OPINION: Why we need inclusive sex education now
Emily Bashforth believes schools are failing their LGBTQ+ students
School is the institution which teaches children valuable life skills such as reading, writing, how to make friends and respect others, but it also ought to be the place where children are taught about relationships and sex.
Many schools have good quality sex education for older students. However, generally, schools lack in inclusive sex education and often exclude the LGBTQ+ community from it completely. In the eyes of the government, compulsory sex education consists of teaching children about the biological and reproductive aspects of sex, automatically disregarding the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ students have the right to learn about sex in the same way as their cis, heterosexual counterparts.
Mandatory LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education would create a safer, more accepting environment for LGBTQ+ students to live in. Many LGBTQ+ teenagers grow up feeling inadequate and as if their sexuality is something to be ashamed of because it isn’t the “norm.” Therefore, by acknowledging the existence of queer students, schools can reassure them that their feelings are natural and valid. It would make them feel supported and able to see the same future for themselves as they do for everyone else.
With time, this may give LGBTQ+ students the confidence to come out or open up to a loved one about any confusion they may feel. Students remain in the closet either out of fear or because they haven’t fully connected with their own identity yet so, by not including LGBTQ+ youths in the sex education agenda, schools are depriving their kids of information which may be of direct relevance to them.
In turn, inclusive sex ed would teach non-LGBTQ+ students about the existence of the LGBTQ+ community, taking a step in the right direction on the world’s journey to combatting ignorance. It would encourage students to see those who are LGBTQ+ as their equals and educate them about LGBTQ+ relationships. Those not part of the community are often completely clueless about what sex means for an LGBTQ+ person.
Additionally, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is extremely prevalent in schools today and this would inevitably decrease over time if young people became more clued up on LGBTQ+ relationships and realised that, actually, they’re not that different from heterosexual relationships. Combatting ignorance and dispelling harmful preconceptions about being LGBTQ+ must be a top priority for all schools if we want to prevent the next generation growing up to be bigoted adults.
Children are exposed to sex and relationships daily, whether that’s through their favourite TV shows, what they see on social media or through conversations with their friends. There is no escaping it. So, rather than trying to police what our children are seeing and instead of keeping them in the dark until they’re “old enough to understand,” why not start educating them now? All children are entitled to a full sex education and LGBTQ+ students should not be excluded from this. They deserve to know how to have sex, how to have SAFE sex, how to prevent STIs and how to care for their bodies. Regardless of schools’ moral views, they have a duty to teach their students about the diverse range of genders and sexualities in society because, if they continue teaching them that only heterosexuality is acceptable, society will never progress.
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