This article was published on June 23rd, 2021
The need for inclusive sex education in schools is a topic that has not been discussed enough. Sex education in school should be inclusive of all sexualities and genders, but this isn’t the case, and it’s leading to an increase in HIV cases amongst gay people.
Schools are failing LGBT students by not educating them on how to protect themselves from contracting HIV or other STDs because they don’t know what types of sexual practices are considered safe or unsafe. We need to move past sex education solely to focus on issues affecting our community and educate on the issues affecting us in terms of disease, such as drug use and grooming. This is not just an issue facing LGBT+ individuals but also one that many heterosexual individuals face.
“It is essential that LGBTQ+ youth are able to not only learn but thrive in their educational settings. To make this a reality, sex education curriculum must be culturally responsive to the unique needs and realities of LGBTQ youth– and LGBTQ+ youth of color in particular– to ensure they can make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health and future,” said Christine Soyong Harley, President & CEO of SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social Change. “Young people must receive this instruction in classrooms that move beyond shame and stigma to celebrate and affirm the identities of LGBTQ+ youth to create a classroom culture that’s inclusive of all young people. Policymakers and educators must take action now to support LGBTQ+ youth through undertaking the proactive recommendations of the LGBTQ Call to Action.”
It is important to note that our community is primarily affected inversely by drug use, and intravenous drugs are commonly used in gay sex, which increases our chance of becoming infected with HIV, which increases the need for inclusive sex education. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. Why are we not educating about this?
Take, for example, Noah Altman. Noah is an individual who took an HIV test one night at an HIV clinic, and unfortunately, it came back positive. He stated, “Coming from Yuma; I didn’t know what my resources were. I thought HIV/AIDS was a nebulous thing that was not affecting me, so I didn’t seek it out”. This is too common a story amongst LGBTQ+ people.
Noah’s story is not the only story of a gay person who has contracted HIV. Rather, it is the story of many gay people who have not been given the necessary resources to protect themselves against our community’s challenges.
“Time and again, statistics reflect that the LGBTQ community is disproportionately impacted by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and a lack of access to LGBTQ-affirming prevention and treatment services. This is particularly true for Black and Latinx LGBTQ youth. We must address these disparities at their root—inaccurate and outdated sexual health education,” said Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “It is crucial for LGBTQ youth to learn about their sexuality, their bodies, their relationships, and to learn skills for making healthy decisions into adulthood. This report should serve as a tool to encourage educators to create and expand curricula to include the experiences of all marginalized communities.”
If we can teach all kids about different types of sexuality in school, this would reduce the chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. We can do this by educating young people on safe and unsafe sexual practices.
Within the gay community, this is not the only issue affecting our people. We can see that grooming amongst LGBT individuals is at an all-time high. This is because so many gay people feel pressured to present themselves in a certain way. We need to teach all kids about the importance of self-worth and how it’s okay not to be perfect. We really should show them that they are already enough as they are.
LGBTQ+ youth often suffer from depression or other mental illnesses due to the trauma of the coming out experience. This should form part of the LGBT sexual education process because it can help us identify problems and plan to react correctly in our situation.
If there is a lack of education in how grooming and the issues that affect our community, then there will be an issue in helping LGBT youth come to accept themselves and have the tools to confront the issues that affect us.
Grooming is an important topic because our community is affected by youths who do not understand this, and we are not preparing them with the knowledge to identify and understand the process that entails grooming. Without the ability to understand what this is, we cannot effectively fight this practice.
“It is critical that LGBTQ+ youth have access to sex education that gives them the information, resources, and skills they need to thrive. Though the fight for LGBTQ+ rights has led to progress — that progress is threatened by persistent attacks, including an onslaught of anti-trans legislation in states targeting youth,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “So it is all the more urgent that that LGBTQ+ young people feel supported and can see every aspect of their identities reflected and affirmed in sex education. By providing inclusive, safe, and supportive spaces for young people to learn about sex and sexual health, relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, and more.”
Having the ability to identify and address these issues can help to break the cycle of abuse that we all experience in one way or another as LGBTQ community members.