By Elizabeth Henk
Because no one else seems able to accept it in the classroom, there is something I need to get off my chest, right here, right now. So here, because all you health teachers are so incompetent, Iâ€™m going to do your job for you: Gay exists.
Shocking, I know. I suppose you teachers are often too busy to consider gay people, as you go on about the dangers of putting male parts near female parts. We donâ€™t fit into the rules you preach, after all.
There were other glaring issues with my sexual education classes aside from this avoidist attitude. I remember clearly that in eighth grade, our health textbook was nothing but a flimsy, paperback compendium of fictional shock stories, essays and trite little activities aimed towards enforcing the idea that no matter what anyone said or how we felt inside, sexual things were bad and would ruin our lives forever.
As far as I, as a questioning female, could tell, if there arenâ€™t male and female bits involved it isnâ€™t sex, so...as it follows, homosexuality is perfectly OK.
What they meant is â€śall sex is bad at this age,â€ť but it didnâ€™t occur to them to include alternate sexualities. Perhaps thatâ€™s because our sex being wrong is simply a given, perhaps itâ€™s because they didnâ€™t want to bring up gay sex to eighth graders even when they were on the topic anyway, but either way, their intended message didnâ€™t match the written message, which was â€śstraight sex is bad until marriage.â€ť
Homosexuals had fallen through the holes, had slipped entirely off their radar without trying. Honestly, it felt like even if Iâ€™d been standing in plain sight waving my arms around like a maniac, I still would have been invisible, just an obnoxious little mosquito in their peripheral vision that they didnâ€™t bother to see, at least in this context.
In high school, the message did, refreshingly, change. Although it was discouraged, teachers focused on teaching us how to have safe sex, instead of telling us never to do it. However, they never stopped disregarding the possibility of homosexual sex.
The topic was only briefly acknowledged during my sophomore year health course, but only as a byproduct of the statement that anal and oral intercourse is considered sex, a topic that took a very heterosexual spin during discussion. I do understand that discussion of homosexuality would make some students in the classroom uncomfortable, but itâ€™s not like there arenâ€™t plenty of students already unnerved by the idea of putting someoneâ€™s private bits near their mouths, so at some point thereâ€™s really no excuse for trying to appease their sensitivity anymore.
Perhaps most students in my class were probably heterosexual, and I grudgingly acknowledge that the idea was to give them a proper education so that they could be safe.
But I wasnâ€™t, and I didnâ€™t learn a single thing I could use.
Everything Iâ€™ve learned about lesbian sex, Iâ€™ve had to research on my own, browsing medical sites to check if STDs were a large concern or what kind of protection is available to us. During sex units, health class was to me a daily waste of a perfectly good fifty minutes. Nothing I took notes or tested on applied to my life at all.
Perhaps learning about lesbians, for anyone who isnâ€™t a lesbian, may seem like a non sequitur. Why should they be forced to learn something theyâ€™d never use? But going through what would probably become less than half a chapter of what I feel throughout the entire sex unit is a fair trade, I think, for the potential of teaching a homosexual student something he or she needs know about certain risks, or ways to counter those risks. It isnâ€™t common at my age, I think, to take the time and consideration to Google the risks of certain activities beforehand, so instead of letting many students learn the hard way, health curriculums everywhere need to realize that they donâ€™t only share in the responsibilityâ€”they are in many ways the root of the problem.