. The standardised and formalised group setting the negative agrees is put in place.

Now, for students who are in this situation, there are 3 possible outcomes. The first outcome is that students will ignore the disruption. They'll ignore the immaturity. And, they will develop. And, we believe that this is why our model, which allows for their choice is really beneficial.

And, the second reason is that the disruption will actively harm the growth of the students. And, the last reason, and the most pressing reason is that the disruption can actually regress and actively damage the learning of students, which makes doing the sex ed worse off for the students.

Every student is different. And, sexual education is an extremely individual topic. Now, the first outcome is good. And, the other 2 outcomes, the benefits are outweighed by the harm, which is why we believe that giving parents the choice to determine that this is not appropriate is the best option.

The reason disruption can regress the learning and education of the students is completely unique to sexual education, because of the stigma around sex and the immaturity of students during sex ed. This can create new forms in this environment where the immaturity of the students can lead towards bad learning outcomes, such as people who regress their tolerant beliefs in favour of less tolerant beliefs.

This could be seen in areas like sexuality, where the heteronormative curriculum could reinforce current stigma that the child might draw upon later. This immature learning environment can completely regress the nature of sexual education because of the inappropriate ideas that are spread, and rumours that are spread, in the classroom.

Now, the second reason is that sexual education has an inherent flaw in that it omits information. For example, it omits a lot of information that is necessary about sexually transmitted diseases. The opposition has stated that sexual education teaches about the warning signs of sexually transmitted diseases. However, we on the affirmative do not believe this is the case, because this is not a part of the curriculum. But even if that is the case, even if, it's still nullified by the previous reasons about the - for many students, for many students about the problems in the sex ed and about the classroom environment that disrupts them and harms the learning.

We believe that this also is very noticeable in sexuality. Because the current sex ed curriculum is entirely heteronormative. It only focuses on heterosexual relationships. Members of the LGBT community will find this harmful in 2 ways.

The first way they find it harmful is that it creates a heteronormative stigma. It reinforces the prominence and representation of heterosexuality towards these students, which creates, and in the status quo is acting as a catalyst for discrimination, which is why many parents of LGBT students will decide that this is not an appropriate place to send my child.

And secondly, LGBT students will find that the content is often completely irrelevant. They will find that the content is completely omitting extremely important things that need to be taught about their respective sexuality, which is why we believe that the parents can do this better. We believe that the parents have the information they know about their own child. They'll have the ability to teach the child, who is LGBT, about what is relevant to LGBT people, which is another compounding reason as to the importance of this model.

I rest my case. Thank you very much.

[Applause]

MARIANNE ABZACK: OK. So, the way that the affirmative team has come across into this debate we believe is flawing the way they've already characterised parents and believe the demographics of parents. And so, we'll go through on a point basis. I've broken down their argument into 2 points. First is that the status quo is bad, and that parents can do better. And, secondly is that parents have the principal right to actually be the ones to teach sexual education to children if they want. And, they have the right to be the only one to teach their children sexual education.

So firstly, why did the affirmative team say the status quo is bad and that the parents would have the better model? So, they talk about how currently in schools, it's an inappropriate environment, first of all, where students, they laugh. And, it's very frivolously addressed. And, it's an improper attitude of how it's taught in schools. And, that parents, on the other hand, would have a better approach to this.

They didn't really say exactly why they wouldn't have the improper attitude. But, we believe that if we were going to go into their mindset, they would say that parents, I guess, have more authority and respect, and would be able to reel in their own children.

And, they talk about how it's bad because also it's very standardised, and it's not individualistic enough. So, for example, you'd have a curriculum that teaches general stuff about sex, and doesn't allow students to express themselves, whether it be because it's too heteronormative, the standardised system, or it doesn't allow for personal beliefs to come to the mix, such as birth control, and abortion, and that type of stuff. And, also, that we believe they would think that it also dismisses parents as a voice into actually being able to teach about sexual education, because school would be touted as the more important source of sexual education.

And so, we believe this isn't true for 3 main reasons. So, first of all, why is it not true for the environment? This is about the environment. It's not true for 3 main reasons. So, first of all, why will there be an improper attitude? This could usually be sourced to a lack of proper education of assets, a lack of proper seriousness treated by sex.

And so, we believe that teachers and themselves, and the material that they teach is going to be serious. And so, the way the actual affirmative team has brought out this case in terms of the 3 harms of students ignoring it, or students being harmed or regressing their learning aren't actually very valid, because they've exaggerated the attitude that sexual education is addressed within schools to a comical point. It's not that students are no longer able to learn at all because there's like a kind of frivolous attitude dealt towards sex.

But, in terms of a second response, kids should be allowed to laugh and should be allowed to treat sexual education with some deal of positivity, or a bit of like humour, because how can you teach children about a serious topic, and try to be serious all the time, and try to push it as something that they can't laugh about? They're not going to take that seriously, if they're basically banned from saying anything about it that can be taken seriously as a joke? Students will joke about any subject, but the way that students would joke about sexual education, it doesn't mean that students learn less, because they'll still be learning from the teachers. It doesn't mean that it's devalued sexual education.

Because even laughing about a subject doesn't mean that the student considers the subject to be completely useless. Students can make a joke about mental health. But, it doesn't mean that they don't consider mental health to be something that needs to be learned. And, what they would be joking about mental health doesn't completely negate the actual importance of the topic. And, they would understand that.

So, for example, in the same case, mental health would be an important topic to teach. And, students aren't allowed to pull their - parents aren't allowed to pull their own children out of mental health classes, because they're also equally important. And, you can't provide this very exaggerated argument of an improper attitude towards schools.

And also, I want to say, as a third response, is that the way that the affirmative team has framed it is that an improper attitude, an improper environment towards sexual education is not unique to only the negative case. Why can't parents, for example - it doesn't have to be a frivolous improper attitude, but maybe it's an attitude of absolutely being completely close minded and closemouthed about sex, and not allowed to talk about sex to your children before the age of 18. And, it's seen as very taboo by the parent. Isn't that an improper attitude towards teaching sex?

And, I'll go into the actual demographics of parents that would be present in this - that are present, and that would probably be the ones pulling the children out, and how actually they're the ones that could be causing more harm. And so, it's not very true, the exaggeration of the improper attitude and environment. And, we've already mitigated and proven that it's not actually unique.

They also talk about how because it's standardised, you can't give the actual proper personal beliefs that the parents want to teach their children. But, we believe, again, this is not a unique thing, that parents are completely not allowed to have any say in their children's sexual education under the status quo, or that we are promoting, because why can't a child learn a holistic sexual education, and learn about STDs, and learn about sexual diseases, and all the issues that they need to learn about sex?

And, why can't the parent, when they're at home with their child, they have a personal discussion with, I believe that birth control is inappropriate, I believe it's against my beliefs, and you should believe that too. This is why. This is why. But, it doesn't have to be unique to just having the parents being able to take out the children from school. Why can't you have both the parents being able to talk to their own children once they get from school, and you have the benefit as well of the children having the education at school for the benefits that my first speaker has talked about, of them having the proper resources, and them having the proper scientific views that are needed to actually address sexual education.

And also, how this might dismiss parents from actually having a say in sexual education, we believe this isn't true, again, because parents will still have a say once the children get home. And, parents are a figure of authority and respect to the children. And, we believe what they would say about sexual education to them would be respected, but they could still have the same once the children are out of school, or have come home from school and see what the child is learning. And, then you'd be like, I believe this is wrong. And, they can have an educated discussion about that. It doesn't have to be the parent only taking the child out.

And, the second point that the team's brought up about parents having the unique right to being able to take their child out and give them their own education. So, this is all to introduce the demographics of parents that would pull a child out of sexual education. One is a parent who would want to educate the child themselves because they believe they want a different education, and want to have different beliefs instilled in the child. And, the other type of parent would be the parent that doesn't want their child to be exposed to sexual education at all, and so they've taken their child out for that reason.

And so, we believe that these will be the actual 2 demographics that will come into play under this model that the affirmative team is trying to introduce, and that they actually both show that there's a big inherent flaw in terms of taking the child out of the sexual education that they could be benefiting from in school. And so, why did the affirmative team say the parents have the right? They said it's the parents responsibility to be educated about this. And, they have the right to teach the personal beliefs and values about sexual education. And, it's a very personal thing.

Well, first of all, if it's a responsibility to be educated under the demographic of the parent not wanting the child at all, the child wouldn't actually get this information. And, they would resort to sources like the internet and other sources to actually go and learn about sexual education. And, that has its own toxic results, as my first speakers explained.

In terms of the parent that wants to teach their own child, and their responsibility to be educated, there's a flaw in this, because parents might have outdated information. Parents have now had the responsibility put on them unduly and in addition to work, in addition to chores, and raising their children just to teach them about sexual education, because they have to teach - in this case, they would have to teach all that's being taught in schools, including safe sex and that stuff. So, you can't really put this pressure on the parents that do want to educate their children.

And, about the personal beliefs and values, again, it's as I mentioned before, it's not unique to the situation.

[Bell]

And, thank you.

[Applause]

ELLIOT DOBLE: Hello, I would just like to identify 3 major clashes in the debate today. The first one is whether parents are qualified to make the decision to take students out of sexual education classes. The second one is whether school is a suitable environment to learn about sexual education for certain students. And then, the third one is, will students be negatively affected if they are taken out of sexual education classes at school?

So, for first clash, whether parents are qualified to make this decision, the negative team has argued that parents will use this right to take students out of sexual education as a way to completely neglect them from sexual education, not give them any information about it, and then in turn harm them by not giving them information about things like STDs, contraception, and stuff like that. And, this will be harmful.

However, we believe that parents are informed individuals. They're adults. They've been through school. They've been through sexual education themselves. They know what it's like.

They understand their children better than teachers do. They understand how mature their child is. They understand factors that may influence how they see sexual education and how they will be affected by it. And, we believe that they also understand the children's values, as they're often similar to themselves, whether that's religion or sexuality, or stuff like that.

And, because parents are informed about not only their children, about like sex ed in general normally and their children's values, that they do have the right, but also the responsibility to take kids out of sexual education, as they have the responsibility to ensure the children of an adequate education. And, we as the affirmative team believe that an adequate education is not standardised. And, it is definitely unique to many students.

And, this is especially true in the case of sexual education, as it is such a sensitive topic, and it is related to so many factors and values, such as sexuality, such as religion, and just other beliefs around that.

And so, this is why parents are more qualified. Well, not qualified in the sense of a degree, but like in the emotional sense normally, which is important since sex ed is so emotional and so sensitive.

The second clash is whether school is a suitable place for kids to learn about sex. And, the negative team has argued that this sort of like frivolous attitude is not very harmful and is not going to really have a negative effect on attitudes towards sex ed. And, it's quite light hearted.

They have also argued that even though sex ed has this frivolous attitude during school, it's less stigmatised at school. And, it's more like an unbiased place to learn about sex ed. And, it's good that it's standardised.

However, as the affirmative team, we believe that not only is sex ed - so the attitude towards sex ed is not just frivolous. It's immature. You've got a bunch of 14-year-olds sitting in class talking about genitals, and sex, and da da da. Kids are notorious for being immature. It's in their nature. It's normal.

And, however, this combined with the mission of information that sex ed has in the status quo that my second speaker has identified, such as heteronormativity, STDs, and et cetera is harmful. And, it's unrealistic to assume that children being distracted by - if this attitude exists, this culture around sex ed exists at school, it's unrealistic to assume that they're still going to have all the information. And, it's unrealistic to assume that their attitude towards sex ed will be still biassed, even though the way that they're learning about sex ed and the curriculum is standardised. It's just unrealistic to assume.

Third clash. Will students be negatively affected by being taken out of school? This is sort of similar to the third clash in that the negative team, sorry, has argued that they'll have no information, the kids that are taken out of school. And, they'll be very misinformed. And, this is harmful.

While we agree that being not informed - uninformed, sorry, is harmful, we believe that in certain cases, such as when a student has quite strong beliefs because of their religion or because their sexuality is completely ignored during the class, we believe that in these certain cases it is more beneficial for a student to not be in these classes, especially when this is immature and harmful attitude towards sex ed in the classroom.

So, it's not like everyone's going to be taken out of sex ed, and the kids who will benefit from sex ed in school are going to be taken out, and no one's going to have any information and the parents are going to take advantage of this. It's that in certain cases when religion, sexuality, other belief systems, et cetera are going to influence and be negatively affected in a sex ed classroom, these children will be taken out by the parents who are informed adults, who understand their children. And, they will be educated in another form that's more appropriate to them. And, this is obviously not less beneficial than - it's probably more beneficial than a sex ed class in school.

The negative team-- affirm-- no, negative team, sorry, has sort of tried to negate this by saying that, well, why can't children have both? Why can't they have this standardised education about sex ed-- about sex, sorry, and then have their conversations are more subjective, more sensitive at home with their children?

However, we didn't say this was impossible. We said that parents had the right and the responsibility to choose whether the kid has just the standardised education.

INTERCOM: This is an announcement to all students.

ELLIOT DOBLE: Just . . .

INTERCOM: Lunch time is over. Please make your way -

ELLIOT DOBLE: Just the standardised education, just the education at home. Although, it's possible for children to have both. And, we think that it's a responsibility to ensure - it's the responsibility of the parents, and also the right of the parents to judge which is more suitable for their child, as they know them best. And, that is why I'm proud to affirm.

[Applause]

YUNGI LEE: In the current status quo, we see schools providing a high quality education to students. We see 13 to 18-year-olds who are most vulnerable to unsafe sexual environments, being taught a standardised and professional syllabus. And hence, we as a negative team believe parents shouldn't be able to withdraw children from sexual education in high school.

So, I believe this debate came into 2 main issues. One, the principal issue of whether the government's duty of care overrides the parent's freedom of choice. And, if our side of the house is able to prove why the government's duty of care overrides a parent's judgement, then we essentially win the first issue. And also, the second issue being whether the education system on sexual education at schools is good or bad in comparison to other resources. And again, if our side of the house is able to prove why the school education system is uniquely good, we will win the second issue, and essentially, ultimately, win the debate.

So, with the first principal issue of the government's duty of choice in comparison to parent's judgement, the opposition came out. And, their big principal idea was that the parents can make choices for their kids, how the parents reserve the right to make choices for the kids. Now, we have 2 main responses to this, but a lot more as I continue.

But, our 2 main responses to this is that the parent's choice can reflect their personal beliefs and values. And, that may not correlate with what a child's value is. And, if I give an example, for example, like a gay student who hasn't come out to their conservative parents can get taught extremely biassed and harmful sexual education from their parents, which isn't relevant to them, and thus, becomes inherently harmful.

We believe the parents' values shouldn't be reflected on to the child when they're making their own values and beliefs on sexual education, which is why we believe a parent's judgement is not valid in this argument. Additionally, even if this is true, we believe the parents and the government have basically the same one, which is to protect the child, right? And, we believe the government in this situation can teach sexual education better than most parents, as our first speaker and second speaker have stated, due to their syllabus being more standardised, and then having more resources and times in comparison to parents. Which is why we believe in this situation, their point is invalid.

Now, additionally, however, they told us how the standardised system in Australia goes against individualistic values. However, what the opposition's model is pushing on is not individualistic values of the child, but rather individualistic values of the parents. We believe the parents' values may not always align with the child, especially due to like a culture or traditional difference, which is why we believe we shouldn't be pushing these parents' individualistic values on to the kids.

And additionally, we aren't proposing that students should not be able to talk to their parents about sexual education. We are still giving children the opportunity to talk about sex openly to their parents, but also, in addition to them, providing them a standardised education system which is objective and neutral, which allows children to make their own beliefs rather than basing it off their parents' beliefs.

They also stated how their model allows the children to have a choice. However, their model doesn't allow children to have a choice in what type of sexual education they receive. But rather, it allows the parents to get a choice. And, number 2, we aren't sure why a child's choice is relevant, because this is an education system that is essential, and as unsafe sexual environments is inevitable in current society.

And, if I give an example, mental health is taught in PE class. Even if it's an uncomfortable and taboo subject for kids, it's still taught in class. Why? Because it's essential. It's an inevitable topic. It's a topic that students must learn. And thus, we don't believe why mental health is tolerable for students to learn, but not sexual education, which is why we believe that argument is not mutually exclusive.

They also stated that-- they told us that if parents believe that they are unqualified to teach sexual education, then they will keep the child in sex ed in high school. This is a very big mischaracterization, because a large demographic of these parents don't want kids to get sexual education at all due to their beliefs, whether it be because of their culture or religion. And thus, if they don't agree with such standardised sexual education classes, and believe they are unqualified, then they just won't send their kids to any sex ed class, because they believe their child doesn't need it.

And so, I think both teams believe that children not receiving sex ed is inherently harmful. And, that is essentially what their model is proposing, which is why we believe that this point is invalid. They also stated that - basically all they told us was that the parents share the same values with their children.

Now, this is not necessarily true, because we don't believe a parent's values ultimately reflect the child's values, because these are high school kids. They're exploring their own sexuality. They're forming their own values. And thus, we don't believe that what the parent wants is essentially always what the child wants. And, even if this is true, we're not shutting off kids from talking about sex with their parents. They can still do that, but just in addition to having a standardised education system so that they can form their own beliefs.

Also, stated how - they questioned whether it's the responsibility of the school or the parents to provide sexual education. And, to answer this question, we think it's the school's responsibility, as the government has a duty of care, as the purpose of school is to teach and protect kids. And, although we do believe the responsibility of the parent is also to protect their child, we think schools can do this better, as they have an objective educational system sourced by pure facts and sourced by professionals. Which is why even if the responsibility of the parent and the duty of care of the government aligns, we believe the government is able to handle this better, which is why we shouldn't be pushing the judgement on to the parents.

They also stated how - now, with the second practical issues, the opposition came up to us and told us how the formal environment of sexual education may not be the best suited for children. However, most kids, we believe, probably find talking about sex and STDs with their fellow peers and teachers a lot more comfortable than talking about it with their parents.

And, even if this isn't the case, again, as I've stated previously, kids aren't banned from talking about sex with their parents. They can still do that in an informal environment. It's just that our model also ensures that they are given a good quality, high quality educational system that they can also use.

They also stated how there is currently a stigma around sex. And, we believe not talking about it through a compulsory course promotes more of this stigmatisation and promotes more of a negative portrayal of safe sex.

They also stated how parents can teach kids at home. However, we believe this is unlikely to happen just because there are 2 demographics of these parents, right? There's Number 1: parents who won't teach at home because they have no time or resources, or it either goes against their values. And, Number 2, parents who will teach at home, but we believe that parents won't be able to effectively teach sexual education at home, just because of the fact that schools might have less time, less resources on their hand, as compared to schools where they have a lot more resources and professionals.

They also stated that - they also told us something about the LGBTQ community, and how that the content can be irrelevant. However, many kids who need school sexual education, it's because - many kids who do require sexual education at school is because these kids haven't come out to their parents yet and are in an environment at home where the parents aren't really open to these LGBTQ ideas, which is why we believe our model allows children to have this high quality sexual education regardless of their sexuality.

They also stated how sexual education should be personal. And, due to the fact that sexual education should be personal, we believe children should have the right to make their own beliefs, and form their own beliefs, rather than having the parents' beliefs being pushed on to them.

They also told us how - they gave us an example of how someone's culture may go against birth control. However, as I've stated, sexual education isn't promoting anything. It's not promoting sex. It's not promoting birth control. It's rather teaching these kids about the harms and consequences of sex and birth control, and which is why we believe just because a kid attends sexual education, they suddenly won't want to have sex, or want to involve themselves in sexual education. We're taught at sex ed that abstinence is the best method for prevention.

They also stated how the standardised system is not good. But again, we believe a standardised system is better than a biassed system, which pushes a parents' values on. They also stated how parents experience sexual education themselves, so they know what's best. However, this is a different generation we're talking about. Information has become more updated. We are living in a different society, which is why a parent's experience cannot be an excuse for them to push their own beliefs on,to their child.

They also stated that sex ed should be . . .

[Bell]

For these reasons, we are proud to negate.

[Applause]

ANNA-SOPHIA ZAHAR: First of all, I'd just like to say, congratulations for both teams what was an extremely good final debate. You have all done an incredible job by just getting here. That's amazing. And, the whole panel of adjudicators was incredibly impressed by your performance today.

And, we'd all like to note that we think this topic was probably a little bit tricky and maybe a bit difficult to talk about for many of the reasons you guys talked about as well. And so, like a further congratulations for managing that so well and giving such an excellent debate.

So, how is this going to work is I'll quickly run through the reasons for the decision of this final debate, and then I'll announce the result. So, I'll keep everyone in a little bit of suspense. Before I do this, however, I'd like to point out that while it was a close, but clear decision, the whole panel gave this unanimously to the winning team.

OK? So, the panel saw this debate fall into 2 main clashes. So firstly, who had the right to teach these kids sexual education? Was it parents or was it schools? And secondly, what is the better place to learn sex ed?

So firstly, looking at who had this right. The affirmative team pushes in this debate the line that because sexuality is very individual, sex ed should be able to be taught in a private place to meet the individual needs of young people. It is a little bit unclear specifically what this means in this debate about why individualism is so specific to things - oh, sorry, why individualism means that it has to be taught by parents. And, I think that the negative team does an interesting job of coming in here and saying that kids are still developing their own values, because they're in high school and they're quite young. And, they've got the right to decide their own values. So, what parents individually might think is not always the same, and in most cases is quite different, to what kids think.

The affirmative team then tells us that because parents have like the right to educate their kids in a way that aligns with their values or their religion, then it's important that parents teach kids this sex ed in the space of their home. So, the panel thought that here the negative team, again, did a good job to say that because these values are different that right is not always true. And also, it was a little bit unclear why in all situations parents should have this ability, or had this right, given that kids still had to do things like go to mental health classes.

So, at the end of that, it seemed like, and given that kids could still have conversations with their parents at home about their particular religious values, and so on, it seemed like it was probably possible - sorry, it seemed like there was not necessarily a right that parents had to take their kids at because of their own values.

The negative team tells us here that governments can override any right a parent has over their kids if harm will come to some kid. And, this sort of relies on proving that harm would come, which we'll explore in a second. So, that's something to note, and we'll come back to that at the end of this.

So, secondly now, looking at what would be the better place for kids to learn about sex ed? The affirmative term tells us that schools provide quite an immature environment, which means that kids can't talk about sex properly, because it's very embarrassing, and they're with all their friends, and so on. The negative team has sort of 2 responses to this. Firstly, they say that, well, it's actually not bad to have a bit of a laugh and a joke around sometimes. But also, it would just be worse, and a lot more awkward, if you do it with your parents.

So, the panel thought both these responses were pretty good. It probably was true that it's not necessarily bad to be super serious about things like sex all the time. And also, on the comparative, it would probably be a lot more awkward. And, we would have liked this to be engaged a little bit more by the affirmative term.

So, secondly then, the affirmative team tells us that sex ed classes at school can be bad because there's a lot of information that's omitted, for example, information about LGBT sex and so on, and that it's incredibly heteronormative. The panel would like to note that it wasn't really clear why this was necessarily true, but given the sort of claim made by the affirmative team, it was also a little bit unclear why it would be better for these kids to be at home having these discussions with their parents. And, this became sort of more of an issue when the negative team tells us that a lot of the time the students that benefit from the sex ed the most are LGBT students, that rely on this at school because they've got quite conservative parents and can't get it at home.

So, in terms of omitted information, while we thought this was a really excellent argument made by the affirmative, once again, it was unclear about why the alternative would necessarily be better, because we're not really presented with an alternative that does seem better.

So, let's look at the alternative that the negative team tells us will happen. They tell us there's sort of 2 versions of parents. The first type is that they don't teach their kids anything, and the second type who teach their kids something.

So, on those that don't really teach their kids anything, it seemed to be bad because kids would turn to the internet instead and then get a very toxic and negative understanding of what sex is like that could harm them. And, for the parents that did teach their kids things, these were unlikely to be helpful, because they aligned with the parents values, which were not necessarily the same as the kids'.

So, on this, it seems like that the parents that did choose to take their kids out of schools were not necessarily going to give their kids a good education, even if it was important for it to be individualised. And, it was more likely that kids would get a more harmful understanding of sex from this.

So, on the negative then, they tell us that teachers, in opposition - sorry, teachers in comparison, are much more professional, and are much better equipped to teach things like sex ed. And, they give us a number of reasons why that's true, because they're more professional, because they have standardised textbooks, because they prevent a nuanced version of sex, and because they've gone through training to deal with kids like this. These all seemed like probably quite good reasons why kids would be able to do this well.

The affirmative team tells us that parents are better qualified because they are more like emotionally in tune with their kids. But, from the examples that the negative team gives us, it seems quite true that parents might have conflicting ideas with their kids, and might not teach them the things that are most beneficial for their kids in all circumstances.

So then, the negative team tells us that there is an additional benefit of talking about sex ed in school, which relieves or reduces stigma about sex. And, that gets worse if kids can't talk about it in school with their friends.

So while that didn't really get a lot of airtime in the debate, the panel thought that was a pretty good argument as well, and was probably like an extra benefit that the negative team provides in this debate. So, at the end of this, given that kids could probably still have a conversation about values with parents, so parents would get some input, it seemed like the negative team was also able to claim the benefit of parents interacting with their kids without entirely relying on their parents to perform this educ - sorry, to educate their kids about sex.

So, it did seem like it was probably better for the government to step in, because on the alternative, it seemed like some kids at least would be harmed by being pulled out of sexual education. So, because we thought that the negative team were able to show that like the government could override parents' right, if it existed, to teach their kids this, and secondly, that schools were probably better places than the home to teach it, the panel gave this debate, in a unanimous decision, to the negative team.

But congratulations, both teams. You all did an absolutely excellent job. And, I'll hand over to Justine.

[Applause]

JUSTINE CLARKE: Thank you Anna-Sophia, for that very comprehensive adjudication. Congratulations, James Ruse. Commiserations, Cammeraygal. You did a really great job. And, I'm going to hand over to Cammeraygal to now congratulate the winning team.

MILANA DUCHENNE: So firstly, I would just like to say, congratulations. You guys did amazing in this debate. It was really difficult, and I think we all did really well, and you guys were just genuinely really amazing. And, I know that this was a very stressful debate because it's the finals. And, you guys did just really well. So, thank you for this great debate.

[Applause]

JUSTINE CLARKE: Thank you. And, James Ruse, do you have a speaker who can respond?

DANIEL HWANG: Yeah, I'd like to thank The Arts Unit for this opportunity to compete. I'd like to thank all the teachers and officials involved. And I'd like to thank our debating couch, Mr. Truong.

And, I most importantly, would like to thank the other team for coming to this debate, having a really wonderful debate. I think it's safe to say that all of us have been improved quite a lot through this experience. So yeah, thank you, Cammeraygal, for a great debate. I think we've learned a lot. And, we wish you the best of luck with your future debate endeavours. Thank you.

[Applause]


End of transcript