Sex education has been a topic of much controversy and debate over the past decade. It has been presented in many shapes and forms in respect to local schools and state policy. Undoubtedly, culture has a great impact on the information given and taught in schools regarding sex education. Despite the variability in one’s culture and religion, sexual identity and orientation is a real current issue that at all types of people, regardless of their background, struggle with.
To censor the amount of information in sex education being taught to American youth, especially regarding emerging queer identities, is harmful when limited knowledge fails to help them explore their identities. Adolescence is a time for discovery and exploration of who one is as a person. Even though they may not identify themselves as queer, it is important to be educated on all forms of sex and identities.
Sex education ought to not only be informative and accurate, but also relevant. Yet, the New York Times reports that only about 5 percent of students are taught positive information about LGBTQ+ people or issues in their health classes. Moreover, sex education deals with lessons on sexuality, gender, puberty, anatomy, pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, relationships and more. Yet, many queer students fail to find pertinent information about their identities and bodies that would help them during adolescence.
Including queer sex education encourages equality among students. To educate students with both straight sex and queer sex would prevent the sense of prejudice against queer individuals. While support for gay people has increased because there has been greater visibility of the queer community with parades and events that celebrate homosexuality, there are many adults who are not educated about or aware of homosexuality as an identity. Some continue to believe that homosexuality is a psychological condition or disorder instead of a natural way of life.
The discrimination and prejudice that gay people face in the present day is strongly correlated to the education that students receive in the schools that they attend, because that is where they first learn about sexuality and gender. To dismiss the fact that being queer is a real identity automatically condones discrimination against queer children. Youths will recognize that it is OK to be queer if queer sex education is introduced in educational facilities.
Refusal to include queer identities does not necessarily make them invisible. Although sexual fluidity is a stigmatized topic, the reality is that not all children feel sex education adequately encompasses who they are and what they need to learn. Censored sex education suppresses who these children believe they truly are and what they cannot change. Not only does the act of censorship marginalize queer-identifying groups, but it also leads to a social environment conducive to peer bullying.
Ultimately, queer sex education should be introduced to schools because American youth ought to have the right to know more about their health and sexuality. Statistics show that queer youth are five times more likely than their nonqueer peers to search for sexuality information online. At the critical time of adolescence, sex education can help students learn more about their bodies and health. Most sex education curriculum includes the fact that straight sex involves penetration and oral sex. There is little to no education, however, about other forms of sex. A more accurate and informative sex curriculum can help those who are in the dark about sex and relationships because of their queer identity.
National sexuality education standards ought to be widespread among state curricula. Moreover, sex education should vary depending on the age of the children and how susceptible they are to the information being introduced to them, in distinction to blatant censorship of information.
Queer sex education is just as important as straight sex education. Although the queer community is often marginalized, there is an undeniable population of queer folks. They deserve a sex education that will help them as much as it would help others. All sex orientations are equal and deserves the same amount of attention.
Yumin Hu is a student from the University of British Columbia.