Why do we only learn about being straight in sex ed?

It’s not all about putting condoms on cucumbers

birmingham bisexual consent education GAY heterosexual lesbian school sex ed students university university of birmingham

It first occurred to me in Sex Ed, aged 14.  A year or so earlier, I’d begun to register my sexuality, and the fact that I was the only lesbian in the classroom was obvious to me, even more so in sexual health lessons. When learning how to apply a condom to a cucumber, I knew full well that this new ‘life skill’ had no relevance to my sexual health whatsoever. It just reinforced my repulsion of the male genitalia and I’ve never been able to look at cucumber the same way since.

At the end of one one lesson, I went up to the teacher.  I should mention here that my school thought it was perfectly natural to teach sex ed alongside RE. The fact that they deemed the two as somehow interlinked still baffles me.

“What’s the age of consent for those that are gay, Sir?” I asked, out of curiosity.  I should also add here that this is the same teacher that refused to teach the female side of puberty due to “embarrassment” and referred to sex as “love cuddles.”

Selfie with alien territory

Selfie with alien territory

Mr Misogyny’s eyes pulsated.  Trying to disguise his evident disgust (although the redness of his cheeks was a bit of a giveaway) his response was matter-of-fact:

“I’m certain it’s a lot higher,’ his eyes avoiding mine.  “At least 21.”

At least get your facts right fire, Sir.  From this moment on, any inclination I might have has for even mentioning homosexuality in the curriculum vanished.

Now I know at university, the importance of protection is second nature to most. Maybe condoms and cucumbers encouraged this knowledge. But although most of us haven’t had ‘the talk’ since age 14, heteronormativity and consent remain big issues today. Even to us students.

Although I’m disappointed by the heteronormativity of sex ed in schools, I register a level of understanding with it too.  I’m not expecting detailed diagrams of two women having a good time, but nor do I see it right to ignore such matters entirely. This ignorance surely further widens a gap between the normal and the not so normal.

Yes, of course sex education being taught with a heterosexual, traditional focus is needed, to stress pregnancy risk at most. But consent (which was ignored entirely in my schooling) and sexual protection are equally as relevant in both heterosexual sex, and those of us who ‘choose’ (… as said RE teacher once stressed) to do the deed with people with a similar downstairs aesthetic.

I don’t expect any showings of visual lesbian ‘info’ in that department, because let’s be honest, I can find a bank of that online.  But even the majority of this is targeted at men and is maybe too explicit is nature.

Sexy and free

Sure, I needed to put a condom on a cucumber, with some schools stretching said ‘realism’ of varied sizes to that of bananas… but where are women, heterosexual or not, involved in this? Learning to use protection (other than the heterosexual, male-oriented) can apply to all types of relationships, and it is hugely important. I didn’t get taught the safe application of a dental dam to a mango, but why not?

Surely our age group needs that reminder of the importance of consent and safe sex (both saying ‘no’ and protection), particularly on nights out. I’m not saying us students need 9am lectures on condom application, but we should be reminded about safe sex as it’s more relevant to us now than it was when we were 14 and in a classroom.

Whether it be a campaign, with posters in clubs (‘No means no, straight or otherwise’?) or around campus, the right way to say no, and safe sex applying to all sexual orientations, is something that needs reiterating to us students.  We’re at uni to be educated, right?

Not only would this inclusion help to tackle the stigma of homosexuality being addressed in a professional environment, it would also reduce the sexualisation of the ‘unknown,’ in particular lesbian sex.  I’m positive those of the same sex making each other feel good is no unknown circumstance to the teens of today.  Judging those viewing porn online, I’m pretty certain it makes the receiver feel equally as good.  And I’m not just talking about the performers.