Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth need and deserve to learn in settings that are inclusive of their experiences and that give them the education necessary to stay safe and healthy. Far too many LGBTQ youth are sitting in classrooms where their teachers and textbooks fail to appropriately address their identities, behaviors and experiences. Nowhere is this absence more clear, and potentially more damaging, than in sex education.
Sex education can be one of the few sources of reliable information on sexuality and sexual health for youth. Hundreds of studies have shown that well-designed and well-implemented sex education can reduce risk behavior and support positive sexual health outcomes among teens, such as reducing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates. Recently High school senior KC Miller wrote the Pennsylvania Healthy Youth Act to advocate for comprehensive sex ed in his state, and after garnering support from grassroots organizations, he plans to take it to the Pennsylvania legislature.
Unlike most teens his age, he's also running his own non-profit. Miller is the president and founder of the Keystone Coalition for Advancing Sex Education (CASE), a grassroots organization advocating comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in Pennsylvania schools.Also read : This Mexican immigrant could not communicate in English. Now he does it with wonderful graffiti
Pennsylvania's sex education guidelines don't require schools to teach anything other than HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases. Miller believes it's time for new standards that take current research on adolescent sexual health and wellness into account. Toward that end, he drafted the Pennsylvania Healthy Youth Act. The legislation, based on the California Healthy Youth Act that became law in 2015, requires schools to provide instruction on sexual orientation, contraception, intimate partner violence, and sexual harassment.
Miller has already received widespread recognition for his work. In August, he received the Young Heroes Award from the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, which honors young people who have made a positive impact on their communities.Also read : The Struggle of a Taxi Driver to Save His Love From the Red Streets Had its Happy Ending
Advancing sex education in schools to talk about sexual assault, consent, and safe sex are all ways we can educate people and deter sexual violence. As a gay student, I feel particularly motivated because I saw firsthand how these programs fail to help LGBTQ+ people. We're neglecting the queer community, and they deserve inclusive and comprehensive sex education just like everyone else. In the end, I simply want to empower people with the tools to keep their bodies happy, safe, and healthy.
For LGBTQ youth to experience comparable health benefits to their non-LGBTQ peers, sex education programs must be LGBTQ-inclusive. Inclusive programs are those that help youth understand gender identity and sexual orientation with age-appropriate and medically accurate information; incorporate positive examples of LGBTQ individuals, romantic relationships and families; emphasize the need for protection during sex for people of all identities; and dispel common myths and stereotypes about behavior and identity.Also read : A Young Man and his Vision is positively impacting the young people of Palestine through the art of skateboarding
In qualitative research conducted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, LGBTQ youth reported either not having any sex education in their schools or having limited sex education that was primarily or exclusively focused on heterosexual relationships between cisgender people (people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth), and pregnancy prevention within those relationships.
The research also showed that LGBTQ youth have a limited number of trusted adults they feel comfortable talking with about sexual health, so they frequently seek information online or from peers. Much of the sexual health information online is neither age-appropriate nor medically accurate, and peers may be misinformed.