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OPINION: Sean wants to know why he didn’t learn about gay sex at school

“Sex education within schools is in need of a major overhaul, not only to include LGBTQ sex.”

I can still remember hearing giggling in the back of the classroom during sex education as the teacher went through an awkward slideshow that contained more euphemisms than a high school playground.

Don’t get me wrong, sex education in high school was extremely important. Not only did I get some funny memories, such as the time someone passed out after seeing a plastic baby in a plastic womb, but it also taught me a lot of lessons for the future, such as how to put on a condom and how to prevent certain STI’s.

However, as a strictly closeted highschooler, I didn’t learn much about LGBTQ sex in my sex education classes, and I certainly wasn’t going to expose myself as being gay by asking any questions in relation to the subject; most of what I learnt was more suited to heterosexual couples than to LGBTQ couples.

I also realise now I’ve grown older and made friends who live all over the country, that it also seems that we had very different sex education experiences depending on which school we went to.

Some people learnt a lot about sex and the reproductive system, and had very supportive teachers who were mature in their approach to the subject. Others, on the other hand, can remember not being given much sex education at all, or having teachers give them strange allegories for sex, similar to that of the birds and the bees.

According to a 2016 report from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBTQ students are unlikely to find sex education useful.

In a survey of 1,367 students, almost half (46.5%) of LGBTQ students who received sex education said that they didn’t find it useful, and less than a third (29.9%) of their non-LGBTQ peers reported the same.

In fact, a 2015 study from the Public Religion Research Institute found that only a mere 12% of millennials even discussed same-sex relationships in their classes.

GLSEN also found that when LGBT issues are included in sex education or other health discussions, they are often covered in a stigmatising way, such as only discussing HIV/ AIDS when it comes to transgender people and gay men.

Not only does this mean that LGBTQ students lack the information that they require in order to stay safe, but the lack of information also perpetuates the idea that being LGBTQ is abnormal or something not to be talked about.

The discussion of sexual orientation and LGBTQ issues in a positive way is a crucial part of sex education as it sets students up for safer, consensual sex lives.

Whilst it is clear educators need to make changes in order to make sure that sex education prepares everyone for safer sex, it seems people online have already created their own way to teach LGBTQ sex education to people.

A quick search on YouTube for ‘LGBT sex education’ will bring up a myriad of videos made by different people, from well know YouTube channels such as BuzzFeed, to lesser known YouTubers from around the world.

Not only do these videos cover LGBTQ sex, but they also cover topics that are usually forgotten about in schools, such as consent, body confidence, and the concept of virginity. OutNews Global vlogger Bradley Birkholz has posted his own no holds barred videos on LGBT+ sex issues.

The popularity of these videos also goes to show that people are trying to find the information they need from sources other than school.

These videos are extremely helpful for people looking for information about LGBTQ sex and are certainly proof that people are wanting more inclusive sex education in schools. 

Questions young subscribers ask range from ‘what type of lube should I use?’ to more pressing issues such as ‘if I’m in a queer relationship, do I still need to talk about consent with my partner?’

It is scary to me that questions about consent are still prevalent, and it is automatically assumed that most people know what consent is and that they will do the right thing, when in fact a lot of people are still confused about what classes as consent.

This clearly shows that sex education within schools is in need of a major overhaul, not only to include LGBTQ sex, but to also include information about consent and healthy relationship advice.

Like a lot of things online, there is always a possibility that the information included in some videos may be wrong, and it is still important to check whether the information provided is correct from a reliable source.

However, these videos are certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to helping people have safer sex, and are certainly proof that sex education within schools needs to be updated in order to make it more inclusive and informative.

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