New research highlights Rainbow youth views on healthy relationships and consent in Aotearoa

Tue 18 May 2021

New research explores what young people in Rainbow communities say they want and need from healthy relationships and consent education.

A collaboration between Waikato Queer Youth (WaQuY) and Hohou te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence (HTRK–OV)has resulted in new research on Healthy relationships and consent: through the lens of Rainbow identifying youth (2021).  

The authors of the report note that:

"Recent Ministry of Education guidelines have significantly increased the encouragement for schools to provide safe places for young people with diverse sexualities and genders via culturally appropriate and inclusive sexuality education. The guidelines note that sexuality education must respond to shifting social norms around gender and sexuality. 

In light of this context, it’s not surprising WaQuY has received persistent calls for support in healthy relationships from Rainbow young people. This project attempts to provide more information to address the gap between what is available and what we need."

They comment that:

"Perhaps the most challenging finding from our research is that Rainbow young people, particularly trans young people, are currently bearing the brunt of managing and protecting themselves from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia at home, at school and in the community. Being able to develop healthy identities and relationships in this context is very difficult indeed. Rainbow young people in our research talked about managing trauma from bullying and discrimination inside their relationships, families and friendship groups."

The report makes the following recommendations:

  1. "Rainbow young people need respect, space and information to support who they are
  2. Healthy relationships and consent education material and programmes for universal audiences must include diverse Rainbow identities and relationships
  3. Rainbow young people need visible pathways to support
  4. Delivery of healthy relationships and consent education material must support all Rainbow identities and relationships
  5. Rainbow young people need online resources about Rainbow relationships and consent
  6. Rainbow young people want healthy relationships material that supports friendships and other non-romantic relationships
  7. Peer pressure education must include pressure around sexuality and gender identity
  8. Development and dissemination of appropriate programs and materials must be guided by best practice supported by Rainbow educational facilitators."

The research builds upon earlier work undertaken by HTRK-OV, which included 18 community hui around Aotearoa New Zealand to ask Rainbow communities what was needed to address partner and sexual violence. Their report, Building Rainbow communities free of partner and sexual violence (2016), identified the need for resources and programmes appropriate for Rainbow people that focused on healthy relationships. 

For information about takatāpui rangatahi (sexuality and gender diverse youth) see our previous news story about the resources developed by Dr Elizabeth Kerekere, Tīwhanawhana Trust and RainbowYOUTH to provide support and information for takatāpui rangatahi and their whānau. 

Related news

A new survey has been launched to gather information about what it’s like to be Rainbow (LGBTQIA+ MVPAFF) or a Rainbow ally/friend in Aotearoa New Zealand today.
The Identify Survey has been developed through a partnership of Rainbow researchers and youth organisations.  

This is an online survey about the experiences of Rainbow young people aged 14-26 years in Aotearoa NZ. The researchers want to understand your experiences of education, employment, and community in order to make Aotearoa a better place for Rainbow young people and younger adults.

The research team say:

"We want to know about what is going well and what needs to change for Rainbow young people and young adults.  This is your opportunity to share your experiences, both good and bad, and make your voice count.  The survey is a partnership of Rainbow researchers and youth organisations. It is by us and for us and focussed on identifying ways to make the world a better place for our Rainbow whānau."

For more informtion about the survey you can contact the team at The survey is available until 30 June 2021. 

Update: Australia-based OurWatch updated their evidence paper on Respectful relationships education in schools (2021) and a brief for policy makers on Respectful relationships education as part of a national approach to preventing gender-based violence (2021).

Update: The US-based National LGBTQ Institute on IPV has published two new publications: Holding Space, Creating Safety, A Toolkit for Facilitating Conversations about Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence for Bisexual Peer Support Groups (2021) and "I didn’t think people would take me seriously”: The Help-Seeking Strategies, Experiences, and Preferences of LGTBQ Survivors of Domestic Violence (2021).

Related media

Govt delivers more wellbeing support to Rainbow young people, Beehive media release, 29.09.2021

How teachers are making classrooms safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ students, 14.06.2021

Image: Photo by Sharon McCutcheon for Pexels

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