I am thinking about pursuing the topic of teaching about homosexuality in school because I very strongly believe that we should be teaching the youth of today all about different sexualities. This topic is most important to me as I want to be an elementary school teacher and it will affect my life directly.
Part 1: As someone who has been an activist for equal rights in the LGBTQ community, as well as someone who has friends and family that identify as LGBTQ, there is a potential for me to be biased in my writing. Nevertheless, I will make my best effort to remain unbiased and explore the points of view of those that believe we should not speak about different sexualities in school.
Part 2: Definitions for my topic are as follows:
Advocate – a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group.
Agender – a person with no (or very little) connection to the traditional system of gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutrois, gender neutral, or genderless.
Ally – a (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community.
Androgyny – a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity
Aromantic – experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior. Aromanticism exists on a continuum from people who experience no romantic attraction or have any desire for romantic activities, to those who experience low levels, or romantic attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels
Asexuality – experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual)
Bigender – a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders
biological sex – noun : a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”
Bisexuality – sexual attraction to both men and women
Cisgender – a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”
closeted – an individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. This may be by choice and/or for other reasons such as fear for one’s safety, peer or family rejection or disapproval and/or loss of housing, job, etc. Also known as being “in the closet.” When someone chooses to break this silence they “come out” of the closet. (See coming out)
Coming Out – 1. the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself). 2. The process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others (to “come out” to friends, etc.). This is a continual, life-long process. Everyday, all the time, one has to evaluate and re-evaluate who they are comfortable coming out to, if it is safe, and what the consequences might be.
demisexual – little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual, often within a romantic relationship.
Gay – 1. individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex and/or gender. More commonly used when referring to men who are attracted to other men, but can be applied to women as well. 2. An umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual. “Gay” is a word that’s had many different meanings throughout time. In the 12th century is meant “happy,” in the 17th century it was more commonly used to mean “immoral” (describing a loose and pleasure-seeking person), and by the 19th it meant a female prostitute (and a “gay man” was a guy who had sex with female prostitutes a lot). It wasn’t until the 20th century that it started to mean what it means today.
gender fluid – gender fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man some days, and more woman other days.
gender identity – the internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Common identity labels include man, woman, genderqueer, trans, and more. Often confused with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.
Heterosexuality – sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex (also referred to as straight)
Homosexuality – sexual attraction to people of one’s own sex (also referred to as gay).
Lesbian – women who are attracted to other women
Metrosexual – a man with a strong aesthetic sense who spends more time, energy, or money on his appearance and grooming than is considered gender normative.
outing – involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
Pansexuality – not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity
Phobia – the fear of something (homophobia – fear of homosexuals, biphobia – fear of bisexuals, etc.)
Questioning – when a person is unsure of their sexuality/gender
Sexual attraction – a capacity that evokes the want to engage in physical intimate behavior (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with romantic attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.
Sexual orientation – the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. Often confused with sexual preference.
Sexual preference – the types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in. Generally when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with “sexual orientation,” creating an illusion that one has a choice (or “preference”) in who they are attracted to.
Transgender – A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex.
Transexual – people who transition from one sex to another. A person born as a male can become recognizably female through the use of hormones and/or surgical procedures; and a person born as a female can become recognizably male.
Everyone who went to public school remembers the dreaded puberty and sexual education talk. Schools do a great job in teaching about straight sexual intercourse and pregnancy prevention, but what about LGBTQ youth (DeWitt par. 4)? Based on outlines of what teacher’s cover in sex education, anything LGBTQ related is not brought up. The focus is on heterosexual relations and sexually transmitted disease prevention (“Sex” par. 3).
However, in 2007, the state of California introduced a law that gave schools guidelines for how to include information about different sexualities in their curriculum. Bob Unruh disagrees with this law, arguing that most parents do not want their children exposed to such things and many will proceed to remove their children from school (Unruh par. 2). Karen England, one of the spokespeople for Capital Resource Institute, a company with the goal to educate and protect families, urged voters to vote against this law. While she does believe no child should be subject to discrimination, she also thinks “incorporating discussions of an instruction about controversial lifestyles in the classroom does not accomplish this goal. Instead, it undermines parental authority over children’s moral upbringing.” She, along with many others, believes that implementing a program that teaches about homosexuality and other sexualities is forcing values on the students (Unruh par. 8-16). Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families claims to have gotten hundreds of calls from concerned parents. In response to these calls, he is encouraging said parents to pull their children out of schools where this program is implemented (Unruh 35-36).
As for the students allowed to remain in school, studies have found that if they are encouraged to identify as LGBTQ and do so, their risk of suicide will rise (Remafedi et al par. 1). In fact, for each year children delay giving themselves an LGBTQ label, their risk of suicide and depression is reduced by twenty percent (Heyer par. 5). Research has also found that ninety-four percent of students who identify as transgender will grow out of their gender dysphoria (Drescher and Pula par. 1).
This is a topic of continued speculation. While some people believe it is against the freedom of the students and their parents to teach about LGBTQ issues, others believe it is within their freedom. All in all the question remains: is education a moral or fundamental experience?
DeWitt, Peter. “Should Sex Education Be Taught in Schools?” Education Week. 2017 Editorial Projects in Education, 04 June 2015. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.
Drescher, J., and J. Pula. “Ethical Issues Raised by the Treatment of Gender-variant Prepubescent Children.” The Hastings Center Report. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.
Heyer, Walt. “Public School LGBT Programs Don’t Just Trample Parental Rights. They Also Put Kids at Risk.” Public Discourse. The Witherspoon Institute, 8 June 2015. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.
Remafedi, G., J. A. Farrow, and R. W. Deisher. “Risk Factors for Attempted Suicide in Gay and Bisexual Youth.” Pediatrics (1991): n. pag. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.
“Sex Education and Puberty.” The National Autistic Society. The National Austistic Society, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2017.
Unruh, Bob. “Schools Should Not Address Homosexuality.” Homosexuality. Ed. Cynthia A. Bily. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Stripped Bare: ‘Gay’ School Plot Unveiled.” http://www.worldnetdaily.com. 11 Dec. 2007. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.
Everyone who went to public school remembers the dreaded puberty and sexual education talk. Schools do a great job in teaching about straight sexual intercourse and pregnancy prevention, but what about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth (DeWitt par. 4)? Based on outlines of what teacher’s cover in sex education, anything LGBTQ related is not brought up. The focus is on heterosexual relations and sexually transmitted disease prevention (Curtis par. 3). This focus can prove to be extremely detrimental to members of the LGBTQ community for numerous reasons.
The first reason this is destructive towards LGBTQ youth is because of the loneliness and depression it can provoke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth in grades 7th through 12th are approximately twice as likely to attempt or commit suicide than their heterosexual peers (“LGBT” par. 4). This is in response to not being taught about their sexuality and therefore, not getting the approval that it is okay. They don’t get the impression that their feelings are valid (Curtis par. 6).
Neglecting to teach about different sexualities in school is also harmful towards LGBTQ youth because doing so gives them the impression that they do not have to practice safe sex – no matter who they do it with. LGBTQ youth are rarely given the opportunity to learn about safe sex and they suffer the consequences (Curtis par. 6). According to research done by Doctor Guoyu Tao, bisexual women ages fifteen to forty-four are three times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease than others (Tao par. 1). Studies have also found that gay and bisexual men account for seventy-five percent of all syphilis cases in the United States (Ducre par. 5). The main reason sexually transmitted disease rates are so high in people that identify as LGBTQ is because they are not educated about sex when they are younger.
Omitting the sexuality talk from human growth and development units also affects people who do not identify as LGBTQ. By not talking about it or discussing it, young people get the notion that it is a bad thing and something that should not be talked about or accepted. This leads to tremendous violence against LGBTQ people, especially in school. According to the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a community-based agency serving lesbian and gay male adolescents in New York City, out of 500 surveyed youth, forty-one percent reported facing violence from their family and peers. Of the children who reported violence, forty-one percent of the girls and thirty-six percent of the boys reported attempting suicide as result of the violence (Hunter par. 1). The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network also released a report that stated fifty-five percent of LGBTQ youth felt unsafe at school and seventy-four percent were verbally abused at school (Kerr par. 4). Since students are not taught about different sexualities, they have a difficult time accepting them, with violence being the result.
There are several different arguments on whether or not we should teach about different sexualities in school. By thoroughly analyzing the pros and cons of doing so, our society should be able to come to a compromise.
Curtis, Tenesha. “Sex Education Programs Should Teach That Homosexuality Is Natural.”Opposing Viewpoints. Gale Cengage Learning, 2009. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.
Ducre, Kristena. “Out of the Closet, Into the Clinic: LGBT STD Statistics.” STD Exposed – Sexual Health Blog. N.p., 24 Oct. 2016. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
Hunter, Joyce. “Violence Against Lesbian and Gay Male Youths.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence. N.p., 1 Sept. 1990. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
Kerr, Michael. “Depression in the LGBT Population.” Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
“LGBT Youth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
Tao, Guoyu. “Sexual Orientation and Related Viral Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates Among US Women Aged 15 to 44 Years.” American Journal of Public Health. American Public Health Association, June 2008. Web. 09 Mar. 2017.
English 110 Hour 7
4 March 2017
This Paper is Gay
Most people who went to public school remember the dreaded puberty and sexual education talk. Public schools teach their students about straight sexual intercourse and pregnancy prevention, but what about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth (DeWitt)? Based on outlines of what teachers cover in sex education, anything LGBTQ related is not discussed. James Dawson, a former teacher and current author, surveyed a group of more than three hundred young people in 2012 and found that ninety-five percent of them said their school taught them nothing about LGBTQ sex. The focus is on heterosexual relations and sexually transmitted disease prevention (Curtis). This focus can prove to be extremely detrimental to members of the LGBTQ community because it provokes mental health issues, does not teach them how to have sexual intercourse safely, and raises the percentage of violence toward LGBTQ youth.
Before going into detail on the negative impact this has on LGBTQ youth, it is important to realize just how many people are affected by it. According to information from four national surveys and two state-level population-based surveys, there are approximately eight million adults, or four percent of the population, that identify as LGBTQ. However, these statistics do not include LGBTQ youth or some people that have not ‘come out’ yet. Some studies estimate that the number of LGBTQ people is actually around ten percent of the population and that’s only in the United States (Gates). In other countries, it is harder to tell just how many people identify as LGBTQ since, in many countries, it is widely immoral and even illegal to do so. However, it is estimated that at least ten percent of the total world population identifies as LGBTQ (Robison). The number of people affected by the following issues is a great deal and proves my point that something needs to be changed.
The first reason this is destructive towards LGBTQ youth is because of the loneliness and depression it can provoke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth in grades 7th through 12th are approximately twice as likely to attempt or commit suicide than their heterosexual peers (“LGBT”). This is in response to not being taught about their sexuality and, therefore, not getting the approval that it is okay. They don’t get the impression that their feelings are valid (Curtis).
Max DuBowy, a blog writer for The Huffington Post, shares his own personal story in his article, “The Truth About Gay Men and Depression.” Although he suffered from depression before realizing his sexuality, he explains how his realization only made his depression worse. “When I realized my attraction to men, the shame felt heavy. I thought, ‘f***, another reason to hate myself.’ The homophobia I felt toward myself was stronger than some of the most conservative, right-winged, gay-hating bigots we know. The shame was real, and it’s shadow followed me every day, wherever I turned” (DuBowy). Further in his article, he describes two reasons homosexuals are more prone to depression: they are ashamed to be gay and they are forced to solve their problems without much help from others. Why are they ashamed to be gay? He describes it as simple. “As young boys, we figured out we were different than everyone else. We enjoyed different hobbies than other boys, and we liked to talk about topics that most other boys wouldn’t be caught dead talking about. The shame increased when we were teased, bashed, and scrutinized by our peers, siblings, parents, and the media”. Those feelings of shame led to isolation, making it difficult for them to reach out for help (DuBowy).
Neglecting to teach about different sexualities in school is harmful towards LGBTQ youth because doing so gives them the impression that they do not have to practice safe sex – no matter who they do it with. LGBTQ youth are rarely given the opportunity to learn about safe sex and they suffer the consequences (Curtis). According to research done by Doctor Guoyu Tao, bisexual women ages fifteen to forty-four are three times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease than others. Studies have also found that gay and bisexual men account for seventy-five percent of all syphilis cases in the United States (Ducre). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is also extremely prominent in homosexuals. According to a survey conducted in New Zealand, nearly 80% of HIV diagnoses are among gay men. This is because these men are more likely to have anal sex, which is riskier than vaginal sex because of different cells and fluids. They are also more at risk because the community of people engaging in homosexual sex is smaller than those engaging in heterosexual sex, therefore, making the pool for disease smaller (“Three”). The main reason sexually transmitted disease rates are so high in people that identify as LGBTQ is because they are not educated about sex when they are younger and, therefore, do not know about their heightened risk for contracting a disease.
This problem is notable in other countries as well. Stephen, from Johannesburg, South Africa, says, “My school was deeply conservative, and the entire extent of our sex education was to shock us out of sexual behavior by showing us stacks of photographs of diseased genitalia…The existence of LGBT* people was ignored” (Dawson, 167). James, from London, United Kingdom, says, “My earliest sexual experiences were some of the most nightmare-inducing incidents I dread to think about. I was so unprepared. You think watching as much porn as your eyes can take will help – believe me, it won’t” (Dawson, 168). Because LGBTQ people do not receive the education they need to practice safe sex, they are forced to find it on their own, most of the time in unconventional and potentially dangerous places – like porn sites. In James Dawson’s book, This Book is Gay, he explains why watching pornography to become educated is an extremely dangerous thing to do. One of his reasons is porn stars are “expert sex-doers.” This can lead to LGBTQ people being put in potentially dangerous situations. He also describes how people in pornography rarely wear condoms, which is extremely dangerous, even in gay sex. Since homosexuals do not receive education on gay sex, they may think the use of condoms is only to prevent pregnancy, although it is also a preventative for STDs (Dawson, 169-170).
Omitting the sexuality talk from human growth and development units also affects people who do not identify as LGBTQ. By not talking about it or discussing it, young people get the notion that it is a bad thing and something that should not be talked about or accepted. This leads to tremendous bullying and violence against LGBTQ people, especially in school. According to the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a community-based agency serving lesbian and gay male adolescents in New York City, out of 500 surveyed youth, forty-one percent reported facing violence from their family and peers. Of the children who reported violence, forty-one percent of the girls and thirty-six percent of the boys reported attempting suicide as result of the violence (Hunter). The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network also released a report that stated fifty-five percent of LGBTQ youth felt unsafe at school and seventy-four percent were verbally abused at school (Kerr). Since students are not taught about different sexualities, they have a difficult time accepting them, with violence being the result.
Often people say that once you get out of high school and go to college, things will be different and more accepting. However, that is not always the case. Daniel Reynolds ‘came out’ in high school. He was pleasantly surprised when he received little to no backlash during his high school career. However, when he got to college, things took a turn for the worst. “In the first month, someone wrote ‘fag’ on my door. Invitations to lunches, parties, and other social gatherings, which were mostly orchestrated by an oppressive Greek culture, dried up. Even my roommate stopped speaking to me. He left after the first semester without giving notice or saying goodbye.” Reynolds worked to move past this roadblock and was able to live out a successful college experience, yet most of his hardships could have been avoided if his bullies had been taught how to accept people’s differences (“I Was Bullied”).
Some people, however, are against the notion of teaching children about homosexuality. Michele Bachmann, a former member of the House of Representatives, said, “Our children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it, and that’ll be very soon in our public schools all across the state, beginning in kindergarten (Badash).” This is said under the common misconception that homosexuality is a choice. If schools decide to start teaching about different sexualities in school, children won’t suddenly start experimenting with it. In addition, it is important to teach children that homosexuality is natural because it is at that age that most people question their sexuality. According to research, seventy-eight percent of people start questioning their sexuality between the ages of six and fifteen. Without the validity of their identity, they tend to not feel right in their mind (Dawson, 9). This opens the gates for people to bully their peers because of their sexualities, even if it’s not directly. Often, people use the word gay to describe something as lame or trash. This trend began in the 1990s, its usage stemming from homophobia (Dawson, 22). However, the fear of homosexuality has been a prominent occurrence in our history.
Focusing on historical trends, our society has progressed greatly over the last fifty-some years. Before the 1970s, homosexuality was listed as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1977, only forty-three percent of adults thought same-sex relationships should be legal, compared to sixty-six percent in 2013 (Russell and Fish). However, only twenty-four states are required to teach sex education in public schools and only one of those states, California, has implemented talk about homosexuality (“State” and Berry). Along with teaching about homosexual sexual education, Californian schools will also teach about LGBTQ history and family patterns (Berry).
Overall, it is outrageous that most of our schools do not teach children about different sexualities. Not only does it cause mental health problems in children, it is an act of discrimination toward anyone that considers themselves to be LGBTQ. This kind of discrimination leads to fright and anxiety. Recently, a fifth grade boy confided in me that he is questioning his sexuality. He told me he knew his mother wouldn’t be okay with it because of religious reasons and he didn’t know what his feelings met because they were not taught about it at school. As a society, we should work together to inform children on different sexualities so they do not feel excluded or wrong. It is our duty as leaders to educate the youth of our nation.
Badash, David. “Michele Bachmann’s Top Ten Anti-Gay Quotes.” New Civil Rights Movement, 2 June 2011, http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/michele-bachmanns-top-ten-anti-gay-quotes/politics/2011/06/02/21233.
Berry, Susan. “California: 1st State To Teach LGBT Curriculum — to Second Graders.” Breitbart, 19 July 2016, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/07/19/lgbt-history-california-first-to-teach/.
Curtis, Tenesha. “Sex Education Programs Should Teach That Homosexuality Is Natural.” Homosexuality, Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010143290/OVIC?u=special_ovrc&xid=98d0dbba. Originally published as “Should Education on Homosexuality Be Added to Sex Education in Schools?” http://www.helium.com, 2008
Dawson, James. This Book Is Gay. Naperville, IL, Jabberwocky, 2015.
DuBowy, Max. “The Truth About Gay Men and Depression.” The Huffington Post, 17 March 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-dubowy/the-truth-about-gay-men-a_b_9474496.html.
Ducre, Kristena. “Out of the Closet, Into the Clinic: LGBT STD Statistics.” STD Exposed – Sexual Health Blog, 24 October 2016, http://www.stdcheck.com/blog/lgbt-std-statistics/.
Gates, Gary J. “How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender?” The Williams Institute, April 2011, http://www.williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/how-many-people-are-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender/.
Hunter, Joyce. “Violence Against Lesbian and Gay Male Youths.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1 September 1990, http://www.journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/088626090005003004.
“I Was Bullied: 7 Survivor Stories on Spirit Day.” The Advocate, 15 October 2015, http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/10/15/i-was-bullied-7-survivor-stories-spirit-day.
Kerr, Michael. “Depression in the LGBT Population.” Healthline, http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/gay.
“LGBT Youth.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 November 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm.
Robison, Jennifer. “What Percentage of the Population is Gay?” Gallup, 8 October 2002, http://www.gallup.com/poll/6961/what-percentage-population-gay.aspx
Russell, Stephen T., and Jessica N. Fish. “Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth.” Annual review of clinical psychology, 12 (2016): 465–487. PMC, 28 March 2016, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4887282/.
“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools.” National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 December 2016, http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-policies-on-sex-education-in-schools.aspx.
Tao, Guoyu. “Sexual Orientation and Related Viral Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates Among US Women Aged 15 to 44 Years.” American Journal of Public Health, June 2008, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18445803.
“Three reasons gay guys are more likely to get HIV.” New Zealand AIDS Foundation, http://www.nzaf.org.nz/getting-tested/testing-month/hiv-risk-for-gay-men/.