LGBT teens need a voice in sexual education

By Mary Ma

When Cartoon Network aired Korra’s lesbian relationship with Asami in The Legend of Korra, parents lashed out at the channel, claiming it was “inappropriate” for children. The only scene to air was a kiss, much like the one Cinderella shares with Prince Charming in the G-rated movie, Cinderella. These same objections runs through many educators’ minds as they create health curriculums. We all remember the diagrams of ovaries and fallopian tubes, the grainy videos of abstinent straight couples, but most of us don’t remember a system that doesn’t assume heterosexuality, questions the gender binary and addresses LGBTQ+ relationships. Most of us don’t know a curriculum that is truly inclusive. In this rapidly changing world, sex education is stuck in the past.

It’s reasonable to assume that middle school and high school health are perfect places to introduce LGBTQ+ relationships and identities. But these issues aren’t a part of the system for a reason. There are seven states that have no promo homo laws, laws preventing the promotion of homosexuality in health education. Many of these state laws require teachers to portray the LGBTQ+ community in a negative light, to prevent kids from “becoming gay.”

Educators need to realize that being queer is not contagious. The superstition of LGBTQ+ people being “infected” is very present in our society, especially in media. By this logic there shouldn’t be a LGBTQ+ community at all. Despite being force-fed pop culture portraying only straight, cisgender characters all their childhood, gay kids are still gay, trans kids are still trans. This misconception and lack of representation only serves to tell these kids that what they are feeling is wrong.

For many students struggling with gender and sexual identity, school is an everyday battlefield.

So, what happens to these kids? For many students struggling with gender and sexual identity, school is an everyday battlefield. The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that lesbian, gay, or bisexual U.S. teens were bullied on school property three times more often than their straight peers. LGBTQ+ students face this vicious social situation alongside confusion about identity, relationships and other topics for which straight kids have an arsenal of resources. Fighting both institutional and social rejection, it’s no wonder that LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide.

Media and society are already unfriendly to the queer community. Lack of inclusion in health education is salt on the wound. As a confused teen, I remember how alienated I felt in middle school, where not even the school curriculum that constantly preached about diversity acknowledged my existence. I remember how afraid I was of my classmates knowing, of my teachers knowing. Schools need to teach every teen about remaining safe and healthy. Stop the silent suffering of queer teens.

Inhale Exhale

By Claire Gelillo

Every day’s a new day

New horizon but the same fate

We the people

But we the weak

We the ones who can’t take the heat

We the ones who stand for the machine over the man

The man over the woman

The abuse with gun in hand

Face over body after body

After body

Aftermath

After the fact that we’re struggling just to stay intact

Then we take flight

We breathe and let it go

But we know

The bright light

Is just a reminder of all we failed

It’s the end of a tunnel that we can’t seem to escape

But the bones crack and break

Under pressure

We rise and we fall

The last breath in the high school hall

We inhale with no exhale

We feel the heat

We stand shoulder to shoulder

But what solution do we meet

We write the letters and cry the chants

But we fall at their feet

We beg for a chance we never had

And maybe we’re glad

Because what excuse do we have

We drank the last drop of hope

Last time we heard of mass destruction

Mass killing

Mass eruptions

Of the things we can’t control

And they call us bold

For saying that something’s wrong

But then hang up the phone

They put us down lock us up

Chain them up

Hands up

Until not a hand remains raised

And we boil with rage

Nobody left to stir the pot

But the cries remain

Ringing out into the night

Not a second to waste

But we breathe

Inhale Exhale

Another body on the ground