A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education
Formal sex education is 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 unintended teen pregnancy and STI rates.
In order 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.
A new issue brief by Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) highlights the dearth of inclusive sex education programs and the missed opportunities to make a difference for LGBTQ youth.
“All young people benefit from comprehensive sex education which addresses sexual orientation and gender identity in an affirming and respectful way,” said Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. “Further, LGBTQ youth have the right to information which can help them lead healthy lives. In keeping with the National Sexuality Education Standards, we call on policy makers to work to ensure LGBTQ-inclusive sexuality education for all students.”
A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education urges educators, advocates, and policymakers to take immediate, concrete steps to provide LGBTQ-inclusive sex education for all youth, by:
- Becoming advocates for LGBTQ-inclusive sex education
- Ensuring that school is a safe and accepting space for LGBTQ students
- Implementing LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in schools, community settings and online
- Talking to their own children and teens about sex and sexuality
- Working to remove state-level legal and policy barriers to LGBTQ-inclusive sex education in schools and require inclusive programs
This call to action for inclusive sex education comes at a critical time, when different groups within the LGBTQ youth community experience a number of health disparities, including higher rates of HIV, other STIs and unintended teen pregnancy. Many LGBTQ youth also experience stigma, rejection, or even violence in their schools and communities that negatively impacts their health. Research has shown that inclusive sex education can be a powerful tool that helps reduce the stigma and health disparities LGBTQ youth face and create safe, supportive schools.
“As a young LGBTQ person of Color, I believe that sex education is a right. I spent seven years of my life being bullied, teased, and discriminated against by my peers and teachers. I know that if I had had sex education that honored my LGBTQ identity, then I would have felt more confident and sure of myself. Inclusive sex education would have provided me with a safe and accepting school environment, as well as knowledge about my sexuality and positive ideas about how I love,” said Adrian, a youth activist from Denver, Colorado.
In acknowledgement of the needs of LGBTQ youth, we, the undersigned organizations, support the Call to Action and ask educators, advocates, and policymakers to make LGBTQ-inclusive sex education the standard for all youth.