Safe(r) schools & families for students with intersex variations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Students with intersex variations—congenital atypical sex characteristics (chromosomal, hormonal and/ or anatomical)—face a highly significant risk of early educational drop-out. This paper draws on data from the first national study of 272 people with intersex variations to explore the complex dynamics of relationships and school safety for this group. Most participants learned of their variations aged under 18yrs and many experienced a period of suicidal ideation in the aftermath, but inter-family secrecy hindered many individuals’ knowledge of variations in their families or access to family-based support. Few participants
disclosed their variations to school staff, although more than half had to their classmates. Appropriate school counselling services/ sex education inclusion were lacking. Only a quarter of participants rated their school experiences positively and many reported bullying related to having a variation. This paper argues that, given the lack of information from medical services and potential tensions in families surrounding intersex variations, schools are the most logical place for both generalised and specific dissemination of information about intersex variations and puberty differences. This could enhance safety and strengthen relationships and retention for students with intersex variations, whilst improving general understanding of the complexity of human sex traits for all students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association Refereed Proceedings of TASA 2016 Conference
Subtitle of host publicationCities and Successful Societies
EditorsMark Chou
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherThe Australian Sociological Association
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780646964805
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventThe Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association: Cities & Successful Societies - The Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 28 Nov 20161 Dec 2016


ConferenceThe Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association
Abbreviated titleTASA 2016 Conference


  • intersex
  • family
  • school
  • student


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