Education

Studies Show That LGBTQ Sex Ed Is Virtually Nonexistent In America’s Classrooms

by Tod Perry

October 6, 2017

With 23% of public school sex-ed classes following an abstinence-only curriculum, it’s easy to say the U.S. is woefully undereducating its youth on serious life-or-death health issues. But when it comes to LGBTQ students — some of the country’s most vulnerable — curriculum in the United States is virtually nonexistent.

A recent survey of 4,643 New York City high school students by the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology found that half of sexually-active females reported “some same-sex experience” and that 1 in 4 are “women seeking women.” This trend could signify a large increase in the number of women who identify as lesbian or bisexual. 

Gay Straight Alliance school bus. Photo by Jon Gilbert Leavitt/Flickr.

The study also found that LGBTQ teens are more sexually active than their heterosexual-identifying classmates. About 50% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students reported being sexually active versus 24.1% of heterosexuals. Research suggests that teens who participate in same-sex relationships are at higher risk for substance abuse, partner abuse, suicidal thoughts, and STIs. 

To improve the safety of LGBTQ youth, the U.S. needs to radically rethink its sex-ed curriculum. According to a 2014 study by GLSEN, a nonprofit that works to create safe spaces for LGBT youth, just 5% of LGBTQ students reported that their sex-ed classes showed a positive representation of same-sex relationships. A 2015 study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that only 12% of students said their sex-ed classes covered same-sex relationships at all.

Open discussions about sexually-fluid behavior and positive examples of same-sex couples are necessary to improve self-acceptance among LGBTQ students. It will also help alleviate the stressors that can lead to substance abuse, suicide, and violence. Education about safe-sex practices unique to the LGBT community can also help lower the rate of STIs. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but unfortunately, sex education is very heteronormative and doesn’t address the needs of LGBTQ young people,” Nicole Cushman, executive director of Answer, told Teen Vogue

Share image by Jon Gilbert Leavitt/Flickr.

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