Today I read this article by Louise Tickle "Does Sex Education exclude young gay people?" Personally in my work I have always tried to be gender and sexuality neutral in all my lessons. I always use the term "partners" or using the full phrase "a boyfriend or girlfriend" in every sentence to any gender student. But sometimes I still find myself falling into hetronormative language. It is not a choice but an unconscious accident.
For example I had a interesting situation doing a condom demonstration in a school with a girl constantly talking over me (which I find so annoying).
I asked " Please listen for a few minutes then you could speak with your friends."
She replied. "But I don't need to know this"
I replied "you never know what might happen in the future and it both a male and a females shared responsibility to know how to minimize risks"
"But I don't need to know this"
I plowed on "it is good to be prepared with information, even if you never plan on using a condom during sex"
"But I don't need to know this because I'm a lesbian "
I felt like a fool, plowing on, insisting it was relevant and she was just trying to get out of trouble for talking over me. I suspect I'm not the only person who has made similar gaffs. But it highlights how easily people can get caught being insensitive on the topic of sex. In this situation once we had the class going on the condom applications I went over and talked through dental dams in more details for her. I wanted to make sure she was still getting the key information about minimizing STI risks.
This incident also raises another connected issue. I wish schools would give us more time to cover dental dams for cunnilingus and analingus, especially for those young gay people. Sadly teachers have actively asked me not to go into the details of dental dams. As the think it is too explicit!? but condoms application is very much wanted?. This doesn't seem fair or right. I believe that current sexual trends will encourage more young people, of all sexualities, to experiment with cunnilingus and analingus. I think we need to make room for dental dam in the SRE curriculum. But with the SRE curriculum being squeezed on all sides how can we include it without missing something else out?
P.S. My offline work has been so busy I have not posted for some time. One of my new year aims is to make this a higher priority. Hopefully this will mean more post about more topics.
The student shows a limited view when she stated "But I don't need to know this because I'm a lesbian" Why should lesbians exclude themselves from safe sexual practices? STI's can be passed on through female to female sex, so lesbians should always practice safe sex by using condoms/female condoms and dams. Covering sex toys with condoms is another way of protecting yourself. Regardless of a person's sexual orientation they have a responsibility to protect themselves and others from infections. Regardless of how she saw her need, she clearly has no manners, it is rude to talk over or during a teaching session as it disturbs everyone and while she felt she had no need the person she was talking to may have had a need to know. J Wild Sexual Health TrainerReplyDelete
Thank you for your comment. It is true she was expressing a limited view point and after the initial conversation I spoke one on one and she saw the importance of learning about general safe sex practice. At the time i did not think about the covering of sex toys (even though i know it in theory) Thank you for reminding me. i will make sure I keep that in mind if the situation ever happens again.
People talking over me always gets me SO annoyed even though I clearly remember as a school pupil myself getting confused why teachers got so mad. Now i understand. I feel I owe my old teachers an apology :)