A Dichotomous View of Sex Ed Sparks Tension Between LGBTQ Activists and Conservatives

For many middle and high school students, sex ed is an awkward and uncomfortable class as it discusses potentially taboo and personally offensive topics. And for LGBTQ students, sex ed is ultimately pointless. Speaking from personal experience, the sex ed classes I took were not at all helpful because what was discussed was mostly heterosexual, penis in vagina sex. While that does have practical use, it did nothing for me, a gay man. I frequently thought that high school sex ed should teach other things, such as sexualities other than heterosexual and how to be safe while performing non-PIV sexual acts.

Many people in Orange County, California shared my sentiments and passed the California Healthy Youth Act in 2016 which requires sex education courses to teach about the needs of LGBTQ students and HIV prevention, as well as teaching about gender and different sexualities. Accoridng to the CA Board of Education, the CHYA's goal is to educate students on prevention of HIV and other STDs as well as unwanted pregnancies, promote a healthy attitude toward growth, development, body image, and accepting different sexual orientations and gender identities, promote the notion that understanding one's sexual orientation is a normal part of life, and much more. Personally I think that this is a great idea, but a great deal of people are upset about it.

On Wednesday, there was a forum in the Orange County Department of Education building to discuss the California Healthy Youth Act while, according to the OC Register, protests broke out in the parking lot between two very opposing groups: one that included the members of the LGBT Center OC who are in support of the CHYA, and a sizable group of people who were chanting Christian hymns and urged the Board of Education to stop indoctrinating children and to cease teaching "perversion" in schools. The six panelists involved in the forum were all opposed to sex ed classes teaching about gender and non-hetero sexualities.

Within the building, hundreds of like-minded, abstinence-only people gathered to oppose to the existing sex-ed laws, held strong anti-LGBT views, with certain panelists being advocates of conversion therapy and anti-LGBT inclusion in sex ed classes. Because of the overwhelming anti-LGBT tone within the forum, the members of the LGBT Center OC decided to stand outside the building and listen in. By having an echo chamber within the meeting, there is a chance that the CHYA will be overturned and sex ed curricula will return to serving only heterosexual students. Advocates of the law say that it prevents discrimination of LGBTQ students by being inclusive.

I think that the CHYA is a much-needed act as it shows that not everyone fits so neatly into a mold, but specific people have a problem with inclusivity in schools. Perhaps we need to educate adults on accepting non-heterosexual sexualities and non-cisgender gender identities in order for people to be more inclusive and to stop calling LGBTQ people's natural feelings "perversions."

h/t: OC Register, CA Department of Education

What do you think?