Would it shock you to find out that only four states have laws that require sex ed classes to be inclusive of LGBTQ issues and 12 states require that sexual orientation be a topic in sexual education classes? Not when the statistics show that 39 states and the District of Columbia require sex education and/or HIV education. And only 27 states, including DC require both. So really it is no surprise that schools do not teach about LGBTQ issues. In fact, since the focus is on heterosexual intercourse and virginity, sex ed classes pretty much invalidate the LGBTQ and even worse for the queer and non-binary communities.
With these statistics, it is no surprise that identity and expression are so convoluted to the majority of Americans. We must make a move to have healthier sexual relationships and to do so we absolutely must start to teach sexual education curriculums that encompasses all sexualities without assuming gender. And we must start teaching all kids, trans and queer includes, all avenues for safer sex.
Even our own community needs to learn this, after all many of us are. new to it as well. We were not taught these things in school and if you are my age, they weren’t even a consideration in the school I went to. To be fair, I didn’t learn that gender was not the same as sex until much later in life. So, there are still plenty of rough waters that I navigate. I am going to assume that you may not as well and see if I can share my understandings. Gender is based on how you see yourself, which would be your gender identity. Or it can be based off societal roles that have been passed on to you, creating either a male of female template. Your gender expression does not have to match your genetically assigned sex. That leaves sex as being defined as the biological differences. This includes genitalia, or primary and secondary sexual characteristics, and genetics.
Your gender identity may or may not be in line with your biological sex, but it will not determine your sexual orientation or to the people you may be sexually attracted to. And what is even more important is the fact that you may not identify as just one gender identity. It can change over time or may not include any specific definition. This is also why labels can be damaging and also important, primarily so you do not mis-gender someone. There are plenty of arguments of why we should not use labels, but if all we have to go on is the ideal we are raised or taught to believe, we may end up putting someone into a box that isn’t theirs. Personally, I feel it is better to accept and celebrate the differences as opposed to trying to erase them and treat all people the same. Doing so can often lead to not being able to understand the needs of those that are different.
Another failing point of current sex ed programs is that it assumes that all sex is heterosexual in nature, meaning the act of penetration and taking of virginity. That mind set carries over to gay male sex, where the first tie someone bottoms is equal to taking their virginity. This is very much an outdated modality of sexual interaction. Personally, I have always felt this should be left up to the individual person or persons to decide what their virginity is. Sex can be oral, vaginal, anal, grinding, and fingering, it also can be done in almost any way you feel comfortable with, like using toys and masturbation. Our prudish, predominantly Christian influenced society prevents schools from discussing these topics into those lengths. Their main focus is on abstinence and procreation. The main point here is communication. Discuss openly and honestly with your partner(s) about their likes and dislikes and how sex may go for the both of you. This will help put many people at ease.
Protection is a must; I cannot say that enough. And you should not simply rely on just one form of prevention. Some will say “I am on PrEP and don’t need to worry about condoms.” That is great if you only had to worry about HIV infections, unfortunately it will not prevent the many other STIs that are out there. And currently, there are many STIs are becoming resistant to medication. The CDC said that in 2016, gay and bisexual men were responsible for 62% of the 40,324 new HIV diagnoses in the Unites States.
These are only a small amount of reasons why sex ed needs to be more inclusive of all peoples. We need to make sure our educators have the best possible information so they can inform their students and foster an environment of trust and safety. These will help in removing the stigma that often goes along with these topics and hopefully help change the mindset that many people have around them. Think how much healthier our relationships with others would be if we had someone help us with all the questions we did not know how to ask.