Before starting the focus of this blog, I just want to take a moment to address those of you who may have clicked on it out of shock that this topic is even being covered. While sex education can feel taboo, there is no reason that it has to be. In today’s political climate where many personal decisions and freedoms are polarized, I ask that you approach this topic with patience and an open mind. I also want to remind readers that this current shift in traditional values is not something our country was founded on. In fact, our founders (while not perfect), supported citizen’s rights to personal freedoms were concerned. They fought to remove themselves from one particular religion’s values being enforced on the general public, and it was not until the early 20th century that more restrictive laws and values started to be promoted by spiritual leaders and politicians. You can learn more about this aspect of our history in these fantastic books in our collection.
Also, while this blog is focused on LGBTQ sex education, I want to emphasize that inclusive sex ed is useful and positive for people of all sexualities and genders. Certain sexual acts are not necessarily only for certain genders or couples, and there is something that everyone can learn from this topic. In addition, sex ed is still useful for people who identify as asexual or just do not want to have sex as this topic covers much more than just that.
What Sex Ed Is (And What It Isn’t)
While sex education can be a polarizing topic, it is nevertheless a critical part of education, and there are a plentiful number of resources that support the positive effects of sex education for teens that help them grow into responsible adults. Credible organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics have conducted studies that support that comprehensive sex education helps people understand their bodies and build self-esteem, teach respect for people with different sexualities and gender identities, and learn how to recognize abuse and seek help upon many other lessons.
Sex education utilizes medically accurate information based on science at appropriate age levels that ideally build upon itself throughout one’s educational journey. With this format, sex education does not teach children to have sex or seek sex out, rather it teaches them about their bodies and how to keep themselves safe. It’s not until they’re older that they would learn about more mature topics in sex education, and even then, it does not expose children or teens to explicit content or force them to learn about anything unnatural.
As a teen or young adult, sex ed can help prepare you for situations you may encounter and how to safely navigate them. Sex ed can teach you:
- How to talk about and get consent so you and your partner can feel safe
- Feel comfortable setting boundaries with partners to avoid getting hurt or abused
- Learn and understand your body so you can recognize problems and stay healthy
- Practice safe sexual behavior
- Understand and access health care to support sexual and reproductive health
With a library card, you have access to reliable, peer-reviewed online resources such as Gale Health, Health Source, Medline, and many others. Below are a few relevant topics to LGBTQ Sex Ed:
- Sexual Identity
- Gender Identity
- Reproductive Health
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
Know Your Status
One of the most important parts of sex education is understanding sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and feeling empowered to seek treatment when necessary. With all sexual activity comes the risk of an infection, but there are tools to reduce risk, and when an infection does happen, it’s not the end of the world! There are resources that exist to help people of all orientations get treatment.
One reason comprehensive sex ed is important is that it is proven to increase the use of safe sex tools like condoms, and it destigmatizes the idea of STIs. Many people are embarrassed or ashamed when they find they have STIs or worse, they are afraid of having one and never get checked. These cases can lead to dangerous or even life-threatening infections, and a lack of sex ed and increased stigma only exacerbate these problems.
One of the most infamous types of STIs is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV, and while this virus occurs more highly in the population of men who have sex with men, anyone can get HIV regardless of orientation or gender. Although this disease devasted the gay population in the past, we are lucky enough to live in an unprecedented time of treatment and prevention. To prevent getting HIV, there is a medication called Prep that can protect you from contracting HIV, and if you get HIV, medications now exist that inhibit the virus in your body so much so that it will never progress and it cannot be transmitted to another person, a status known as Undetectable. With proper treatment and medication, anyone with HIV can live a happy and healthy life without fear of passing the infection on.
Harris County Public Health has clinics you can go to for a variety of health screenings and they have a program for HIV/STD Prevention that you can learn more about on their website.
Sex education is varied across the United States, and there are many adults across the spectrum of gender and sexuality that have not had comprehensive sex education. This lack of experience can leave many adults of all ages confused and unsure of topics like sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships, and safe-sex practices. As bastions of information, we strive to make helpful information accessible to all people who seek it, and I hope that talking about these topics can help people understand how important and useful these resources can be.
With that, here are resources in our collection for inclusive sexual education that everyone can learn something from.