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Citizens

for
Action in
We the students of the Pennsylvania State

Society University, in order to form a more perfect


union

Diversifying Sexual Education: Safe Sex


for All Sexual Identities
Tyreek Thompkins
CAS138- Rhetoric and Civil Life II

Abstract
Sexual education taught in public high schools across the nation has become somewhat of a joke. The methods
used for teaching this class lacks the same imperative features a normal class would have. Being that it is held
to a different standard, the vital information that a sexual education class can give is poorly communicated. But
this only pertains to heteronormative couples. There is no mention of the varying sexualities, or the varying
relationship types and how to handle them safely.

Introduction
When sexual education is taught in public high schools, it is very focused on heteronormative couples and
relationships. It neglects other sexual identities and the essential information they would need for them to live
healthy life. To combat this, more implications for diversifying sexual education needs to be made.

Inclusivity
Sexual education is a topic that cannot be taught with a small scope. There is a broad spectrum with
different sexualities, genders, and identities and it needs to be covered comprehensively. Current sexual
education classes lack the full gender and sexuality aspect, and can promote heteronormativity and transphobia.
Because of this, students who are LGBTQA may feel that the class is uncomfortable and an unsafe place for
them to be. As a result, like heteronormative youth, LGB teenagers have a higher probability to have unexpected
pregnancies because of that lack in sexual education.1

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Source: GLSEN
For some students, sexual education classes are the only reliable source of information regarding sexuality and
sexual health. The GLSEN 2013 National School Climate Survey found that less than five percent of teenagers
who identify as LGBTQA had a health class that showed LGBTQA topics in a positive light.2 In fact, only 4%
of LGBTQA students were taught positive information about LGBTQA people or issues in their health choices.3
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America also conducted
research on the topic of inclusivity. They found that LGBTQA youth reports one of two things; either not having
any sexual education in their schools, or having limited education where its main focus was on heterosexual
relationships and how to prevent pregnancy against them.4

Safety
As mentioned before, sexual education courses arent held to the same standard as a math class or an
English class, but it still yields the same, if not more, importance to promote a healthy life for students. Sexual
education classes are meant to educate students on how to prevent certain sexually transmitted infections and
pregnancy by engaging in safe sex. Talk of sex in high school classrooms has created a negative stigma around
it as something that isnt needed. But the more talk we have about sexual education, the healthier we become as
a nation.

Sexual education classes in high school have been mediocre. The scope of the conversation is class
didnt go beyond telling students to abstain from sex or if you are having sex, use a condom. But what if
youve never used a condom? In 2015, the CDC reported that 43% of high school students did not use a
condom the last time they had sex.5 In the same group of students, 14% of them reported not using any method
of preventing pregnancy. Reasons behind this is that some students were never properly taught how to use a
condom or other types of contraceptives. Some students are visual learners and may need a tutorial on how to
use a condom or other contraceptives, and there should more implementations to normalize the use of them.

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The statistics for


LGBTQA youth are much
worse. It was found that gay and
bisexual men in the U.S.
accounted for 83% of primary
and secondary syphilis, a
sexually transmitted infection
that is preventable with the use
of a condom.6 Gay and bisexual
men are accounting for 83% of a
sexually transmitted infection
that is potentially lethal if not
treated.7 But these statistics are
never discussed because of the
lack of exploring other
sexualities and sexual
relationships. If explored, trends
of sexually transmitted
infections would decrease for
all.
Source: Pikochart
Tolerance and
Consent
One thing that comes
with being the sexual identity
minority is that it results in
copious amounts of bullying.
More often than not, students
will have altercation with a lot
of other students, and are made
outsiders because of their sexual
orientation. This form of
bullying is a learned behavior
and can be treated by
incorporating tolerance into
sexual education classes.
Infusing the subject of
tolerance in a sexual education
classes is imperative for it to
move forward as an inclusive
and comprehensive course.
Tolerance allows students to
have differences and ideologies
that dont align, and still coexist.
When introducing new topics
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that relate to LGBTQA issues, it can be upsetting if your culture or upbringing didnt allow that. But, by adding
tolerance to the curriculum, it allows the different ideologies to exist without confrontation, and in turn, reduce
the rates of bullying in the LGBTQA youth community.
Alongside tolerance is consent; and I dont mean just for LGBTQA youth. Consent is the major
fundamental topic when discussing sexual education that is often forgotten. Consent is one of the things that
make sexual interactions a great one because you mutually want the same thing. If one person does, and the
other one doesnt, it can often lead to sexual assault and rape. In 2015, the CDC conducted a survey regarding
sexual violence among LGBTQA and heterosexual youth in their respected areas. The survey reported that 18%
of LGB youth were physically forced to have sex compared to 5% of heterosexual couples. It also reported that
in LGB youth, 23% experienced sexual dating violence compared to heterosexuals who experienced only 9%.8

Source: Piktochart
Knowing what consent does is vital in reducing rape culture. If consent is never taught to a student in
elementary or high school, that student is more likely to carry that temperament of taking what they want
without asking, and not accepting no as an answer. Not knowing what consent does is one of the reasons why
rape culture is so prevalent. The fundamental lessons of learning that no means no and yes means yes can
be misconstrued when consuming different types of media where they are portraying no as yes. The
juxtaposition of these two words can be confused if media says they are the same thing. Sexual education
classes should particularly clarify that they are not. They have their own respected values and meanings and
they are not interchangeable. By ridding that stigma of no means yes, rape culture can become something that
is nonresistant.

Comfortability
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The talk of sexual education in itself is already a difficult conversation. Exploring human anatomy in a sexual
sense is awkward. Implementing the talk of LGBTQA sexual education can add to the comfortability, but it is
a conversation we have to have. In fact, parents believe that as well. 85% of parents supports the discussion of
sexual orientation as part of sexual education in high school.

Source: Human Rights Campaign


Even better, 78% supports discussions of sexual orientation as part of sexual education in middle
school.9 So, if the majority parents are accepting of implementing LGBTQA subtopics into sexual education
courses, there will be less pushback from students because parents are in agreement with the school.

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Conclusion
Sexual education, where it stands, is one-sided and that needs to change. It needs to be
inclusive for everyone, where they can feel like their sexuality and identity will be fairly
represented without negative connotations. It must cover topics on safety and prevention where
the conversation extends beyond the heteronormative standard. Inside the sexual education
classrooms, tolerance must be discussed to have harmony between two different ideologies.
Consent must not be looked over as well for it solidifies the notion that no means no. Finally,
for all of these implementations to work flawlessly, there must be a comfortability level with
parents and students so that the message can be clearly processed.

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1Notes Sanoff, Rachel. "7 Problems With The State Of Sex Ed In America Today, And How We Can Make It
Better." Bustle. August 27, 2015. Accessed April 13, 2017. https://www.bustle.com/articles/104233-7-problems-with-
the-state-of-sex-ed-in-america-today-and-how-we-can-make.

2 Campaign, Human Rights. "LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education." Human Rights Campaign. Accessed April
13, 2017. http://www.hrc.org/resources/a-call-to-action-lgbtq-youth-need-inclusive-sex-education.

3 "Including LGBT-Content in Sex Education: Four Wrong Ways (and One Right One)." GLSEN. Accessed April 13,
2017. https://www.glsen.org/blog/including-lgbt-content-sex-education-four-wrong-ways-and-one-right-one.

4 Campaign, Human Rights. "LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education." Human Rights Campaign. Accessed April
13, 2017. http://www.hrc.org/resources/a-call-to-action-lgbtq-youth-need-inclusive-sex-education.

5 "Sexual Risk Behaviors: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
March 10, 2017. Accessed April 13, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/.

6 Syphilis Information, Effects, Symptoms, Treatment. Accessed April 13, 2017.


http://www.nakedtruth.idaho.gov/syphilis.aspx.

7 "Gay and Bisexual Men's Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 09, 2016. Accessed April 13,
2017. https://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/std.htm.

8 "Health Risks Among Sexual Minority Youth." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 11, 2016.
Accessed April 13, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/smy.htm.

9 Campaign, Human Rights. "LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education." Human Rights Campaign. Accessed April
13, 2017. http://www.hrc.org/resources/a-call-to-action-lgbtq-youth-need-inclusive-sex-education.