Mis-education of Australian youth: exposure to LGBTQA+ conversion ideology and practises

Tiffany Jones, Timothy W. Jones, Jennifer Power, Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Nathan Despott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual (LGBTQA+) Australians are vulnerable to religion-based attempts to change or suppress their sexuality and/or gender identity, including conversion ideology messaging in school-based sex education. Conversion bans are currently being debated across the country. This paper reports on a critical survivor-driven study which retrospectively explored Australian LGBTQA+ youth exposure to conversion practices both within and outside of education settings. It privileges the perspectives of self-titled ‘survivors’ of conversion
ideology and practices through the use of a reference group and constructivist grounded theory. Qualitative data were collected 20 from Australian LGBTQA+ conversion ideology and/or practice survivors aged 18 years and over, using focus groups and 35 individual interviews between 2016 and 2020. In conversion-promoting religious contexts including education institutions and groups, messages concerning sexuality and gender changed as individuals grew older and were drawn into more/enclosed settings in which core conversion messages of LGBTQA+ ‘brokenness’ were prevalent. While individuals progressed through the conversion experience in different ways, their experience was characterised by the absence of any form of affirming LGBTQA+ education – enabling conversion itself to become their LGBTQA+ (mis)information source. School policy addressing conversion, alongside enhanced provision of affirmative age-appropriate gender and sexuality education, may mediate this issue.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalSex Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2021


  • LGBT
  • sexuality
  • gender
  • change
  • suppression
  • therapy
  • conversion
  • religion
  • ex-gay
  • trans
  • diversity
  • leximancer
  • education
  • school


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