The lack of queer sex education is failing to teach lesbian, queer girls
While most kids in the US learned a thing or two from sex education in school, it seems like the lack of queer sex education is becoming a problem for those of us who are queer.
That’s because lesbian and queer girls aren’t learning what they need to know (like increased risk of sexualy transmitted infections or STIs) because sex education in schools is mostly designed for their straight peers.
Because of this, lesbian and queer teens think that they can trust a female partner to be “clean” as opposed to a male partner.
No queer sex education for queer, lesbian girls
The aforementioned was the revelation of a study conducted by the Centre for Innovative Public Health Research, which asked lesbian and bisexual girls what they knew about safe sex and STI risks.
Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health last December 2017, the study was done with the help of the University of British Columbia and the City University of New York.
The researchers conducted online focus groups with 160 lesbian and bisexual teenage girls across the US.
“What surprised us was their overall lack of knowledge when it came to safe sex practices with female partners,” said study co-author and UBC youth health researcher Jennifer Wolowic.
“When we asked why, many told us they didn’t find their sex ed programs– if they even had one– to be very informative. And even when they asked questions, the focus on heterosexual sex made them feel uncomfortable,” Wolowic said.
Queer sex education and safe sex
Another thing the researchers discovered was the girls’ lack of knowledge and concerns of loss of pleasure with regard to the use of dental dams and other barriers.
“Participants told us, they ‘literally had never heard of dental dams,’ or thought STIs weren’t a concern when having sex with girls,” Wolowic said.
“Of those who knew about protective barriers, many said using protection made sex awkward or less pleasurable, and so they left them out during sex,” she added.
Michele Ybarra, the study’s principal investigator, said: “Add to that a lack of information about where to get dental dams or how to make them, and it’s easy to understand why barrier use is so low among lesbian and bisexual girls.”
“They need to know that there are sexy ways to use barriers, that they can make dental dams out of condoms if needed, and that they can get STIs having sex with other girls,” Ybarra said.
Queer sex education is inclusive
UBC nursing professor Elizabeth Saewyc, the paper’s senior author who leads the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre at UBC, said this study underlined the need for inclusive sex education.
“Young people need accurate sexual health information, but sex education has traditionally focused on heterosexual sex,” said Saewyc.
“Our findings suggest we need to create more inclusive curriculum to help lesbian and bisexual girls have the knowledge they need to make healthy sexual decisions,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cathy Sakimura, the deputy director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Newsweek that: “Sex education is very male-focused and hetero-centric. And that fails queer women in yet another way.”
“The vast majority of sex education doesn’t address anything that directly relates to queer women in their same-sex relationships,” Sakimura said.
Studies indicate that young queer women have higher rates of teen pregnancy and STI due to rejection and trauma faced by queer young women, Sakimura further said.