The Next LGBT Battle: Sex Ed
Recognizing the dearth of sexual health information for LGBT students, two prominent organizations are pushing for schools to evolve with the times.
Planned Parenthood Federation of American and the Human Rights Campaign are lobbying schools to include more sex ed for young LGBT or questioning students, reports The Boston Globe. Most curriculums have scant sex education to begin with, and even less for those students who fall outside of heterosexual or cisgender descriptions.
Not surprisingly, liberal Massachusetts has the best record when it comes to LGBT-inclusive sex ed, with 44 percent of secondary schools offering pertinent information on safe sex, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy. Massachusetts contrasts greatly with numerous Southern and Western states, where any discussion of homosexuality is banned in schools; Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah all fall into that category.
The need for information for LGBT students is great. HIV rates are rising among gay and bi male youth, while lesbian and bisexual girls have unintended pregnancy rates twice that of their straight peers (that can partially be explained by lesbian and bi youth being pressured to conform to societal norms by having straight sex). Transgender students also need accommodation; forcing a child who identifies as one sex to hear lessons intended for the other can be psychologically damaging.
Religious organizations are gearing up to fight the HRC and Planned Parenthood's initiative, though. The conservative Massachusetts Family Institute does not want to "normalize homosexuality" and instead advocates the teaching of abstinence-only education. Institute president Andrew Beckwith says any discussion other than that is too explicit.
“If you’re teaching about the birds and the bees, there’s no need to talk about anal and oral sex," Beckwith told the Globe. "It has nothing to do with reproduction."