Sexuality and sexual health education for Asian international high school students in New Zealand homestay environments

Lien Trinh1

1 PhD Candidate, University of Otago College of Education

Among approximately 16,000 international students enrolled yearly in New Zealand schools (since 2009), the vast majority are secondary students. Asian students are the largest source of international students compared to those coming from other continents.  Despite the sheer volume of Asian students in the New Zealand school system, there is an apparent lack of attention to their sexuality and sexual health in policy and literature. In this presentation I discuss my ongoing doctoral research examining whether discussion about sexual health takes place between homestay parents and international high school students in New Zealand. The study examines the students’ awareness, attitudes and practices in relation to sexual health, and identifies factors that shape their access to sexual health information in their homestay environments. It also explores school policies, guidelines and practices in this area.  In this presentation I discuss my preliminary findings from interviews with Asian international students, homestay parents and school staff. I begin the presentation by discussing the presence of Asian international students in New Zealand high schools and explaining the study’s rationale. Then, I draw on childhood studies and discourse analytic approaches to discuss the power relations and subject positions that emerged in my interview data, revealing factors that may enable or constrain student and homestay parent communication about sex and sexual health. I discuss participants’ perspectives on school and homestay families’ responsibilities in relation to sexuality education for international high school students, concluding with some suggested implications for policy and practice in New Zealand high schools.


Lien Trinh is currently a PhD student at the University of Otago College of Education.  She previously completed her Master in Public Health (MPH) through the University of Otago, and MA in Communications through University of Hawaii (USA, Fulbright Scholar).  Her MPH thesis focused on abortions amongst Asian women in New Zealand.  Her MA thesis focused on sexual health communications amongst among men-who-have-sex-with-men in Vietnam.  Lien has worked as a research assistant at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine (University of Otago), consultant at United Nations Population Funds (New York USA), and HIV/AIDS Project Manager for DKT International Vietnam.