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“How can I ask my school to include LGBTQ health and sex education in classes?”

Question Submitted by Anonymous

Dana Says:

Hey! So I love love love that you want to get LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed in your school because a lot of the time, this doesn’t really cross the minds of our educators—or even us as LGBTQ people! I know that as an 8th grader in an introductory health class, I had absolutely no idea what a “dental dam” was and I probably wouldn’t have known about it in my 10th grade health class either if I hadn’t already searched it up. In any case, LGBTQ individuals deserve inclusive sex ed, so damn it, we’ve gotta try our best to get it.

Before you ask your school to get an LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed curriculum, you need to have all your arguments, evidence, etc in order, so I’ve compiled a badass list (if I do say so myself) to help you do so!

Evaluate the current state of your health curriculum
Odds are that if your school is enforcing abstinence-only education, they’re probably not going to be so keen on considering LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed. You can do this by simply asking health students what they have learned, or referring to your old health notes if you have already taken the class. If your school is able to educate students about the ol’ penis-in-vagina method, then they should be able to teach them about other forms of sex as well.

Check up on your state’s standard health education curriculum
Go online to your state’s department of education website to find out whether your school is actually following the state guidelines. This has the potential to contribute a lot to your argument for LGBTQ-inclusive health classes; if the state says LGBTQ-inclusivity is the standard health curriculum, then why isn’t your school’s health curriculum up to par? If you find that your school is indeed failing to follow the guidelines, you should TOTALLY take that information to your state’s Board of Education.

Gather some queer-er data!
A great way to see what your health curriculum specifically needs is by asking your queer peers what they want to learn. Maybe they want to learn about anal sex, or oral sex, or the different ways you can protect yourself from STI’s when in a same-sex relationship, because oftentimes a lot of us queers have no clue how to go about understanding all of that. So ask away!

Gather your troops
By this, I mean gather a few of your friends who are just as passionate about the cause so you can set up a meeting with your health teachers and/or the administration to talk about it. If you know any supportive parents or faculty who will join you in setting this meeting up, that will definitely add much-needed fuel to the fire!

Start a petition, get attention!
If the administration refuses to meet with you, start a petition among your student body, and perhaps even reach out to the local news outlets. Go nuts!

Ask LGBTQ health-related questions
If you’re asking questions that require answers, your teacher(s) will be forced to come up with an answer (or find that they lack one entirely). More often than not, health teachers don’t have enough knowledge on safe sex to provide students with accurate answers. In the asking, you’ll either be getting more information for all of your peers, or alerting your teacher to the fact that they need to learn more about LGBTQ issues!

Take matters into your own hands
You can’t teach in your school because you probably don’t have any kind of teaching degree, but you can reconvene with your troops and study up on as much you can find about LGBTQ sexual health. If the teachers aren’t going to teach, then you are going to have to spread the word about safe, sane, and consensual queer sex (say that five times fast!) as best as you can. Laci Green on YouTube, Autostraddle, Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon, Scarleteen, and even your state’s LGBTQ research center (if you have one) are all great resources to get you started btw! Rather than proclaiming “the prostate gland is often found in AMAB (assigned male at birth) individuals and can be a major pleasure center if stimulated!” down a crowded hallway, educate on smaller levels, like at a GSA meeting. A lot of the kids who want/need LGBTQ-inclusive health education are probably already in the school GSA.

When playing GSM (Gender/Sexual Minority) Jeopardy with my school GSA, I slip in a lot of random LGBTQ health facts so they learn something in a fun and lighthearted environment. For example, one of the questions was “What is a dental dam (or what I like to call, a dental “damn” ;D), and how is it used?” Because none of them knew, I ended up explaining what it was and its purpose, which definitely opened up their eyes to the world of STIs and sexual safety. Smaller-scale things like this definitely make a big difference if your school is consistently refusing to incorporate LGBTQ-inclusive sex education.

Last but not least, be patient yet still persistent
A lot of school officials aren’t as ready and willing as you are to get an LGBTQ-inclusive health curriculum for a multitude of reasons. The administration may be afraid of angry parents demanding why their teenager came home wanting to know more about safe anilingus, or the administration could be controlled by the state government, making it even more difficult to alter the curriculum, or perhaps they’re just not supportive of anything LGBTQ-related. The bottom line is, stay patient and stay persistent.

If all else fails, civil disobedience in the form of a sit-in at your school could definitely raise some eyebrows (and probably some blood pressures). That’s just my personal endgame, though, haha. Anyway, best of luck!

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“I want to have sex with my girlfriend but I want to know the cautions and what to do in order to be safe. I’m female.”

- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Dr. Justine Shuey as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

Dr. Shuey Says:

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) do not discriminate, so it is important to protect yourself and your partner(s). There are ways to get STIs without ever having sex (through birth, skin-to-skin contact, sharing IV drugs / needles / injection equipment, etc) so it doesn’t matter if your partner is a virgin, or if you are – you always need to protect yourself and your partner(s). STIs can be transmitted sexually in a variety of ways via bodily fluids, which include blood, semen, vaginal secretions, anal secretions, breast milk or even skin-to-skin contact.

Using Latex (or non-latex) dental dams during oral sex prevents the transmission of bodily fluid and some skin-to-skin contact. Some even come in yummy flavors to make oral sex taste sweeter. If you can’t find dental dams you can make them using regular latex/non-latex male condoms or gloves. You can find easy to follow instructions for this online.

If using sex toys, you should know what material the toy is made of, if it can be completely sterilized, and if it is safe for sharing (when cleaned appropriately). You might also consider covering sex toys with condoms to prevent the spread of infections and for easier clean up.

You should also considering using gloves/finger cots for vaginal and anal play. It will make things smoother and will help lubricants last longer.

Individuals with penises can use male condoms during oral, anal or vaginal sex. There are even flavored condoms made specifically for oral sex (which could be cut and used as dental dams).

There are also “Female Condoms” & “FC2” condoms which are insertable condoms and can be used during vaginal sex or used during receptive anal sex by removing the inner ring. These are made of non-latex materials and can also be cut and used as dental dams.

There are a variety of lubricants available: A good water-based lubricant is best, though you can use flavored lubricants externally during oral sex on the outside of condoms/dental dams. Silicone lubricant is another option but be cautious as silicone lubricant will break down silicone sex toys.

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"A friend just found out she probably has herpes. What can I do to help her?"

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

I think listening to her concerns and fears is a great place to start. Chances are there isn’t anything specific you can do, but you CAN be a good friend (and sometimes that’s enough).

I imagine your friend is feeling a whirlwind of emotions right now, ALL OF WHICH she probably just wants you to hear. When she tells you she is scared, she feels embarrassed and stupid, let her know she has every right to be feeling those things and you would feel the exact same way. Remind her that she is not stupid and you will do whatever it takes to make her feel at least a little better.

According to THIS ARTICLE, one in six humans has herpes. Also according to that article the ONLY WAY to not get the herp is to be a straight woman and to make YO MAN wear a condom… so.. -______- If I were in your shoes, I’d want to lighten the mood a little. So… you could always make a list of her favorite celebrities and be like ‘point to one’ and when she does just scream ‘HERPES.’

This is a big deal, it is something she’ll have to be conscious of forever and it is a thing she’ll have to talk about in future relationships. HOWEVER, it is also very common, there is totally a prescription you can get, and it DOES NOT have to dictate the rest of her life.

Kristin Says:

The thing with herpes is that it has this HUGE stigma attached to it… but in reality, like Dannielle said, it is a very VERY common thing and it is completely manageable. The reasons that your friend might be bummed out is because a) it’s confusing and she might not completely understand what it even means, b) she is aware of that stigma and keeps imaging herself having to tell people that she has herpes, and/or c) she feels like she made a dumb decision and she feels like a fool.

So, I think your path of being a friend can just help lift her up in those areas AND I agree with Dannielle AGAIN, I think you can make it a conversation that also includes some lightness. You can honestly be like, “Okay listen, I know this is upsetting you and I am your friend, and that is why I put a call into the mayor to name today FRHERPDAY2013.” She’ll be all, “Fruh-what Day?” and then you can be like, “IT STANDS FOR FRIENDS’ HERPES DAY 2013. IT IS WHEN YOU AND I TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT IS BUGGING YOU AND WE FIGURE IT OUT AND THEN YOU FEEL BETTER AND THEN WE GET FRHERP ICE CREAM. GOD WHY DON’T YOU KNOW ANYTHING.”

Then, on frherp day, you talk to her about how much she knows. You google things with her and do some research and help alleviate those fears. You talk about the fact that you understand why she feels anxious about having to tell other people, and underline the fact that this is a common occurrence and that anyone worth their salt will not judge her – especially if she is informed and able to explain it clearly. You tell her over and over again that she isn’t an idiot or a fool or stupid or anything – she’s just a person and this is a thing that is manageable and handle-able and that the mayor told you that, moving forward, any day could be frherp day and you are ALWAYS there to talk to her.

Also featured in “The Hook-Up” on MTVAct and MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life

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"My boyfriend doesn’t want to use a condom, any advice?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Don’t have sex with him.

Kristin Says:

Agree. No Condom = No Sex, you guys.

Here are some ways in which to not have sex with him:

-Say, “well, hopefully you have a really good imagination so that you can pretend we are having a really great sex when you are home alone in your bed tonight… “

-Loudly pronounce, “NO I AM NOT READY TO HAVE YOUR CHILDREN” the next time you are in public together. This will work regardless of your gender.

-Explain that you have some important thoughts regarding his recent decision to not care about his own body or yours, and then play “Your Body Is A Wonderland” on maximum volume.

Also featured in “The Hook-Up” on MTVAct and MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life

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"I have herpes and I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone. How can I ever date again?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Well, one, it’s okay to take a dating break until you’re a little more comfortable talking about that kind of thing. Two, if you’re into online dating there are totally websites that are specific to people who are experiencing the exact thing you are experiencing right now. Three, shit happens.

Now, I say shit happens not to discount the severity of this situation BUT TO LET YOU KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE DEALING WITH STIS AND THAT DOESNT MAKE THEM GROSS OR STUPID OR WEIRD OR DUMB. I’ve known countless people who have slept with someone only to later find out that human gave them an STI and didn’t say anything and now won’t return their calls. OR didn’t even know they had an STI bc they hadn’t been tested. We all know people who have been in that situation and the fact of the matter is, that’s just life sometimes. What we have to do is move forward.

Don’t sit in your room and think about how no one will ever love you bc that’s just not true. Go to your doctor, get checked out, grab some meds and practice honesty. If you meet someone you really like but you’re not comfy talking about your downstairs and things start getting hot and heavy you can stop and say ‘hey, i really like you but i’m not totally comfortable with going very far right now, can we take it slow?’ Any decent human being will be like ‘yea totally’ and then once you two know each other a little better you can be like ‘i really wanna get frisky but we have to be safe, i’ve made a mistake in the past and i don’t want to screw this up’ THEN the two of you will talk about what it is happened and they will be very understanding, maybe nervous, maybe confused, maybe upset, but you will have been honest with them and that’s the best thing you can possibly do.

Kristin Says:

Yes. What Dannielle said.

First: You have every right to feel embarrassed, upset, and confused about having herpes – because in general, those are the ways in which the world makes us feel when we contract an STI.

Second: Try to understand those shameful feelings as a product of your surroundings, and not as a true reflection of yourself. You are not gross. You are not dirty. You are not untouchable. You are a human being with a body, and you are fully capable of practicing safe and TOTALLY AWESOME sex with that body (just like everyone else, herpes or no herpes).

Third: You do not have to tell people about your STI on the very first date. I am repeating Dannielle here, but I think it is important to note that you can get to know someone before opening up to them about sex and your body… you likely wouldn’t be talking about sex on the first date otherwise, and you shouldn’t have to do so now.

Fourth: When you get to a place where you want to be intimate with a person, that is when the dialogue needs to happen. Remember that most people are scared or wary of things because they don’t understand them – so if you come to the conversation with information and are able to explain how you can have safe and enjoyable sexitime, you are likely going to find that you have a willing partner.

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