Sex education is the instruction of anything and everything relating to human sexuality. These include emotions, responsibilities, anatomy, reproduction, contraceptives and abstinence. Sex education is very debatable and is constantly being put in and out of practice.
Where’s the flaw?
In America, sex education is only legal in 22 states and Columbia. Out of these, only 12 teach about contraceptives. However, only 7 require that the information be medically accurate.
When each state in a country has such messy figures, how can we expect better sex education for the youth?
Due to this silly ignorance, there have been surges in sexually transmittable diseases as well as pregnancies in the youth. The numbers of abusive relationships and forced sex are also hiking. Among those who are 18 to 19 years, 41 per cent say they know little to nothing about condoms. Another 75 per cent say they know little to nothing about the contraceptive pill.
On top of all of this, if you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ you face more challenges. Sex education almost always assumes that all their students are heterosexual and non-transgender. What’s worse, they do not mention the various sexual orientations and gender identities that an individual can have. The few that do discuss them, shove them into a negative light.
Not only does this mentally stop the LGBTQ+ student from learning the information and skills they need to have a safe sex life. But they also feel a sense of exclusion amongst their peers. This makes things worse they the community is already a frequent target of bullying and discrimination.
It is absolutely imperative that the youth have access to information of this sort. They have the right to information so that they can further take decisions with regard to their relationships and bodies. Especially when they are so young and susceptible to peer pressure. More so, with the multiple changes in physical and mental being.
Young men who have sex with men, regardless of if their sexual identity, account for almost two-thirds of new HIV infections among the ages 13 to 29. Within this group, men of colour are in more affect. Moreso, men who have sex with men account for two-thirds of new syphilis cases.
Furthermore, the same goes for young women who have sex with other women. They are more likely to contract an STI and are also more likely to become pregnant than those who identify as heterosexual or are questioning. They are also, sadly, more likely to experience coercive sexual contact. Young women who have had both male and female partners are at the highest of risks when talking of coercion and dating violence.
Among the transgender people, HIV rates are more than four times the national average. Transwomen of colour are the most affected. Transgender and gender non-conforming youth also experience high rates of sexual violence, particularly transgender and gender non-conforming youth of colour.
It is because LGBTQ+ youth experience more negative sexual-health outcomes than their heterosexual peers, they would especially benefit from effective and inclusive sex education.
Why the prejudice?
Sex education is often inaccurate. So much so that only 12 states in America discuss sexual orientation, 3 of which require the teaching of inaccurate and negative information.
For example, in Alabama (where’s the surprise), sex teachers much teach students that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public” and that “homosexual conduct is a criminal offence under the laws of the state.” While the supreme court has since removed the law, there’s no clear proof that the teachers have stopped the practice. There are also 7 states where positive discussion of being gay is prohibited in schools. No states currently mandate discussion of gender identity in sex education.
A survey found that only 4 per cent of the LGBTQ+ youth in middle school and high school have any positive discussions about LGBTQ+ people or the issues in their respective health classes. A female senior in high school wrote, “Because my school’s health program ignores the gay students, I have been pretty clueless about safe sex. I had to find information on my own on the internet because non-straight students are ignored.”
Too many schools fail to provide LGBT students with inclusive information, leaving them dangerously underinformed about safer sex and healthy relationships. Leaving out LGBT youth in sex education also implies that they are abnormal or not worthy of inclusion.
Most materials in books contain statements such as, “What do guys talk about in the locker room? (Girls) What do girls talk about at sleepover parties? (Guys).” This type of exclusion contributes to the feelings of isolation and rejection that LGBTQ+ youth experience all too frequently.
Some information goes even further, like one teacher’s manual states, “Any same-sex ‘sexual experimentation’ can be confusing to young persons and should be strongly discouraged.”
In other programs, educators are instructed to call being gay “unnatural” and to tell students that people with HIV or AIDS are “suffering” for the “choice” they made to be gay.
All youth, regardless of place and colour, race and religion deserve to access information that regards them and their being. Same-sex inclusion in sex education is needed to bring up the overall safety and health of the youth and build safer environments for the community.
While India is increasingly backward in the sex education field, we hope someday that sex education will be in provision to students, adults and anyone in the age to access such. We hope the reliance on the internet reduces and that awareness is spreading.