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Friday, June 27, 2008

“I know of NO sex ed program that acknowledges the existence of gay people.”

posted by on June 27 at 11:16 AM

James in the comments thread on my earlier post

“Abstinence-only sex ed programs donít acknowledge the existence of gay people, much less give young gay people the tools they need to protect themselves.”

Actually, I’d expand on that point. I know of NO sex ed program that acknowledges the existence of gay people. Mine back in high school was pretty comprehensive (we had a huge problem with teen pregnancy… classrooms converted into nurseries to encourage mom and dad to stay in school, etc.). I learned all fifty million ways to keep a girl from getting pregnant. I learned about all sorts of STDs, sperm-killing foam, diaphragms, and more. There was even required viewing of a video of a birth (three football players passed out, and one girl went into false labor). They even told us which condom brands are less likely to break during heterosexual intercourse.

But, nothing at all on gay sex. Notta. Zip. Not that I was looking at that point (I didn’t come out until a few years later). Still, seeing as how we had notebooks and notebooks of information on hotlines, clinics, counselors, and welfare programs we could turn to for help with our straight sex lives, you’d think the could’ve at least handed us an index card with a few info hotlines or clinics or medical experts we could talk to safely about gay sex.

And, you’re right. There is no gay community. I know many Seattleites disagree on this point. But really, I’ve never encountered this supposed inclusive, all-encompassing gay community. The closest thing we have is an annual parade. And if that constitutes a community, then I’m sure there’s also a “Thanksgiving Community” and a “Veterans Day Community” and a “Christmas Community.”

RSS icon Comments

1

I went to high school in Boise, ID. Homosexuality was an entire lecture in health, and it was acknowledged in all of the sex-ed courses I had to attend from junior high to high school. It was handled with neutrality, but (of course) the class, and me, namely me, took care of that ourselves. I totally don't miss the closet.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 27, 2008 11:30 AM
2

Whether or not there is actually a gay community, Dan is right in that we can do nothing to educate and help young gay people until they come out on their own and join the gay community (however you define that). All of the HIV prevention efforts in the gay community are targeted at gay bars and bathhouses and gay men's health clinics and (defunct) community centers and gay publications... none of which reach gay youth.

I remember this article well. It was something I hadn't given much thought to before. I didn't come out until I was in my mid-20s, and there were NO out gay kids when I was in school. I went to high school in the late 1970s, so there was no health risk to gay youth back then that couldn't be cured with a simple penicillin shot.

If we want to educate gay youth about HIV, that is going to have to happen at home and in schools. There is little the gay "community" can do about it when they are still living at home and going to school.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | June 27, 2008 11:40 AM
3

Arizona law FORBIDS any mention of homosexual-inclusive sex ed in health ed classes:

"15-716. Instruction on acquired immune deficiency syndrome; department assistance
A. Each common, high and unified school district may provide instruction to kindergarten
programs through the twelfth grade on acquired immune deficiency syndrome and the human
immunodeficiency virus.
B. Each district is free to develop its own course of study for each grade. At a minimum,
instruction shall:
1. Be appropriate to the grade level in which it is offered.
2. Be medically accurate.
3. Promote abstinence.
4. Discourage drug abuse.
5. Dispel myths regarding transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.
C. No district shall include in its course of study instruction which:
1. Promotes a homosexual life-style.
2. Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.
3. Suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.
D. At the request of a school district, the department of health services or the department of
education shall review instruction materials to determine their medical accuracy.
E. At the request of a school district, the department of education shall provide the following
assistance:
1. A suggested course of study.
2. Teacher training
3. A list of available films and other teaching aids.
F. At the request of a parent, a pupil shall be excused from instruction on the acquired immune
deficiency syndrome and the human immunodeficiency virus as provided in subsection A of
this section. The school district shall notify all parents of their ability to withdraw their child
from the instruction."

Ways I worked around this as a parent: I guided my kid to Planned Parenthood websites, gave her inclusive brochures from Pride festivals, sought out inclusive books on the subject, etc. While she's not gay, the info found its way to friends who needed the info. A way around it for teachers: talk about it in social studies, history or biology class (avoid the Health Ed label). Some of our state legislative reps work to repeal or modify this every year (substituting "scientificall accurate" for the guidelines), but so far to no avail.

Posted by SoloInAZ | June 27, 2008 11:45 AM
4

Interestign observation. I went to a private elementary school that served as a laboratory for a local college. There we DID INDEED learn about homosexuality in our 6th grade "human growth and change" class. It was done without graphics, and talked of more in terms of love, feelings, and attractions that a normal percentage of any human population feels. This was like half an hour out of a course which met for a few hours a week for several weeks.

Posted by sasha | June 27, 2008 11:51 AM
5

The real problem here is that we expect schools to teach our children about complex moral issues and then to make informed decisions about those issues.

Bullshit.

Sex ed should be taught in the home and the church. Children need to be taught by their actual community, not by a curriculum that has passed the muster of a legislative session.


This is the sex ed program that I was taught: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/About_Your_Sexuality

Which has since evolved into this program: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Whole_Lives

I would really recommend anyone with children to get their kids involved with this program. Not that I have kids, but I used to be involved with the teaching of the 7-9 and 10-12 programs.

Posted by Graham | June 27, 2008 11:54 AM
6

Interesting comments here. When I had Sex Ed in Catholic school in the 1980s, I seem to remember it as being more biology-based so that I could identify the urethra, etc. and so I knew how babies exited the womb. No homosexuality -- I am gay, btw.

Frankly, I think schools fail to teach MANY useful things, Sex Ed included (with some info about the gays, too!) For example, I wish my High School would have taught me the principles behind CREDIT CARDS before I got into debt in my 20s. Oy!

The truth is that some Moms and Dads don't teach their children about credit -- let alone sex!

Posted by Matt | June 27, 2008 12:13 PM
7

Yeah I went to school in Montana. In my district it was illegal for teachers to even mention condoms. Our sex-ed and health classes mostly consisted of education on what STD's are and how people get them...we had to watch the birthing video too, it was disgusting. I don't care if you think birth is beautiful, even the mother to be doesn't get that kind of view when it's coming out...lordy.

The schools would occasionally contract out other groups to talk about condoms...but it was a rarity and you had to elect to go to it. Most of the education programs were monogamy based...and of course, for heteros.

Posted by Hunter | June 27, 2008 12:27 PM
8

Yep, I had to get through my hetero sex ed class thinking dirty homo thoughts of my stud teacher keeping me after class and teaching me in private with ours

Posted by Non | June 27, 2008 12:27 PM
9

Dan, I don't disagree that there is no gay community if you define community as a collection of people with a shared cause or sense of wanting/needing to care for one another.

It's more of a gay aggregate, probably...a bunch of very different people thrown together with no common bond aside from sexuality.

That said, I don't know what to call the sense of mission I feel to support gay rights, access to affordable healthcare, etc -- it feels like community in my heart.

But still, I don't kid myself that that community is all warm and fuzzy -- the gay guy who gets help from my donation to HRC will probably tell me to fuck off if I hit on him on Manhunt.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 27, 2008 12:27 PM
10

what does a 'community' look like?
what is that in the context of 'gay community?'

Posted by chops | June 27, 2008 12:33 PM
11

#9 beat me to it. thanks.

Posted by chops | June 27, 2008 12:36 PM
12

Sex ed should be taught in the home and the church. Children need to be taught by their actual community, not by a curriculum that has passed the muster of a legislative session.

It can't be an either/or. First off, not everyone goes to "the church"--whatever that is--and lots of kids feel very alienated by whatever wacked religious institution their parents happen to attend. Second, not only do many foster kids never have a steady home, but many times parents are hopelessly incompetent, particularly in this department.

Of course, it's probable that no school program will be able to totally replace any level of incompetent parenting, but that doesn't mean other citizens--gay, straight, whatever, should just throw up our hands and let the schools be as lousy as they can be, and let wack-job fundies take over legislation regulating this stuff.

GLBTQ people and PFLAGgers ARE citizens, we CAN ALL insist on good or at least better schools, even when that seems hopeless.

When there are good schools, and they do exist in places on this planet (the Netherlands, e.g., & a few even in this country), they really CAN provide a kind of community, particularly for a child in a lousy (for whatever reason, in whatever way) family or no real family, and they CAN help give reasonable, accurate, helpful information about human sexuality. This is not impossible.

Posted by Lori | June 27, 2008 12:36 PM
13

There's community support for youth in the Bay Area, why not Seattle? The DeFrank LGBT Center in San Jose has offered programs for GLBTQQ youth for years -- they're one of the agencies that provided literature at the United Way fairs my former employer held.

Posted by strait but not narrow | June 27, 2008 12:41 PM
14

Lots of birthing mothers have a mirror put up so they can see everything. It sort of helps pushing if you can see that you're making some progress.

Anyway, the key to birth is that it makes all the difference if it is your kid or somebody else's kid. Who wants to look at somebody else's birth?

Seems like if you believe a school is an appropriate place to learn any subject, it is an appropriate place to learn about sex. If you think schools can't teach sex, why do you think they can teach math? Oh, wait I know: One is reality-based and the other is a collection of myths that can't stand up to challenge by anyone. Must be kept safely in the home.

Posted by elenchos | June 27, 2008 12:42 PM
15

My shitty abstinence only class (all the way back in 1992. Way to be ahead of the bullshit curve, Roswell, New Mexico!) did mention gays. Once. It was theorized that we had a hormonal disorder. That was it.

On the other hand my seventh grade bio teacher mentioned that anal sex was riskier thanks to the higher risk of condoms breaking, and that was two years earlier.

Posted by Gitai | June 27, 2008 12:52 PM
16

For the sake of full disclosure, I should admit that I never took any sex ed at all. And sure enough, here I am, not even 40, and faced with the prospect of fatherhood after having entered into one of those "pregnancy pacts" with my wife.

Posted by elenchos | June 27, 2008 1:08 PM
17

As I recall, my church's sex ed program for the older youth treated gay folks and gay sex positively. This was the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program, and I went to a Unitarian Universalist church.

Posted by Sara | June 27, 2008 1:15 PM
18

People are so paranoid about their kids. The religionists want to attack us every time we try to do something positive. But "no gay community"? That's just false. Gay people work trielessly at AIDS lifeline and Chicken Soup. We also come together on GLBT Community Center, election campaigns, and various legal groups that promote GLBT rights. As important as educating children is, many parents want to keep their children as ignorant as they are, bad as that may be.

Posted by Vince | June 27, 2008 2:31 PM
19

No gay community? I was kinda looking forward to that.

Posted by anthony | June 27, 2008 2:43 PM
20

the unitarian sex-ed curriculum that a few other commenters have mentioned (our whole lives, or OWL) is truly badass. very comprehensive, including slideshows of naked people of all shapes and sizes and people of all gender, race, and age combinations in a host of terrifying (at the time) sexual positions. also had a panel of glbt folks come in for a frank discussion and question and answer session. anyone wondering how to get their kids an excellent sex ed curriculum should just send 'em to a UU church for middle school.
and in response to the person who said sex ed belongs only in the church and the home, i think the reason it's in the schools is that it's a public health issue. that's pretty undeniable.

Posted by anna | June 27, 2008 3:50 PM
21

"If we want to educate gay youth about HIV, that is going to have to happen at home and in schools. There is little the gay "community" can do about it when they are still living at home and going to school."

Hello, welcome to the internet?! Of course you can reach gaylings while they're still at home and in school, they've got the Google don't they?

Posted by Willie Hewes | June 30, 2008 2:29 AM

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