Moving towards inclusive sex education for LGBTQ kids
Representation is an important element with inclusiveness, and this can seen in efforts to create an inclusive sex education for LGBTQ kids in schools.
After all, how will LGBTQ kids feel that they are accepted if sex education being taught in schools don’t consider kids who aren’t straight?
Creating more inclusive sex education
According to The Atlantic, there are more and more school districts that are fixing their sexual education courses to make sure that they help the student populations they serve.
This is fortunate because in 2013, the national nonprofit organization GLSEN reported in a survey that only five percent of LGBTQ students said they had health classes that had positive representations of LGBTQ-related topics.
In a study done by the Public Religion Research Institute, this had climbed up in 2015 wherein 12 percent of millennials said their sex education classes had topics on same-sex relationships.
A similar study by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation noted that LGBTQ youth reported “either not having any sex education in their schools or having limited sex education that was primarily or exclusively focused on heterosexual relationships between cisgender people.”
However, the HRC noted that 85 percent of parents they’ve surveyed “supported discussion of sexual orientation as part of sex education in high school” while 78 percent “supported it in middle school.”
Meanwhile, a recent review done by the Guttmacher Institute on sex education in the US reported that 12 states require a discussion on sexual orientation in sex education.
Of these 12, three have the schools requiring only to disseminate negative information on sexual orientation.
However, nine states require sexual health classes in public schools to be inclusive using science-based information on sexual orientation with four states requiring public school teachers to discuss the topic of gender identity.
Inclusive sex education in US states
The Washington state through its Healthy Youth Act in 2007, requires that if public schools teach sex education, it should “be appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, or sexual orientation.”
Another state that does this is Iowa thanks to a 2007 law that while allows schools to teach abstinence-only education, it also mandates them to be “free of racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, and gender biases.”
Meanwhile, Colorado in 2013 updated its sex education laws to require public schools with sex education programs to cover comprehensive sex ed to students.
California had its own Healthy Youth Act in 2015, a first that not only requires sex education in public schools to take on sexual orientation and gender identity, but also abortion, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
In Seattle, schools follow the curriculum Family Life and Sexual Health (FLASH) that breaks down into age-appropriate chunks sexual-health courses, from sexual orientation to gender identity.
However, it should be noted that seven other states forbid positioning homosexuality in a positive light by the teachers.
Dubbed “no promo homo laws,” these instruct teachers 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.”
How inclusive sex education is perceived
Teachers and advocates point out that inclusive sex education is about representation, not how to have gay sex.
“A teacher might say, ‘This contraception would be used for a penis, and that would be vaginal, anal, or oral sex.’ We’re not trying to create anything subversive. We’re trying to treat people as people,” Odette Edbrooke, the director of health and culture at the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, told The Atlantic.
Meanwhile, Lisa Love, the manager of health education for the Seattle Public School District said of their FLASH curriculum: “These age-appropriate lessons introduce terminology, discuss the importance of treating others with respect, and begin to dismantle harmful stereotypes that impact LGBTQ young people.”
Ellen Kahn, the director of the Children, Youth, and Families Program at the HRC, said: “If you’re in a school environment, and you spend half of your waking time there, even if you have a supportive family, or maybe if you don’t have a supportive family… and you do not get any positive messages or find a safe space at school, that’s weighing on you every day.”