Ortiz: Sex education has yet to be more inclusive

Kenia Ortiz

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In my previous article “Talking openly about sex encourages safe sex, not more sex,” I discussed how openly talking about sex on campus encourages safe sex and provides further sex education to our community.

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However, the sex education conversation still mainly revolves around heterosexual couples.

I remember when I took sex-ed in middle school, sex was explained to me as “penis into vagina.” Condoms were introduced as a way of keeping women from getting pregnant and protected both the male and female partner from spreading or receiving STDs. Dental dams were explained as a way of women protecting themselves and their male partner from STDs during oral sex.

Not once was it mentioned that a woman could use a dental dam when performing oral sex on another woman.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, “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.”

Safe, fun, comfortable sex is something that everyone deserves to partake in if they choose to do so. Schools should teach sex education that allows everyone to enjoy sex safely.”-Jorge Espinoza, CSU student

Condoms, birth control, pregnancies, abortion and pulling out are topics that current sex education revolves around. While that information is important and crucial to encouraging people to have safe sex, it’s not information that resonates with everyone.

“Middle school sex education made me think that the only way to engage in sex was with women,” said Jorge Espinoza, third-year journalism and ethnic studies major. “Now that I have no interest in having sex with women, I have to figure out what safe sex looks like for me and my partners when I should have learned in middle school with my hetero-performing peers.”

While sex-ed has been heteronormative for a long time, people are willing to change that.

The Human Rights Campaign article “A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Health Education” said that “85% of parents surveyed supported discussion of sexual orientation as part of sex education in high school, and 78% supported it in middle school. Sex education is a logical venue to help all youth learn about sexual orientation and gender identity and to encourage acceptance for LGBTQ people and families.”

The sex positivity seminar displays various books, films and postcards about sexuality. Photo by Katie Schmidt.

No one should be ignored, shamed or left to educate themselves on a topic that everyone else is being educated on. Sex should be enjoyable, safe and consensual for everyone. 

“Most LGBTQ+ couples don’t have the option of getting pregnant biologically, so they have to look at many options, but most of the time, they don’t know where to look or what to do,” said Litzy Lastra, first-year family and consumer sciences major. “I’m not saying I want to have a child now, but when I start thinking of it, I want to know what to do or where to go, so I have to look for it on my own and do research and find people who can help me with the information and options.”

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According to GLSEN, there are four things not to do when discussing non-heteronormative sex lives. There is the ignoring approach, the demonizing approach, the stigmatizing approach and the trans-gender excluding approach. However, there is one thing that should be done: the truly LGBTQ-inclusive approach, which encompasses LGTBQ sex lives, identities and issues.

“Sex education made me feel ashamed about having non penis-vagina sex,” Espinoza said. “(It) really kills the mood when you’re trying to have a good time. Nonetheless, now that I’ve overcome that stigma, I can have the enjoyable safe sex I should have been having all along. Safe, fun, comfortable sex is something that everyone deserves to partake in if they choose to do so. Schools should teach sex education that allows everyone to enjoy sex safely.”

Sex education should allow people the space to feel comfortable asking questions and to be open about their sex lives. 

Kenia Ortiz can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Kenia_Ortiz_.