Sex vs. Sexuality

To understand what affects your child’s sexual health and development, it’s important to understand the difference between sex and sexuality. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, sex is just one part of a person’s sexuality.

Sex

Sex is the biological characteristics that identify people as male or female at birth. While most people are either clearly male or female, some have the biological characteristics of males and females (e.g., someone born with both a penis and a uterus).

The term is often used to mean ‘sexual activity’ or ‘sexual intercourse’. In this website, we use the term ‘sex’ when talking about males and females, and ‘sexual activity’ when talking about behaviours like kissing and intercourse.

Sexuality

Sexuality is an important and central part of every human being. A person’s sexuality includes everything from their biological sex, gender identity and sexual orientation to pregnancy and reproduction. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.

As a parent, you teach your child about sexual health, not just sex. Sexual health includes things like personal hygiene, healthy relationships, sexuality and consent.

A person’s sexual health includes their physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. Taking care of your sexual health is an important part of your overall health and wellness.

Teaching sexual health means making sure your child has the knowledge, skills and ability to protect their health and the health of others, now and later on.

The Sexuality Wheel

The Sexuality Wheel shows how broad the idea of sexuality really is. Each part of the wheel represents 1 part of who we are, and how these parts are all connected and influenced by each other. The boxes on the left side of the wheel show who we are by nature, while the ones on the right show who we are taught or who we learn to be. When all parts of the wheel are healthy, our sexuality is healthy.

 

Scroll over the red boxes to learn more about each term.

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