LGBTQ inclusive education is paramount, yet protests against this have swept across the country like an epidemic. So, I’m going to share the sex education I received in high school and state why it cannot go back to that.
‘Who can tell me what these are?’ Our teacher asked as she held a box out in front of the class. ‘Anyone? ‘She tailed off, leaving the question open, her words hanging in the air awkwardly. Most of the class knew what she was holding, it was a box of condoms. Yet I sat anxiously clutching my desk.
A minute later the token class clown yelled out, ‘Rubbers, Miss!’ and the room exploded with laughter. To anyone passing by it probably sounded like someone detonated a circus. Our first sex education class was in full swing, and it was about as fun as being forced to dig my own grave at gun point.
During the next class, I tried to keep to myself. I shrunk into my seat and avoided the teacher’s gaze. Yet as time ticked by, I started noticing the videos and diagrams were all to do with how heterosexuals have intercourse – but what about me? As the lessons and weeks passed, I went from trying to be invisible, to genuinely feeling as though I was.
I was thirteen at the time, and the self-loathing seed had been planted.
I can say with confidence that the lack LGBTQ inclusive education was nothing to do with the teacher’s personal prejudice, it simply wasn’t a part of the curriculum at the time. As a result, I had to learn about my sexuality and the LGBTQ community in unconventional, and often tainted, ways – through my peers.
To them, the word ‘gay’ was nothing more than a slur; and when I first came to school with my nails painted, I was called a ‘tranny.’ After that I tried to hide my feminine traits because everyone around me treated them as taboo.
The first time I was privy to how gay guys had sex was when I secretly started binging episodes of Queer as Folk after my parents went to bed (subsequently the show was also where I first learned about HIV and AIDS.)
Whenever I talked about liking a boy it was met with remarks like ‘poof’ and uncomfortable, disgusted glances. I was hit, mocked and made to feel as if I was inherently wrong for being gay – the worst part, I started to believe it.
But how was I or my peers to know better? Our LGBTQ knowledge was limited and ignorant; nothing more than little scraps of information picked up on the playground and tossed about idly.
Being denied an LGBTQ inclusive education not only slowed the growth of my emotional intelligence, it also left me resenting an immutable aspect of myself: the fact I am gay.
Now, with all these anti-LGBTQ inclusive education protests, we’re facing the possibility of recreating that same toxic environment for another generation of youths. We cannot have that. Here’s why:
High schools may be full of kids, but they can be Game of Thrones when you pull back the veil – particularly for LGBTQ+ youth. And this hostility can often be amplified by lack of awareness and inclusive education on same-sex relationships and gender identity.
As a kid you assume the people you love will love you unconditionally for the rest of your life. By denying any child an unbiased education on what it means to be gay, trans, bisexual, to be themselves, you’re going against that narrative.
You’re saying, ‘who you are isn’t worthy of acknowledgement’ and that message is toxic to the growth of any young person.
In life you need the strength to find people who will love you for being you. If we don’t teach children (regardless if they’re cis, gay, straight etc) about the existence of LGBTQ people you’re essentially setting up emotional barriers and social roadblocks for them and others they’ll meet in life.
How can we expect kids to treat others with love and kind, when we’re entertaining ideas that will teach them only hate and exclusion? This is why it’s imperative that kids are taught about LGBTQ people.
Us existing is not ‘age inappropriate’ – it’s a normal part of everyday life.
All I took from sex education classes was how to put a condom on various vegetables and that I couldn’t get pregnant – that and a whole bunch of self-loathing.
I didn’t leave armed with a clue of the risks and dangers that you face as a LGBTQ person. It wasn’t until I gained some traction from real-life encounters that I started to become more educated (I also learned that most guys typically don’t have a cock the size of a cucumber.)
I also wasn’t taught until years later that there’s nothing wrong with being gay.
This is why education should operate without bias. It shouldn’t be tailored or hindered by the beliefs of individuals. More so, we shouldn’t use faith– regardless of what your religion may be – as a disguise for a personal brand of prejudice.
I found out recently that my old high school now has a LGBTQ society set up and that honestly made my heart swell.
The idea of a haven for any one struggling is nothing short of beautiful. Particularly in a small community where it once didn’t exist. Can you imagine that being taken away?
By denying children an unbiased education you’re fostering the belief in another generation that being LGBTQ is wrong – when it isn’t. And if we take away inclusive education in schools, we run the risk of resurrecting the hate and ignorance we are still fighting so hard to beat back.
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