I've been through sex education at school like the majority of people I know, not that it was much of an 'education'. The whole situation felt more like an uncomfortable experience in a lift, where you desperately want to reach the 12th floor to get out. Our bodies were described anatomically as if it were an algebraic formula; this is what a penis looks like, this is where it goes, and the best form of contraception is abstinence. That's it, lesson complete, see you next week for a discussion on vegetarianism.
I recently watched the Channel 4 documentary that everyone's been talking about, Sex in Class. It experiments with a whole new-wave of sex education, discussing everything from contraception to pornography and sex toys. Cue the rampant laughter of 15-year-olds at the thought of vibrators and dildos. And why not? They do look quite strange. This is all great stuff though, young people should get to know their bodies. Why shouldn't they have a look at themselves in a mirror? For me, however, this is not very progressive - more of an annoying roadwork diversion on your way into the city centre.
I want you, if you can, just to try and re-think your concept of gender. Eliminate the thought process that a man has to have a penis and that a woman has a vagina. There are situations where this rationale cannot be applied and it is based upon cis-centric standards (a focus on cisgender people; individuals whose gender and sex are aligned). A man can have a vagina, like myself, so where is my sex education? Or am I not worthy of it because I self-define as queer? I was never taught that sex could be anything but heterosexual and penetrative, and this is a problem.
"We have to empower the girls to get to know the most important body part of being a woman, the vagina!" states Belgian sexologist Goedele Liekens on the show. I have many problems with this. One, is that not all women have vaginas- some women have penises. And what about intersex people out there?! Their genitalia may not fit either category. Gender identity relates to where you feel you are on the gender spectrum. 'Are you more masculine or are you more feminine?'. This is not something that should, in any way, be defined by genitalia. My second issue with her statement is that, surely, the most important body-part of a woman is the brain. Women are people, individuals with their own thoughts, aspirations, and neurological functions, not just walking vaginas. These types of attitudes, in my mind, really aren't helpful or progressive.
For a whole hour during the show the only slight hint at the discussion of LGBTI+ sex education was a Stonewall campaign poster neatly shoved at the back of a few camera shots. "Some People Are Gay, Get Over It", yet the topic of queer sex was never discussed. There was a sense of avoidance there. This avoidance of queer sex makes me and other LGBTI+ people feel isolated and that is not really an environment I want to find myself in. Am I not allowed any sexual pleasure or intimacy just because I define as a man and my body disagrees?
Newsflash: trans and queer people have sex, and it's fantastic. So why on earth aren't we talking more about it?
It happens, and there are is a whole new-wave of young queer people who aren't educated and it's dangerous. It is reported that 1 in 8 cisgender men who have sex with men have got HIV AIDS, so why isn't this discussed? Protection for queer sex needs to be talked about just as much as it's discussed for heterosexual people. I understand that perhaps it is a controversial subject, but I would rather talk about it than worry about upsetting a couple of parents. Our schools shouldn't be catering just to the majority. We should be inclusive to those who don't define as heterosexual or cisgender, not just brushing over the subject.
I'd like to see a change in sex education, the sooner the better. Sex education needs to provide a more intimate and truthful depiction of sex for LGBTI+ people. The dangers of sex of course, need to be addressed but we also need to turn our heads to the enjoyment of sex and consent. At the moment, there is a lack of understanding and it is dangerous.