Gender, sex and sexuality are more complex concepts than people might think. This lesson helps students to build their knowledge of how these concepts differ and overlap, and to understand why this knowledge is important. It also provides students with basic terminology for discussing issues around gender, sex and sexuality in respectful and sensitive ways.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

SEL Competencies

Social awareness

Learning intention

Students can explain the differences between gender, sex and sexuality, and understand why this is important when it comes to being respectful, inclusive and appreciative of others.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the differences between gender, sex and sexuality

  • analyse others’ experiences of navigating gender and sexuality

  • recognise behaviours that demonstrate respect for and appreciation of difference and diversity.

Materials needed

  • Butcher's paper

  • Students' devices

  • Students' workbooks

  • Blank pieces of paper

  • Access to resources The difference between gender, sex and sexuality and Warren's story about identifying as transgender

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Analyse and reflect on the influence of values and beliefs on the development of identities (AC9HP8P01)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and social capability:

    • Social awareness

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Investigates effective strategies to promote inclusivity, equality and respectful relationships (PD4-3)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Investigate the impact of transition and change on identities (VCHPEP123)

Show details

Activity 1

Brainstorm: What do these terms mean to you?

20 minutes

To help you feel more confident in understanding the differences between gender, sex and sexuality, in answering challenging questions, and in facilitating respectful and inclusive classroom discussions throughout the lesson, we recommend you access the following:

  1. Place four sheets of butcher’s paper around the room, each with one of the following headings at the top of the page:

    • Gender identity

    • Gender expression

    • Sexuality

    • Sex assigned at birth

  2. Separate students into four groups.

  3. Groups spend two minutes at each poster before rotating to the next one. Students write down what they know about each term. It could be a word they associate with it, how they define it, what it means to them, or examples of it.

  4. Once finished, students in the last group read out some of the answers on their poster. Identify any areas where there is a duplication or crossover between two or more terms, and discuss whether these are duplications, misinterpretations or misunderstandings of the terms.

  5. Discuss with the class the different spaces, places or sources where they have ‘learnt’ about what these terms mean or have seen examples of them.

Debrief: This activity can be used to establish what students already know and think about when it comes to gender, sex and sexuality. It can also act as a springboard to explain that, while people may have different ideas about what the terms mean, each one refers to something specific and they all differ in certain ways. The next activity will explore these differences in more detail.

Activity 2

The Gender Unicorn: Breaking down differences

20 minutes

Explain to students that they will be reading a article titled The difference between gender, sex and sexuality. The article includes the Gender Unicorn graphic, which is a handy tool designed by Trans Student Education Resources to help us break down the differences between gender, sex and sexuality. (Note: ‘Sexuality’ is also referred to as ‘attraction’.)

  1. In pairs or small groups, students read the article, examine the Gender Unicorn graphic, and discuss the following questions:

    • Why is the unicorn thinking about the rainbow symbol for gender identity? (Gender identity is how we feel about our own gender – e.g. our internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s).)

    • Why are the green dots all around the unicorn and not in its thoughts? (Gender expression is what's visible about your gender to others – e.g. how you dress, walk, talk, body shape, and more.)

    • Why doesn’t the ‘sex assigned at birth’ category have an arrow? (Concepts like gender identity and gender expression are on a spectrum or range, while sex assigned at birth is a fixed category.)

    • What factors can shape a person’s physical and emotional attraction to someone? (Both forms of attraction can come from a variety of factors, such as gender identity, gender expression, or the sex the person was assigned at birth, as well as from personality or having things in common.)

  2. Have students share their responses with the class and discuss the following questions:

    • Why is it important to know the differences between these terms?

    • How can a tool like the Gender Unicorn be helpful for people?

    • Is there anything you feel is missing from the Gender Unicorn? (For example, intersex people have a diversity of bodies and gender identities, so having one dot may not capture their experience or how they indentify.)

Debrief: By exploring how these terms differ and overlap, students can learn more about themselves and others, and why it’s important to be respectful and inclusive of diversity.

Activity 3

Case study: Warren's story

15 minutes

Explain to students that they are going to watch a video about a young person called Warren who will talk about his experience as a transgender man. Inform students that being transgender means the sex a person is assigned at birth doesn’t match the gender they identify as.

  1. Play the video clip Warren’s story about identifying as transgender.

  2. In pairs, students discuss the following questions:

    • What did Warren talk about that stood out to you most?

    • What pronouns does Warren use, and why is this important to his self-identity?

    • How did Warren's parents and friends respond to him coming out?

    • What factors have shaped Warren’s positive experiences of being a transgender man?

    • What advice does Warren have for people navigating their sexuality or gender?

  3. As a class, students share their answers.

  4. For more stories and information about the diverse experiences of young people navigating and celebrating their gender and sexuality, direct students to’s Gender and Sexuality topics.

Activity 4

3-2-1 exit tickets

5 minutes

  1. At the end of the lesson, students complete a 3-2-1 exit ticket by writing down the following on a blank piece of paper:

    • Three things they learnt from the lesson.

    • Two things they found interesting and would like to learn more about.

    • One question they still have about the material.

  2. Collect your students' exit tickets on their way out of the classroom.

Debrief: When learning about topics such as gender and sexuality, it’s natural for young people to be curious and to ask a lot of questions. It’s important to review their responses, which you can use to help develop future lessons or to determine if any material needs to be taught again.


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