Missy Brown, Emily Cerciello and Andrea Flynn detail how sex ed programs in North Carolina, in their current design, are harmful to LGBTQ youth.
The current heterosexual bias in sexual education is a systemic policy failure that is harming young people. Teaching abstinence-only sex ed designed exclusively for heterosexual, cisgender students limits young people’s knowledge about their own sexuality and gender identity—and that of their peers—and poses a risk to students’ physical and mental health. Inaccurate and inadequate sex ed legislation and curricula contribute to risky sexual behaviors and foster an unhealthy environment for LGBTQ students who already experience higher rates of emotional distress, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts than their cisgendered and heterosexual peers. Among transgender youth, 90 percent reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression, and a shocking 33.2 percent have attempted suicide.