As part of the Cardiff Pride: More Than a Month campaign, we interviewed young people attending Pride Cymru 2022. In this blog, we share their responses to the question ‘did you have any LGBTQ+ sex education in school?’.
No mention of LGBTQ+ sex education
Many young people we spoke to shared that overall, the sex education they received was poor. For most, there was no mention of LGBTQ+ people in their sex education. Sex education was targeted toward straight identities and their largely generic experiences of sex. This left young people feeling like they were left in the dark.
Nova, 19 – None what-so-ever. Full stop. It was ‘if you’re straight, here’s the sex ed’. Otherwise, figure it out yourself, I guess.
Ron, 22 – When I was in school, there was nothing.
Tezni, 23 – No is the easy answer to that. I had nothing. I mean my sex ed in school was pretty basic anyway, but I think even less in terms of LGBT stuff. To be honest with you, even across the board across subjects, there wasn’t sort of any LGBTQ+ representation which is disappointing to see. When you’re a child you don’t perhaps think about it, but as a young adult looking back on my education, it’s really disappointing to see that.
Avery, 19 – It really does suck that there’s no sex ed for queer couples, even if it’s just basics.
Darcey, 23 – No, none at all.
Chloe, 21 – Um, no, I can’t say that there was. There was absolutely nothing inclusive. It was let’s put this condom on this big blue fake penis and that was about it, so no. There absolutely should be. 100%. Even if it’s just down to using basic inclusive terms and making sure that people know that same-sex relationships exist and that they’re okay.
Mollie, 23 – No there wasn’t. And I was actually like bullied quite a lot at school because I was the only gay… by staff and pupils. And they were very anti getting any LGBT sex ed at all.
Tess, 22 – Any sex education was really bad, but like there was nothing about relationships. They never even said the word queer or LGBT ever so it was terrible really.
LGBTQ+ sex education is not inclusive or relatable
When there was mention of LGBTQ+ sex education, it was deemed very poor as it wasn’t inclusive or relatable. One young person explained how the sex education they received made them feel uncomfortable. Some young people continued to share that they had to educate themselves with their friends, or campaign for better education, as they weren’t provided with any sex education which was relevant to them.
Echo, 20 – Most of my friends at secondary school were queer so we ended up all sitting at the same table in the sex ed class and just stubbornly refusing to do it because it had nothing to do with us. ‘Cause I mean I’m ace. I went to a single-sex school so most of my friends were lesbians so we just were like ‘yeah, cool, enjoy your cucumber’. What the hell does that have to do with us?!
Abi, 22 – We did have it but it was more aimed at like gay men because of the STD’s and drugs and stuff so there wasn’t much about lesbians. But we did have it at least. We knew it was there.
Wren, 16 – I don’t think we had any sex education on it but we had like one lesson. They told us like about the acronym or something.
Lizzie, 22 – It sucked real hard. It’s basically like here is a list of countries where you can’t be gay. Good luck. And that was it.
Lily, 16 – One of our friends back a couple of years ago campaigned to our head teacher and wrote constant letters to get some LGBT+ education so we did have an hour-long lesson on it. And it wasn’t even accurate! Back in my old school, I was part of an LGBTQ+ group to try and get more education, so I think next year those people will get better education even though we’ve just left.
Echo, 20 – I mean the really annoying thing is that when I was in Sixth Form, we actually got taught about dental dams and how to use dental dams which is one of the best contraceptives to use for lesbian couples. We specifically got taught about it from a straight perspective. I went to a single-sex sixth form so it was like ‘ladies, if your boyfriend wants to do something a bit more interesting, there’s a dental dam’. And I was like or… like yeah cool… go ahead… but lesbians are also valid. It just really annoyed me.
Carenza, 20 – It’s only just mainly heterosexuals, some homosexuals sometimes, there’s so much more you could be learning in sex education.
Matthew, 23 – I learnt a little bit about it in school but also I feel like if I had too much sex ed I would have been tipped into denial panic, for lack of a better description. You know, I was struggling to deal with my sexuality back in those days, a long time ago.
Sarah, 30 – They gave us condoms! What am I gonna do with condoms? I’m a lesbian!
Suggestions for improving sex education
On reflection about the LGBTQ+ little sex education that was received, some young people had suggestions about what could be improved going forward.
Chris, 18 – Another important note about sex education is to never ever separate anyone into groups. Also, spend more time on how the female body works. Because there are still men and even women who don’t even know for instance where the clitoris is, you know. Just be comfortable with your body and learn that not everybody is the same. People are different. That not everyone looks the same. And that we all value different things. And also to stress the importance of communication with each other and acceptance of each other. And that everybody is unique.
Tess, 22 – [It would be good to have] even just like relationships – safe relationships. I feel with LGBT people there’s a lot of shame with it; people don’t talk about issues in relationships, so more healthy relationship standards would be great.
Lizzie, 22 – [I’d like to see] a lot of gender stuff. That is never ever taught. They teach a bit about if you’re gay this is something… but gender inclusivity is not included at all. I think a lot of queer stuff in general like safe queer sex – that is never included at all unless it’s like ‘wear a condom’ but that’s not great for everyone so it’s not inclusive at all.
Maddie, 16 – I’d like to see just the normality of it and make it known to young people to express themselves and stuff.
Toby, 15 – I think it would do good to educate people on it especially at an earlier age so they just understand that it’s okay and there’s nothing wrong with it, which is what breeds a lot of acceptance. I think it would be important to have the option to learn more even if it’s not like a mandatory thing because I reckon that’s going to take a couple of years. Just having the option to educate yourself, especially around the things that aren’t so known, for example, things like asexuality and demisexuality, or even just going unlabelled.
Check out TheSprout’s LGBTQ+ information page where you can find loads of useful info on local and national LGBTQ+ support services.
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