- Fewer than 8.2% of LGBTQ students receive inclusive sex education in school, according to a May report from several LGBTQ health and policy organizations.
- According to the report, only seven states and the District of Columbia require sex education to be inclusive for LGBTQ + people.
With more Americans than ever as LGBTQ, the need for inclusive sex education is more pressing than ever – but few students are getting it, according to a report released before Pride Month.
Less than 8.2% of LGBTQ students reported receiving inclusive sex education in school, a failure that could have lasting effects from adolescence to adulthood, according to “A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need inclusive Sex Education ”, published in May by several LGBTQ people. health and policy organizations.
“Far too many LGBTQ youth attend schools without inclusive policies and sit in classrooms where their teachers and textbooks ignore their identity, community and experiences. Nowhere is this absence more evident and potentially more damaging than in sex education, ”the report said, citing a number of other analyzes.
According to the report, only a fraction of the 50 states – 18 – require sex education to be medically accurate, and only seven states and the District of Columbia require sex education to be LGBTQ + inclusive, an absence with drastic consequences.
“We know that non-inclusive sex education can cause significant harm to gay and trans youth, especially LGBTQ youth of color,” said Preston Mitchum, policy director of Unite for Reproduction and Gender Equity, one of the authors of the report.
But the report says these students “lack information about themselves and how sex and sexuality might be applicable to their own life experience,” said Joseph Kosciw, research director at GLSEN.
“For all the students who see themselves included in the program, they are more engaged in their education, they flourish more, they are more connected to school and they often do better at school,” he said. he declares.
But “when you don’t see yourself reflected in the education you receive and in the information you learn,” Mitchum said, it can lead to negative mental and physical health outcomes.
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The lack of inclusive education, and not just sex education, contributes to stigma, according to the report.
On the one hand, a lack of identity reflection in the school curriculum can lead to a culture of hostile school environments ignoring identities and experiences – making LGBTQ students less likely to feel comfortable speaking with their teachers. LGBTQ issues, less likely to feel safe in school, and face higher rates of anti-LGBTQ harassment, according to the report.
A lack of inclusive education can also lead to the isolation of young people and the absence of trusted adults, causing LGBTQ young people to be much more likely to seek health information online about sexuality, health, and health. STIs, which may be medically inaccurate and inappropriate.
For many students, part of inclusive sex education is learning what applies to their own lives, Kosciw says. If sex education is not inclusive, the risk to health is much greater.
“The more they don’t learn what they can do to protect themselves, [the more] they are not taking the appropriate measures regarding the pregnancy and the risk of HIV, ”he said.
And nearly a quarter of LGBTQ youth have not been educated about HIV / AIDS in school, compared to 18% of non-LGBTQ youth, according to the report, citing a 2019 analysis from the HRC Foundation.
The result, according to the report: Almost seven in ten new HIV diagnoses in 2018 were among gay and bisexual men. And the overwhelming majority of new HIV transmissions among 13-24 year olds occur among gay and bisexual men and heterosexual transgender women.
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Mitchum says that while sex education is stigmatized especially for LGBTQ youth, the stigma exists for all students.
“When you think of the environment that the United States and other parts of the world have created around sex stigma… we’re a culture that has sex, but don’t talk about it,” Mitchum said.
Thus, sexuality education must be seen in a broader perspective, which takes into account all the experiences of young people.
“[Sex ed] means informing young people of all the information and access available so that they can be informed of the decisions they make, ”he added.
In order for parents, educators and policy makers to embed a more inclusive sexuality education program, the report details several steps each group can take.
Among them, said Mitchum, calls on policymakers to “talk about the need for inclusive or comprehensive sex education,” especially sex education that includes all gender identities.
In addition to URGE, the report was written and endorsed by Advocates for Youth, Answer, Black & Pink, the Equality Federation, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and SIECUS: Sex Ed for Social change.