Now it is no secret that education in schools in general around sex is severely lacking (doubly so if you went to a religious school as I did). There seems to be the misconception around educators that sex is a taboo subject that is too awkward to discuss in detail with students. This causes young people to seek other sources for education on sex and relationships, this usually leads them to pornography websites that deliver unrealistic standards and expectations when it comes to sexual performance, body image, consent and sexual health. As well as this a large majority of schools will focus any sex and relationship education around heteronormative topics and neglect to educate on LGBTQ+ relationships which are becoming more prominent in society every day.
Porn is not a good teacher
Without sufficient education on sex and relationships, young people are bound to grow up confused regardless of their sexuality, and in a time where the internet is becoming easier and easier to access it is becoming more and more imperative that young people are correctly educated on sex, sexuality and relationships and that they know that what is being depicted in porn is not an accurate representation (maybe in some cases it is) of what actually goes on. I am in no way saying that people shouldn’t watch porn and that it should be banned, what I am saying is that it should not be used as a source of education but more as a way to explore sexuality (what you like and don’t like) once you understand what it is.
‘The perfect body’
Another issue with overexposure to pornography at a young age is the body dysmorphia that usually comes along with it. A large majority of pornstars will be presented as having the ‘perfect body’ (just to be clear there is no such thing as the perfect body) and exposure to this at a time when you are trying to understand yourself and your sexuality can be very damaging to anyone but especially young people who do not know any better. However, if they were correctly educated in school then their reliance on porn would be greatly reduced and its damaging effects mitigated.
Heteronormative education belongs in the past
A large portion of schools still do not include, or at most skim over LGBTQ+ sexuality and relationships. The main argument used against the integration of LGBTQ+ topics into the curriculum is that ‘it will confuse straight children’, and yet when the same argument is used saying that ‘LGBTQ+ children are confused and aren’t seeing topics that apply to them’, those same people do not seem to care. Done properly, sex and relationship education can inform and provide support for all young people without confusing them about their own sexuality. By providing adequate and balanced information about all sexual orientations and treating them as equals will also help to eradicate the negative stigma of LGBTQ+ people which is still very prominent in schools.
Education on dating
Hook-up culture is a prominent part of many LGBTQ+ relationships and it stems from improper education on what a healthy non-heterosexual relationship looks like. With better education on how to successfully form a healthy relationship, the mental health issues that are associated with hook-up culture will be reduced in both prominence and severity. Hook-up culture continues to be perpetuated in the LGBTQ+ community because those joining the community rarely know any better as they have had no education on the matter. The cycle will not end until sufficient education is given to every single person LGBTQ+ or not. Whilst hook-up culture is a personal choice, it can be detrimental to some younger LGBTQ+ individuals entering the community for the first time.
As well as the mental health issues associated with improper education LGBTQ+ people are still disproportionally affected by hate crimes, such as rape and physical assault (especially people from the transgender community). Due to the fact that it is human nature to attack or alienise that which we do not understand. It is a no brainer that education is paramount in reducing the number of hate crimes and level of abuse towards the LGBTQ+ community.
I believe the children are our future
Throughout history, change has been predominantly brought about by positive education; educating the patriarchy that all genders are equal, educating racists that all races are equal and now it is time to educate everyone that everyone is equal regardless of sexuality, race, creed, gender identity etc. People are most susceptible to learning and developing new cognitive processes at a young age meaning that if we want a more educated world then we have to start at the bottom and work our way up. Many people in the LGBTQ+ community have probably had the experience of trying to explain modern relationships to people of older generations with little or no success, explaining it to young people is far easier and far more effective and needs to be prioritised in our education system.