May Is Sex Ed For All Month—Here’s Why That’s So Important
May marks the start of Sex Ed For All Month, a month dedicated to providing young people with the education and resources they need to make smart, informed decisions about their sexual health. Turns out, the sex ed you might have blushed your way through in high school, probably wasn’t all that comprehensive—and it most definitely wasn’t inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community.
Learn more about Sex Ed For All Month, why it’s important, and how you can get involved.
What is Sex Ed For All Month?
Let’s start off with a fun fact: Sex Ed For All Month actually used to be Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, but they rebranded a few years ago. Why? The powers that be realized that framing an awareness month around preventing teen pregnancy was limiting, since it operates under the assumption that the organizers know what’s best for teens and their sexual health. Plus, framing a month as “prevention” risked shaming teens who have been pregnant. *Insert “The More You Know” rainbow gif*
Today, Sex Ed For All Month calls in national sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations to work towards one common goal: “a world where all young people — no matter where they live, or how they identify — receive the high-quality, evidence-based sex education they deserve.”
Why is Sex Ed For All Month important?
We’ve covered this in a previous blog post about why the lack of sex ed in the U.S. is a major problem, but we’ll hit the highlights here. The current state of sex education in the U.S. is… pretty abysmal. Sex education curricula are determined by state and local legislators, meaning what topics are (and aren’t) included is hugely influenced by regional culture. Put it this way: a teen in a Bible Belt state is probably going to get a very different kind of education than a Brooklyn, New York teenager.
And currently, the United States doesn’t have much to brag about when it comes to teen pregnancy and STD rates. The U.S. has higher rates of teen pregnancies than most other industrialized nations, and people ages 15-24 accounted for nearly half of all new STDs reported in 2013.
The importance of inclusive sex ed
Did you know that sex education can completely exclude any inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community? That’s right—according to Planned Parenthood, only nine states currently require discussion of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships to be inclusive and affirming. Even more troubling, seven states (all located in the South) either prohibit sex educators from discussing LGBTQ+ identities and relationships, or they require sex educators to frame LGBTQ+ identities and relationships negatively.
These laws are probably one of the main reasons that teens who identify as LGBTQ+ can be at higher risk of contracting STDs; after all, they’re likely without the information they need to make informed sexual health decisions. Plus, these archaic perspectives isolate LGBTQ+ teens and stigmatize the queer community. It’s an exclusive, outdated, and uninformed approach to sexual education that needs to stop.
How to support Sex Ed For All Month
Support the mission of Sex Ed For All Month with these resources or actions:
- Call your local representative to advocate for high-quality, comprehensive sex ed in your area.
- Share reliable, inclusive sex ed materials (like ones from Planned Parenthood or SimpleHealth) with a young adult you’re close to.
- Support an organization like Advocates for Youth or PFLAG that promote sex ed materials that emphasize self-esteem, critical thinking, and decision-making for all identities.
The current state of sex education is not even close to the standard we need to hold ourselves (and our legislators) accountable too. Sex Ed For All Month is a chance to improve this. For more sex education, check out The Simple Source, our educational platform that’s designed to help fill in these knowledge gaps.
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