The night the cable channel Freeform aired an LGBTQ sex-education-themed episode of its teen drama The Fosters earlier this spring, Madison Russell spent the evening in front of her television with tears rolling down her face. And a study by the Public Religion Research Institute found just 12 percent of millennials said their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships at all. But sex ed is changing in America, and not just on teen TV shows.
‘A landmark step forward’
‘Very gentle and nothing inappropriate’
Earlier this year , the late Sen. This legislation would authorize grants for comprehensive sex-education programs that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth. Specifically, it would require comprehensive sex education to cover sensitive and respectful discussions of gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation, among other topics. Currently, sex-education standards vary widely across the country, leaving many American youth uninformed about basic anatomy, healthy relationship skills, and safer sex practices. On top of this, LGBT youth face particular challenges.
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In many states, there are few laws surrounding sex education. Only 23 states and the District of Columbia require schools to teach sex ed, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Only 13 states require that lesson to include information on sexual orientation, but four of those states require that teachers only include negative information on LGBTQ identity. Though there are relatively few laws mandating that schools teach students about sex and sexuality, some states do have laws that ban schools from talking about being gay, lesbian, transgender, or queer in a positive light. It's clear that sex ed across the country is lacking, especially for LGBTQ students — so Teen Vogue turned to the experts to fill in the gaps. Here's what they say LGBTQ students won't learn in health class, from safe sex to coming out, and more. While some schools teach students how to put on a condom, the discussion is often around using the barrier for heterosexual sex, notes Wesley Thomas, program coordinator for LGBTQ health and rights at Advocates for Youth , a nonprofit dedicated to honest sex ed and open access to sex and sexuality resources for teens.
Valentine's Day is a great time to refresh your education about sex and sexuality in order to protect yourself and your partners. For all youth, regardless of identity, sex education can be misinforming and provide information that stunts our ability to understand our bodies, desires, relationships, and health. For LGBTQ and questioning youth specifically, sex ed can be a frustrating and dangerously misleading experience. According to Planned Parenthood , seven states in the U. Only twenty-seven states and Washington D. Only seventeen states require that the instructions are medically accurate. And in twenty-six states , including D. LGBTQ kids are often—if not always—left out of sex education curriculum because many administrators think it is inappropriate to teach. This is unfair because there are queer, transgender, and intersex young people in every community who deserve to know how to safely use their bodies.