(Same) sex education?


Kara Rieger

“If you’re not having straight sex you’re on your own.”

Jonathan Munroe, news features writer

*Name changed for anonymity

“If you’re not having straight sex you’re on your own,” Suzy* said. “When I first thought about having sex, I knew there wasn’t any information, not even a pamphlet in the nurse’s office.”

For the 26% (81/314) of students like Suzy, LGBT sex education is not prevalent or available. A 2013 study from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network found that only 5 percent of students had health classes that included positive representations of LGBT-related topics. According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT youth have a limited number of trusted adults they feel comfortable talking with about sexual health. They frequently seek information online or from peers, much of which is neither age-appropriate nor medically accurate.

“It’s important for LGBT youth to have resources and to know what safe sex is for them,” Suzy said. “It’s not as straightforward as regular sex education. Yes, they know how to use condoms, but people don’t realize they can still get STDs. They need education.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 12 states require discussion of sexual orientation in sex education while the rest leave the matter up to individual districts. Of the 12 with a requirement, three require the schools to teach negative information about sexual orientation and the remaining nine states mandate that any sexual health classes taught in public schools be inclusive, providing science-based information that addresses sexual orientation. Four of those states require public-school teachers to cover gender identity.

“It’s important for LBGT youth to have resources and to know what safe sex is for them.”

“In schools, general methods of preventing STDs should be taught because there’s not much of a difference between straight-sex and LGBT sex,” Jenna Schoch, junior, said. “As long as they teach students how to be safe while having sex, everyone can be safe. I don’t see [the absence of LGBT sex education] as much of a problem because the sex education we have now is not too focused on the sex aspect but more focused on [the consequences] that can come out of it.”

According to the Atlantic, in seven states (AL, AZ, LA, MS, OK, SC and TX) mentioning homosexuality in a positive light could get a teacher in trouble. Called “no promo homo laws” by LGBTQ advocates, regulations in states like Alabama instruct educators to teach kids that “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”

“Our sex education curriculum consists of biological male anatomy and biological female anatomy, reproduction and childbirth,” Craig Dickinson, health teacher, said. “We then get into consequences of being sexually active which include STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and teen pregnancy. We say that STIs can be transmitted in a male-female, male-male and female-female relationship. We try to be inclusive in our curriculum.”

The health curriculum also focuses on the emotional and social consequences of being sexually active. Dickinson teaches about being transgender and proper pronoun usage in health classes. In health, the final project is a presentation where students pick a health topic of their choice. Students can pick topics such as transgender and LGBT issues which allow them to learn and teach the class topics that interest and relate to them.

“I don’t think it’s out of the question [for an LGBT curriculum] to be taught in the future, but we are very fortunate here with the school district supporting us,” Dickinson said. “We’ve had conversations with GSA before where we talk about health and the health curriculum. We want to encourage students to take health in the classroom, have these discussions and if they feel there’s something missing in our curriculum, we’re always looking for feedback for things we can do to grow.”