War. Massacre. Drugs. Violence. All students are exposed to many subjects, but sex is where many draw the line.
In the United States, a small number of middle schools and high schools – 18 and 43 percent respectively – teach material that covers the main topics in sex education as described by the CDC. Additionally, only 18 of the 50 US states require the information taught in sex education to be valid and healthy. Other states teach abstinence-only education, which simply teaches students to abstain from sex altogether. Students are not taught anything about sex, and this lack of education goes beyond the process of having sex. Contraception, reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and domestic violence are topics neglected by schools without sex education. For students who identify as LGBTQ+, the psychological and physical risks can be even greater.
DIFFERENCE IS WANTED
Chelsea Proulx, a public health researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, studies the impact of sex education on students’ mental health and well-being. In 2019, Proulx conducted a study looking at schools that offer LGBT-inclusive sexuality education programs and determining whether their students have better mental health outcomes.
Proulx’s model found that schools with LGBT-inclusive sexuality education programs experienced lower rates of depression and suicide among LGBTQ+ students and cisgender students, as well as lower rates of bullying and harassment. This research includes statistics that describe the density of same-sex couples in the area as a control value to reduce the effect of having a different environment or more participation outside the school.
In the study, more than twice as many LGBTQ+ students reported “long-term feelings of hopelessness or sadness” as their same-sex peers, and LGBTQ+ youth were five times more likely to attempt suicide. Additionally, LGBTQ+ students are more likely to report bullying, harassment, and feelings of insecurity in their school environment.
Although schools may have straight-sex or gay-sex associations (GSAs), only a small number of students attend these meetings. Students who may engage in homophobic or transphobic behavior are not part of these groups.
By including LGBTQ+ topics in the core curriculum, all students are exposed to these issues and can gain awareness and understanding of the diversity of gender relations and expressions around the world. “[Inclusive sexuality education] uses open and tolerant language, and more inclusive explanations.”
If there is so much data to back up these claims and positive results, why aren’t more schools adopting an inclusive curriculum?
Think about the children
Most people know the law as Florida HB 1557, which is called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law prohibits any discussion of sexuality or gender identity in preschool through third grade, or “in a way that is not appropriate for age or maturity”.
Supporters of the bills argue that they protect students from sexual harassment and bullying by teachers, and question why young children need to discuss sex in the first place. .
Discussions of LGBT topics go beyond sexuality, and sexuality education covers much more than sexuality itself. So what does LGBT inclusive sexuality education look like?
“It uses open and responsive language, and more details are included,” Proulx said. This may mean using anatomical terms instead of gender, or having neutral discussions about pregnancy. Many primary schools already offer sex education by teaching students about menstruation and their changing bodies, and many sex education programs build on topics that are developmentally appropriate for one year. “Kids this age are too old to understand what relationships are,” Proulx said.
Today, sex education can be as simple as teaching boys about the rules as well as girls, teaching all students about different body types, and including couples who have sex in relationship discussions. As children progress in their education, so do activities that are considered “developmentally appropriate”.
Sex education in high school can include lessons about how pregnancy and childbirth work, birth control methods, and STI prevention. It may also cover important information about how students can screen themselves for breast cancer and testicular cancer.
“When we get to high school, I think about talking about how unsafe sex is as young gay people… [it also benefits] young people who are sexually active,” Proulx explained.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a drug that can be taken by people at risk of contracting HIV to avoid contracting the disease, either through sex or otherwise. Similarly, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can be considered as an emergency measure when a person may have had close contact with an HIV positive person. However, PrEP and PEP are rarely mentioned during sex education programs aimed at gay and bisexual youth, as they are often used by LGBTQ+ members.
This is just one example of how including LGBTQ+ positive topics in appropriate health and sexuality education can also provide valuable resources for cisgender youth. However, the policy barriers remain, 카지노사이트 with some states actively opposing the establishment of such programs in schools, the task of ensuring equal education for all is more complicated.
There is a gap in American education and education about sex, expand and health giving students the resources to make informed decisions about their health and sexuality. Most school curricula are set at the state level, placing decisions about youth education in the hands of state legislators and education officials rather than doctors or sexual health professionals.
“Talking about how good sex is like gay guys… [benefits] young heterosexuals as well.
But participation doesn’t stop at sex education. LGBTQ+ history and culture is a part of the United States that is often overlooked in what is taught in schools. “Sexuality can be a difficult topic to prepare for… but if we can integrate [LGBTQ+ topics] into every curriculum, we’re making progress,” Proulx said. Read related article: Investing in Education is One of the Best Things a Country Can Do
And what can we do when high school education leaves lingering questions? “Sexuality doesn’t stop at high school…Colleges should also think about making their communities more sexually inclusive,” Proulx said.
All RIT students have access to services provided by the student health center, including safe sex kits, birth control, STI screening, and gender transition resources. So get informed, get tested, and close the gap as we work toward a nation of sexuality education, for all.