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The Issue with Queer Sex Education? We Don't Have Enough of It

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Further, in states with abstinence only education and a lack of access to sexuality educators at places like Planned Parenthood, the unwanted pregnancy numbers among teens have increased significantly. States that push abstinence only are ranking in the top teen states of the country for teen pregnancy including Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Sexuality education in the U.S. is clearly problematic and even more so when it comes to queerness.

The issue with sexuality education and queer sex ed is: We don’t have enough of it. The reclamation of the word ‘queer’ by today’s youth has been empowering for most folx. Queer is more inclusive than “gay” and has moved from an insult to a celebration, an identifier and, as always, a political stance.  Queer, as an identity, represents anyone who feels different from the presentation of how boy and girls, men and women should exist. This may mean that a youth feels more masculine or feminine than their assigned sex at birth. It may mean that they have attraction to the same sex, it may mean that they have no romantic feelings at all. It may mean that they want a nontraditional relationship style, or that they have interest in varied types of pleasure. (I know! It’s hard to think about — but we must to help our youth be equipped for these parts of their lives.)

Queerness is painfully missing from curricula — but projects like It Gets Better’s Queer Sex Ed look to stand in the gap. Queer Sex Ed brings together friends of various social groups, body sizes, identities and relationship statuses to have conversation about navigating life. With two sexuality professionals, Melina Gaze and me (Dr. Lexx Brown-James), framing the conversation by adding facts, discerning when something is fiction and supporting the queer narrative from mental health and global perspectives. 

“…queering sex ed doesn’t have to be about taboo sexual acts. Instead, it’s about community-building, self-love, healing, boundary-setting, and accessing pleasure in life beyond sexual intimacy.”

Showing youth individuals they can relate to gives them hope that a larger affirming community exists and reminds them that they are not alone. In this community they could, ideally, build safe relationships while growing the pieces of their identity that are key to them creating a fulfilling life of adult intimacy. Queer sex ed teaches parents and youth about the actual world we exist within, so that our youth can make informed decisions that keep them safe and allow them to thrive. And what parent doesn’t want their child to thrive? 

Adolescence can be difficult. Pre-teens are figuring out their identity as an individual and as part of a group, while managing new sensations and hormone fluctuations. Consider what it is like as a youth who feels they are intrinsically wrong and condemned for feelings they didn’t choose. Or, imagine a youth who has never seen a healthy relationship, affection between people who adore one another or one who has never met or seen another queer person. It Gets Better Queer Sex Ed is a series that helps spotlight what young people are actually experiencing as they navigate intimacy — and is an excellent demonstration of how queering sex ed doesn’t have to be about taboo sexual acts. Instead, it’s about community-building, self-love, healing, boundary-setting, and accessing pleasure in life beyond sexual intimacy.

Because all in all, sex education isn’t just about intercourse. Sex Ed includes supporting a human in their entirety. Their self esteem, their ability to establish significant and safe relationships, their decision making, and how the level of comfort they feel in their own skin. True caregivers  want to equip their kid for success. The question is: Are you ready (or willing to get ready) to equip your kid for success with sex ed? 

Before you go, check out our favorite mental health apps for giving your mind, body and spirit a little more TLC:

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