Understanding gender and sexuality

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.
Activity 01

Brainstorm: What do these terms mean to you? 20 min

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.