Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, in partnership with Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), called for significant improvements in sex education programs to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth have access to information crucial to their health and well being. More than 60 additional organizations signed a letter in support of the Call to Action.
A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education, urges educators, advocates, and policymakers to take immediate, concrete steps to provide LGBTQ inclusive education for all students–from crucial guidance for LGBTQ students on protecting themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, to ensuring safe, supportive environments in which to learn about their sexual health. Programs that overlook LGBTQ students or, worse, stigmatize and stereotype, contribute to unsafe school environments.
“It’s a fact that most LGBTQ youth don’t see themselves, or their sexual health considerations, discussed in school sex education classes,” said Jay Brown, the Director of Research and Public Education at HRC Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization. “This education gap not only compromises their health, but also can feed anti-LGBTQ hostility in their schools. We are committed to helping change that by supporting accurate, age-appropriate and culturally-competent programs.”
Data from a range of sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers and professional organizations show how few sex education programs are inclusive of LGBTQ youth. Only 19% of US secondary schools provide curricula or supplementary sex education materials that are LGBTQ-inclusive. Fewer than five percent of LGBT students have health classes that included positive representations of LGBT-related topics. This leaves many LGBTQ youth without the skills to maintain healthy relationships and protect themselves if they are engaging in sexual activity. This call to action for inclusive sex education comes at a critical time, when sexual minority youth are:
- More likely to have begun having sex at an early age and to have multiple partners compared to their heterosexual peers;
- More likely to have sex while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;
- More likely to experience dating violence;
- Less likely to use condoms or birth control when they have sex;
- More likely to contract HIV or other STIs;
- And more likely to experience teen pregnancy.
Studies show that parents, health professionals and experts, as well as youth, express high levels of support for LGBTQ-inclusive sex education. Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, HRC Foundation, PPFA, and SIECUS call on advocates and policymakers to require and fund LGBTQ-inclusive sex education; and on educators to make schools a safe space for LGBTQ youth and provide inclusive sex education programs that empower all youth to take care of their sexual health.