Disclaimer: discussions of sexual topics.
This has been an article I’ve wanted to write for a while, but I never knew how to get started or what I should even say. Now that I’ve really put a lot of thought into it, I think I have a pretty well-rounded idea of why my public school upbringing bothered me so much: queer history and education was completely left out of the curriculum.
By the time I was thirteen years old, I knew I had strong feelings for other girls. That being said, I wasn’t comfortable with this realization about myself, and I certainly tried to ignore that this part of me even existed. In fact, I didn’t even begin to really think critically about my sexuality until I reached my first year of college, and I think the way my public school system handled LGBT+ issues contributed to that substantially. So let’s take a trip down memory lane together and discuss how society pushes a heteronormative agenda onto the developing minds of young people!
When I was in middle school and even high school, I don’t remember any LGBT+ characters, stories, literature, and media being brought up in my classes. I don’t think a single homosexual reference showed up throughout my entire curriculum, and I never questioned it when I was growing up. Additionally, when I took my mandatory health class in 8th grade, homosexual health education was never mentioned as well. I never learned about how gay people have sex, or how we queer people also have to protect ourselves from STDs, just like any other human being. In a simple sense, we were erased, and made to feel like our sexualities weren’t valid. Even worse, I felt like just my existence as a gay person in a classroom was inherently inappropriate due to the lack of LGBT+ acceptance and exposure. Because my community wasn’t being brought up, I very quickly got the message that my school (and many other schools) do not see this “lifestyle” as a valid depiction of human experiences. It taught me that I should be ashamed of where I come from and what I believe in.
Dear public high school, including the existence of gay people in a classroom discussion does not mean you are forcing a gay agenda on anyone. Acknowledging all types of sexual wellness does not mean you are “turning students gay.” If you’re a student or a teacher and you really have a problem with the fact that girls date other girls, I think it’s time for you to take several seats and realize that it’s not 1832 anymore. Accepting my gayness does not threaten your fragile heterosexuality in any way. And lastly, if you do have a problem with it, why don’t you just be quiet? Yes, you’re entitled to feel and think however you wish, but I’m also entitled to a fair, informative, well-rounded education.
In the future, I’d like to see some sort of change or development in health class culture. If you’re currently in high school and you’re going through a similar problem or feeling of suppression, my advice to you is this: Don’t be afraid to speak out. Unless you actively use your voice or bring up to your school the problems you are noticing, things are unlikely (and probably impossible) to change. It can be scary to stand up for what you think is right, but regardless of the outcome, it’s always worth it to try.