Queering the Health Class Curriculum

by John Eichler

Anyone remember the great condom on the banana display? Or maybe it was a cucumber, depending on the phallic shaped produce that was on sale at your local farmers market that day. On a personal note in terms of my own health class, a condom was never even taken out of its packaging to be shown how to put it on, or even what it looked like. We talked about preventing STDs, pregnancy and even the steps of a penis ejaculating, but despite that lovely speaker telling me about my sperm count, I could still got the feeling that I was not fitting into these conversations.

I am a gay, gender questioning person, who never got a proper education on sexuality and identity, instead taking tests on the different kinds of contraception options and how marijuana is a gateway drug. I am not the only LGBTQ+ person to not receive a necessary inclusive education. GLSEN reported in 2017 that only 6.7% of Queer students received a sex education that properly represented them in its curriculum. This is extremely upsetting considering there are over three million LGBTQ+ youth in America, and of course growing.

You know why else this is super upsetting? There are a lot of reasons actually, so be prepared to be very disappointed. With so little representation of Queer identities in public education, all students are left ignorant of the complexity of the community. Being forced to only learn about heterosexual sex and not learning about other identity topics like gender in health class, youth will feel the need to conform to heteronormative and cisnormative ideals.

With this feeling of ostracization from their schooling, the feeling of wrongness continues with the treatment of students. The Trevor Project reported that about 71% of LGBTQ+ students had experienced discrimination, and a majority had experienced mental health issues, 39% having contemplated suicide.

Prejudice is learned in the absence of an inclusive and diverse education, and it continues in older ages. Six southern states adopted “No Promo Homo” laws that state schools cannot teach about the LGBTQ+ community. As long as ignorance can run rampant among people of all ages, the LGBTQ+ community will always be at risk.

Education is the key to ending prejudice and the systems of oppression that feed into it. According to a study put out by GLSEN, Planned Parenthood and other social justice groups, 85% of parents believe their children should be taught about sexuality and gender in high school, 78% of parents believe middle school children should. America and the world cannot progress without changing the way health education is structured and taught, and if more and more parents and students support it, the government should listen. Congress has definitely got a thing or two to learn themselves, otherwise they just keep finding new ways to fuck us and leave us unsatisfied.

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