Most of us took sex education sometime between elementary and high school during the awkward years we call “the teen years”. Most of us remember the class being uncomfortable, awkward, and even giggle worthy at times. However, for some students the class was even more awkward and uncomfortable than for the rest.
A lot of sex ed classrooms in the U.S. are very withholding and stingy about what information they give students concerning sex and reproduction. Some schools refuse to teach it at all, while others give a short presentation over one class period. Some do better, though. They talk about the biology, consent, and how to use protection. Still, almost all schools will only cover two topics when it comes to sex education: reproduction and heterosexuality. And while it’s important that these subjects get covered, gay, bi, pan, ace, and trans students are largely left in the dark. This often makes it extremely difficult for non-heterosexual/non-cis people to come to terms with their identity. And important terms about sexuality and gender can go unknown for years, causing a lot of confusion and frustration both inside and out of the LGBT+ community.
Now, I’m not saying sex ed classrooms should introduce nsfw images and videos of different kinds of sexual situations in order to teach about these different subjects. I am, however, saying that gay sex and straight sex should be talked about in the same manner, discussing the importance of consent and protection in both cases. Many gay, bi, and pan relationships do not use protection during sex because they believe they don’t need it. This is why the number of STDs in the LGBT+ community is so high. Rape is also an underrated concern in the LGBT+ community. Whether it’s non-consensual sex or “corrective rape” these types of sexual assaults often go unreported by LGBTQIA+ victims because they don’t understand what proper consent means for non-heterosexual relationships or situations. These problems can help be corrected by discussing other types of sexual relationships in the sex ed classroom.
It’s time to crush heteronormativity, and one way that can be achieved is by discussing other types of attraction the same way we talk about straight attraction in the classroom. A half hour presentation over other forms of sexual and romantic attraction is all it would take to help normalize non-straight sexualities. In the same way, a short presentation on the differences between gender and sex would help trans and nonbinary people come to terms with their identity, and help cis people understand what it means for someone to not identify with their assigned gender. Simply acknowledging in the sex ed classroom that other sexual, romantic, and gender identities exist outside the cishet world we’re taught to live in can do wonders in helping achieve equality and understanding.