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Inclusive sex-ed for LGBTQ teens

  • 20 January 2020


I was sitting in health class like any other Thursday afternoon when the teacher reluctantly announced our new topic for the semester: sex.

Immediately, my peers burst into giggles, as you would expect in a room full of bored and sexually repressed 16 year olds. I knew exactly how the rest of the period would go because two years earlier a group of sex educators had marched into our school and given us the exact same speech — don't have sex, but if you do, use protection.

From what I hear, my health class experiences were better than most. We learnt about consent, contraception and sexually transmitted infections. We even got taught how to prevent them, how they were treated and how to protect ourselves by using condoms. One thing that was seldom mentioned in the four years I spent at school, however, was LGBTQ sexual health. 

The term 'LGBTQ inclusive sex education' is closely associated, if not synonymous, with comprehensive sexuality education. The United Nations defines the latter as 'a holistic approach to human development and sexuality' with the goal of equipping 'children and young people ... with the knowledge, skills and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships'.

While difficult to talk about, inclusive sex education remains an important discourse in our society. Imagine being an inexperienced young person, feeling fundamentally different from your peers, and further imagine having your gender or sexuality dismissed by the people meant to help keep you safe. This is how it felt as a young queer woman in what at the time seemed like an all-straight classroom. With so little information and extreme feelings of exclusion, it is no surprise many young gay, lesbian and bisexual people turn to the internet for sexual advice. Unsurprisingly, this is almost always unreliable and sometimes even dangerous. 

Luckily, countries across the world are adapting their curriculum to be more inclusive and better fit modern times. In England, new government regulations mean that from September 2020 all secondary schools will be required to teach Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), though how they choose to approach this is completely up to them. In high schools across the nation queer youths are making their voices heard by creating safe spaces in their schools, from Gay Straight Alliances to celebrations of LGBT history and important figures.

In Canada, Australia and some states in the USA, LGBTQ inclusive sex education is already compulsory,