Lack of comprehensive sex education putting LGBTQ youth at risk
National Organizations Issue Call to Action to Improve Programs and Policies.
NEW YORK - On December 2nd, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), in partnership with Advocates for Youth, Answer, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), called for significant improvements in sex education programs to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have access to information crucial to their health and well being. Sixty-one additional organizations signed a letter in support of the Call to Action.
A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education urges educators, advocates, and policymakers to take immediate, concrete steps to provide LGBTQ inclusive education for all students --from crucial guidance for LGBTQ students on protecting themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, to ensuring safe, supportive environments in which to learn about their sexual health. Programs that overlook LGBTQ students, or worse, stigmatize and stereotype them, contribute to unsafe school environments.
“As the leading national education organization working to create safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students, GLSEN has long been committed to ensuring all schools include LGBTQ people, events and history in their curriculum, which our research shows helps to create positive school climates and better educational outcomes for LGBTQ students,” said Dr. Joe Kosciw, GLSEN’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer.
“Health and sexual education courses are one of the most natural and common classes in which students can learn about LGBTQ topics in a positive way; however, less than five percent of LGBTQ students were taught about LGBTQ topics in a positive way in health class. In fact, eight states prohibit schools from providing this vital, life-saving information. This sends a dangerous message to LGBTQ students, along with their non-LGBTQ peers, that they are not an equal and valued part of the school community.”
Data from a range of sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers and professional organizations show how few sex education programs are inclusive of LGBTQ youth. Only 19 percent of US secondary schools provide curricula or supplementary sex education materials that are LGBTQ-inclusive. Fewer than five percent of LGBT students have health classes that included positive representations of LGBT-related topics. This leaves many LGBTQ youth without the skills to maintain healthy relationships and protect themselves if they are engaging in sexual activity.
This call to action for inclusive sex education comes at a critical time, when different groups within the LGBTQ youth community are:
- More likely to have begun having sex at an early age and to have multiple partners compared to their heterosexual peers
- More likely to have sex while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- More likely to experience dating violence
- Less likely to use condoms or birth control when they have sex
- More likely to contract HIV or other STIs
- More likely to experience teen pregnancy
Studies show that parents, health professionals and experts, as well as youth, express high levels of support for LGBTQ-inclusive sex education. Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) call on advocates and policymakers to require and fund LGBTQ-inclusive sex education; and on educators to make schools safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ youth and provide inclusive sex education programs that empower all youth to take care of their sexual health.
Advocates for Youth partners with youth leaders, adult allies, and youth-serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs that recognize young people’s rights to honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and the resources and opportunities necessary to create sexual health equity for all youth.
Answer, a national program based at Rutgers University, provides and promotes comprehensive sex education for young people and the adults who teach them. For nearly 35 years, Answer has offered exceptional resources and training in support of medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education. Answer fulfills its mission of providing and promoting comprehensive sex education through two primary programs: Sex, Etc.—our teen-written sexual health magazine and website and our sex education training initiative.
Through the Sex, Etc. website and magazine, Answer reaches over two million teens every year with honest, accurate sexual health information and resources. Each year, Answer’s trainings provide more than 5,000 professionals with the tools they need to teach comprehensive sex education, effectively respond to students’ questions and create meaningful classroom experiences for young people learning about sexuality.
GLSEN is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students. Celebrating its 25th year, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Planned Parenthood is the nation's leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation's largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment.
Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)has served as the national voice for sexuality education, sexual health, and sexual rights for over 50 years. SIECUS affirms that sexuality is a fundamental part of being human, one that is worthy of dignity and respect. We advocate for the right of all people to accurate information, comprehensive education about sexuality, and sexual health services. SIECUS works to create a world that ensures social justice and sexual rights.
The Gayly - 12/9/2015 @ 12:50 p.m. CST