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Non-binary youth and binary sexual consent education: unintelligibility, disruption and possibility

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gender-based violence, non-binary, consent education, sexuality education, sexual violence prevention, settler colonialism, youth

Abstract (summary)

This paper theorises the ways in which non-binary gender is rendered invisible through binary Yes/No sexual consent education. Judith Butler’s framework of gender intelligibility is drawn upon to consider the absenting of non-binary youth from consent education. We suggest that the undoing of the hegemonic colonial gender binary also be a project of consent education. Consent education is often taught through a highly gendered lens underscored by the ‘miscommunication hypothesis,’ which posits normative binary gender roles as the underlying cause of sexual violence and fails to account for how non-binary youth experience and navigate consent. Furthermore, we examine how binary Yes/No consent education negates non-binary gender by rejecting the grey area of consent. The dismissal of grey area experiences is problematic for non-binary youth as ambiguity around consent may be more prevalent amongst non-binary people due to increased experiences of trauma and the common experience of gender dysphoria. Despite this invisiblisation, non- binary people have formulated their own modes for navigating sexual pleasure and consent. We call for more research into how non-binary youth are invisibilised by binary consent education as well as how these youth are challenging normative consent and reimagining sexual cultures that centre interdependence, mutual pleasure, and care.

Publication Information

Wright, J., & Greenberg, E. (2023) Non-binary youth and binary sexual consent education: unintelligibility, disruption and possibility. Sex Education,


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