Parents have been advocating for more inclusive sexual education (also known as sex-ed) across schools that applies to people of all genders and sexual preferences. A recent survey by the nonprofit Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) states that, less than 1 in 10 students who identify as LGBTQ+ said they did not receive any kind of sex-ed that was inclusive to their identities. An article written by Brittany Wong on Huffington Post speaks about several ways for sex education to be more accurate and inclusive. They mention to the following six points…
- Talk with your tween/teen about gender identity earlier in life, just as their gender identity develops, because this can be important for healthy development,
- Discuss menstruation as part of sex-ed for all tweens/teens regardless of their gender identity,
- Encourage inclusive sex education that centers the discussion of non-sexually transmitted infections, as absolutely normal and commonplace. For example, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, etc.,
- Teach your teen that labels do not need to define them and it’s okay to question their interests, as sexuality can be fluid throughout their life,
- Explain to your teen that there are multiple ways to have sex with their partner(s) of choice. It is important to give them honest information that is not misleading. This includes proper usage of condoms and other methods that protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs),
- And, make it a priority to always show your teen how to care for their body parts. It’s important to know “what’s normal” in development versus when to seek out a doctor.
There is important progress being made in improving sex education. Fiona Tapp wrote an article for Parents.com about changes to the sex-ed curriculum over the recent years. She discusses how information about same-sex relationships, healthy relationships, consent, and information about different forms of contraception have increasingly been covered in schools. However, there is still a long way to go. Parents have an opportunity to supplement and encourage healthy sexual behaviors outside the classroom, until sex education is truly inclusive everywhere.
Changing your language and approach to promote inclusivity and open conversation is important for youth of all gender identities. The feeling of being accepted and acknowledged can improve overall health outcomes for teens part of this community. Remember to lead conversations with an open mind and ability to learn more together, remain non-judgmental when discussing sexuality and reproductive health, and most importantly, avoid common conversation “roadblocks”. These roadblocks can be dominating the conversation, lecturing, or not taking your teen’s concerns seriously. Be an ally and recognize the important role you have in your teen’s life and development.
ParentsAreTALKING has also recently published an article on what general sex education may not teach your teens in school. Check out our article here.
Listen to this podcast with your teen about conversations around LGBTQ+ sex education in a small town: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/01/706944327/when-the-conversation-doesnt-include-you-lgbtq-sex-ed-in-a-small-town