Why we need more inclusive sex ed
Let’s talk about sex for a minute.
If you’re like most people, then the sex education that you received in school was minimal. For an overwhelming majority, sex ed isn’t even an option on the curriculum at their high school or university. And for those who do receive it, they focus on preventative measures — condoms, birth control, STIs — and not much else.
But we owe it to ourselves to push for a more inclusive sex education.
My high school sex ed experience was as non-comprehensive as you could get. I didn't take my health class until nearly the end of my senior year in high school.
Very early into the course, I remember another student mentioning that “most of us were having sex anyway,” so why rush to the sex ed portion? And even though I didn’t have the language for it at the time, I remember feeling not quite right about that.
Sure, I — like some of my peers — was already having sex.
But that didn't mean we were having consensual, inclusive, positive, affirming sex.
We weren’t talking about consent or exploring intimacy. Many of my female friends described sexual situations that seemed coercive — but there was no one we could talk to about the difference between a hard no and an enthusiastic yes.
As I began exploring sexuality and sex education on my own, I realized what a disservice we were doing to ourselves by limiting sex ed to just preventative measures against STIs -- if we were even talking about it at all.
For myself and other queer folks, it was a long journey before we discovered our identities and built community among ourselves. No one talked about queerness or gender identity — or the separation between the two — until my sophomore year in college when I took an elective course that was filled to capacity.
When we dismiss the importance of inclusive sex ed, we reinforce the narrative that sex is bad, shameful, or only acceptable if it adheres to certain norms.
We also reinforce that sex can only mean one thing. In fact, one of the best things about sexuality is that it can be whatever you want it to be.
There needs to be space within sex education to talk about identity, representation, and nuance — for example, watching porn doesn’t make you a bad person, but the lack of ethical porn available for viewers (especially female viewers) reinforces how much our culture loves to embrace misogyny. We need to talk about violence within the queer community. We need to talk about the multitude of gender identities, and that sex and identity are not a binary two-way street.
There also needs to be a space for asexuality and its various forms within sex education. We need to give marginalized communities — especially communities of color — the tools to be able to healthily communicate their desires in a relationship or sexual encounter, and to be able to listen to someone else’s.
Everyone deserves to have the kind of sex life and relationships that they want. It’s time we stop gatekeeping “acceptable sex” to specific communities — and instead empower each other to educate ourselves.
These are all the things that have driven me on my journey towards becoming a sex educator, and why I'm so passionate about other marginalized people doing the same.
Sex is messy, loud, awkward, empowering, amazing, and something that we all deserve to experience in the ways that we want.
Inclusive sex ed is long overdue.