When you hear the term “sexuality”, what comes to mind? It is the words gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual and transgender that generally arise. However, there is so much more to sexuality than these words that are seen flashing across parade signs and media announcements that we see in our everyday life. It seems that our narrow knowledge of sexuality begins with “parental anger over sex ed” (Zeilinger), and ends in timid classroom lectures. The inability of people to see past the somewhat vulgar details of sexual education leads to queers being afraid to come out, adolescents learning from profit based porn, and a myriad of uneducated teens.
With only 22 states and Washington, D.C. requiring comprehensive sex education, only 13 requiring that the information be medically accurate, and 8 with laws limiting what teachers can say about homosexuality (Zeilinger), how are teens supposed to know anything but abstinence? While abstinence is preferable according to many, it is ignorant to assume that the changing bodies of teenagers will remain abstinent when left without safe sex education. It has actually been proven that abstinence-only sex education encourages shame and judgment about the decision to have sex, while ignoring or marginalizing those students who are not heterosexual (Zeilinger). In fact, abstinence-only education has been shown to produce higher teen pregnancy rates, while educating about sex has been seen to even delay sexual activity (Zeilinger). It seems parents and authoritative figures in the school systems are outsmarting themselves with their absence of sex education, and in return are experiencing contrasting results.
The failure to acknowledge any sexuality, other than heterosexual has taken a toll on the LGBTQ community. Though many argue that people are born homosexuals, Ziyad describes his experience choosing a life as a queer. Despite his “natural and innate” attraction and body exploration with boys at an early age (Ziyad), he continued to identify as heterosexual. After the feeling of tenderness Ziyad felt with men, he “chose to be queer” (Ziyad) in his later years. Hating the effect his coming out would have on relationships with friends and family, he delayed his homosexual identity. As Sibel Sayiner and Violet Trachtenberg exclaim in their performance, queers don’t need the sponsors or spectators that they draw in in their parades. What they need is employment, equal access to health care, and overall equality (Button Poetry). If our society and schools would merely acknowledge the sexuality of those other than heterosexuals, the LGBTQ community could live with the freedom that is rightfully theirs (Ziyad), and receive the acceptance they so deserve.
As a result, what’s left untaught in the classroom is found on the computer screens of teens. Porn remains popular as curious students continue to seek education elsewhere. Unfortunately, the focus on profit from white men and the “sexual dehumanization” of women in mainstream porn (Tarplin) is teaching all the wrong ideals. Dylan Ryan, feminist porn star, perfectly expresses this concern when she says it seems that “sex is happening ‘to’ these women rather than with them” (Tarplin). Thankfully feminist porn is changing the game by focusing more on respect, diversity, comfort, safety and consent (Tarplin). It’s a saddening thought that there is easier access to porn than comprehensive sex education (Tarplin), and it’s time for that to change. Young people shouldn’t be learning about sexuality by watching porn, and our society needs to become more open minded about sexual education. It’s time.
Button Poetry. (2014, April 11). Sibel Sayiner & Violet Trachtenberg – “Pride” Retrieved June 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dYBpj4VaBo
TEDx Talks. (2015, March 30). Feminist porn: Shifting our sexual culture | Olivia Tarplin | TEDxJerseyCity. Retrieved June 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x38-iHvUqLY
Zeilinger, J. (2015, August 10). John Oliver, Laverne Cox and Nick Offerman Just Gave Us the Sex Ed PSA America Needs. Retrieved June 13, 2016, from https://mic.com/articles/123634/john-oliver-laverne-cox-and-nick-offerman-just-gave-us-the-sex-ed-psa-america-needs#.r65wOkEyk
Ziyad, H. (2015, September 30). Choosing Queer: I Was Not Born This Way, And That’s Ok. – RaceBaitR. Retrieved June 13, 2016, from http://racebaitr.com/2015/09/30/choosing-queer-i-was-not-born-this-way-and-thats-ok/