Friday, January 21

For a more inclusive sex education

Gay Pride month should also serve to reflect on what is happening in the country’s classrooms.

Photo: Jasmin Sessler / Unsplash

Despite the fact that over the years the LGBTQ + community has managed to make the fight for their rights heard and attended on several fronts, at the level of the national public school system there is still much to be done so that children and young people enjoy a more inclusive sex education.

Precisely in this month that is celebrated the month of gay pride, a report details the urgency of producing curricula on sexual health that are inclusive of the LGBTQ + community.

According to the report led by the United for Reproductive & Gender Equality (URGE), Advocates for Youth –among other organizations– only 17 states require medically accurate sex education and in 35 states sex education emphasizes abstinence.
As a result, many students do not get the information and training they need to make informed decisions about their sexual health.

There are seven states that explicitly restrict the teaching of texts related to LGBTQ + topics in their schools: Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.

Some states prohibit instruction that “promotes a gay lifestyle,” another 20 states, such as Florida and North Carolina, require that sex education focus on monogamous heterosexual marriage.

And if we add to that the fact that certain states are complicating the situation for transgender youth, the vulnerable situation in which gay boys navigate becomes even more critical.

What better than schools to form a more open and tolerant base of thought. We cannot turn a blind eye to such a delicate matter. And even more so when we know that annually at least 1.8 million LGBTQ + youths consider suicide seriously in the United States, and that every 45 seconds, at least one LGBTQ + youth attempts suicide.

Additionally, many schools have also failed to provide a safe environment for gay boys. A 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) analysis shows that 16% of gay and lesbian youth, as well as 11% of bisexual youth, have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school grounds, compared to 7% of non-LGBTQ + youth.

Against this background, it is also crucial that Congress give the green light to projects such as the Real “Education and Access for Healthy Youth Act” through which grant funds can be approved to entities that provide sex education programs that include gender equality and are inclusive of young people with different gender identities and sexual orientations.

It is time for us to open the spectrum to turn around education from the point of view of sexual health, relationships, gender identity and sexual orientation.

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