22.Explore what is meant by sexuality. Identify the different influences on our sexuality.
Copies of Genderbread Person
Sexuality can be a difficult topic to discuss, but it is something which is a big part of young women’s lives as they develop their own sense of their sexuality. The Leader should try to be a facilitator in this activity, allowing the young women to have discussions and interjecting with facts where necessary, rather than leading the conversation.
Create a safe space by introducing the topic but explaining that no-one will be asked to discuss their own sexuality or comment on anyone else’s. This will be an exploration of what is sexuality more broadly.
Set some ground rules about allowing everyone to speak if they want to, but not forcing anyone to if they’re happy to listen.
There are some words used to describe people which may be considered mean or inappropriate. Depending on the group, it may be enough to say that such language should not be used. With other groups, it can sometimes be useful to allow the girls to write down (not say aloud) all of the inappropriate words that they have heard just to get them out in the open. If appropriate language is written on the sheet they can be pointed out and reclaimed. Then it can be put to one side for rest of the discussion.
Suggest that members brainstorm what might be meant by sexuality. It is a broad term and there are no wrong answers. Introduce the Genderbread Person poster to spark discussion, especially about the differences between sex, gender, sexual attraction etc.
Acknowledge that although someone may be born one way, the culture or religious background that they are living in might have an impact on how free they are to express their gender identity or sexuality.
There are many sources of additional support or information for any young women who may have questions. Encourage them to find out more, especially if the group had any questions that no one knew the answers to on the day.
Young people who identify as LGBT are vulnerable to experiencing bullying, mental health problems, or misusing alcohol or other substances. Ensure that the discussion ends with a supportive note, confirming that LGBT young people are welcome in Guiding and that bullying or homophobic attitudes will not be tolerated. If you are concerned about any young person, follow our normal child protection procedures.
BelongTo is a national youth service for LGBTQ young people;
SpunOut.ie has a wealth of information on relationships, sexual health and more;
2in2u is a campaign run by Women’s Aid which focuses on unhealthy dating relationships and includes a relationship survey which young women can take if they are in doubt.
Genderbread Person courtesy of