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Mates & Dates

Mates & Dates

The Mates and Dates programme is fully funded by ACC, with the aim of addressing sexual violence, a significant societal problem. International research has shown that school-based prevention activities are more likely to change sexual attitudes and behaviours over other primary prevention activities. The programme’s purpose is to help young people develop healthy and respectful relationships.

Mates and Dates is taught from years 9 to 13 in five-week blocks of 50 minute sessions. Schools can opt into the programme and then trained facilitators, in consultation with the school, deliver the classroom sessions.

The students learn five core themes –

  • healthy relationships

  • consent

  • identity, gender and sexuality

  • when things go wrong

  • keeping safe together.

While the programme provides many valuable insights, it also presents as fact the idea that everyone has an innate gender identity that is more important than their sexed body. Students are rightly taught to “consider gender stereotypes and expectations and how these may affect the way individuals behave”, but they are not encouraged to query why these same gender stereotypes are now being used to classify someone as male or female without reference to their physical bodies. Instead, they are taught to unquestioningly “respect a diverse range of gender identities”.

The programme is delivered by ACC-trained facilitators who often have links to rainbow lobby groups. One observed session for a Y11 class on the topic of consent began with the outside facilitator defining all the various genders people could be. She encouraged the students to contact Rainbow Youth if they had any further queries arising from the lesson.

On its website Rainbow Youth states: “It is very uncommon for a person who is not transgender to reach a point where they are asking themselves “am I transgender?” In our broad experience, the answer is almost always “yes”.If someone feels uncomfortable in their body for whatever reason, Rainbow Youth’s only solution is that they must be transgender. There is no mention on the website or in the Mates and Dates course of the now well-accepted role that social contagion plays in teens adopting diverse gender identities.

The Mates and Dates programme is generally well-received by students because it does provide them with important skills for building healthy relationships. However, if this programme is being used in your local school, be aware of the misrepresentations about identity, gender and sexuality that are being taught, so that you will be able to fully discuss them at home.

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