Sexual education is uncomfortable. It’s a controversial topic that some people believe should be discussed openly and others feel it should not be. Regardless of the differing opinions, sexual education in schools has historically focused around a single approach that is abstinence only. Instead of encouraging education about safe sex and contraceptives, many schools focus on the idea of refraining from sex seeing it as the only way to prevent teenagers from engaging in unsafe situations. However, issues with sexual education go beyond the problem of teaching abstinence. In a hetero-normative system where heterosexuality is assumed to be the only sexual orientation, it is important to address the silence of the voices of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual. Trans or Questioning (LGBTQ) youth from these situations. Not only should LGBTQ youth be integrated into sexual education, focus should be shifted on including LGBTQ narrative into our every day lives.
In the article, “Discourses of Exclusion: Sexuality Educations’ Silencing of Sexual Others“, John P. Elia and Mickey Eliason address the lack of inclusivity and open mindedness when it comes to teaching sexual education in schools. Conservative views on education has created socially constructed ideas of love and marriage solely belonging to men and women. Elia and Eliason try to move away from this traditional thinking into more contemporary ideas. They recommend creating educational models that include all genders and sexuality. If LGBTQ stories are heard and mentioned, their place in society can be solidified. Given there are different methods to teach sexual education ranging from no education, abstinence only until marriage and abstinence based (Elia and Eliason 40), Elia and Eliason suggest schools adopt an anti-oppressive, inclusive sexual education curriculum (40) that understands the multi-dimensions of gender and sexuality. As outline by the Hank Green video linked below, human sexuality is made up of many different aspects of the human mind and body. This idea is what Elia and Eliason want sexual education in schools to fully adopt into their curriculum.
“Human Sexuality is Complicated…” by Hank Green. This video discusses the immense diversity when it comes to defining sexuality. Hank illustrates that socially constructed boxes of sexuality are not enough to cover the entire spectrum of humankind, especially because people are constantly moving across these defined boundaries. These boundaries should cease to exist to increase the feeling of love and acceptance in our society.
A different article by Kris Gowen and Nichole Winges-Yanez titled, “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youths’ Perspectives of Inclusive School-Based Sexuality Education” deals with similar ideas mentioned both in the Hank Green video and Elia and Eliason article. From several LGBTQ youth focus groups, the article was able to hear first hand experiences with sexual education in their own schools. This allowed them to explore how exclusive sexual education in school is and how, from the perspectives of LGBTQ youth, one can develop an inclusive education. Like Elia and Eliason’s article, Gowen and Yanez deal with the idea of hetero-normativity dominates traditional thinking of sexual education. This silences and patronizes those with different gender identities and sexual orientations, causing LGBTQ youth to deal with mental health issues and more. This is why LGBTQ youth hoped to create an environment where there will be no negative discussion based upon one’s sexual orientation.
Both the articles push for inclusiveness in sexual education but this is not something that can be done easliy. I believe this is would only be possible if LGBTQ narrative becomes a part of our every day lives. If we truly wish to make an impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth, we need integrate the idea of multiple sexualities into our every day lives. No matter how progressive a society may seem to be, homophobia is still an underlying tone of almost all conversations. The way our society is currently constructed, not adhering to the heteronormative agenda marks you as strange. You are strange because you don’t fit the exceptions of society. What you are is different and different is something that scares people. This is why it is so important to add LGBTQ perspectives and narratives into mainstream ideas. Once they become a part of every day life, people are more likely to be open to different ideas. It doesn’t make sense to put such harsh restrictions on what a person can or cannot be. Humankind is known for its diversity – our differences are what set us apart in society. Instead of burying them, we should celebrate what makes us stand out. Who you love shouldn’t be what defines you or should be the driving factor in how you live you life. If we integrate these ideas into all aspects of our lives and in our schools, it will be much easier to create an educational curriculum that is inclusive of everyone. Once LGBTQ voices are no longer silenced, we will be able to see real, feasible change in the inclusivitiy in all aspects of society – everything from sexual education to politicians running for presidency.