Fusion: Need for LGBTQ Inclusive Sex Ed in Del Norte’s Schools

Fusion: Need for LGBTQ Inclusive Sex Ed in Del Norte’s Schools

CRESCENT CITY, CA– Growing up queer in a remote Northern California town of just 7,500 people, I experienced firsthand how a rural school can fail to meet the needs of LGBTQ students. It’s a failure with dire consequences.

I experienced abuse in a relationship for the first time at age 13, in part because I lacked any knowledge of what it means to consent. And without healthy queer relationships to model, I presumed my partner’s manipulations were normal. Suffering abuse, dealing with intolerance in my community and lacking any institutional support to speak of, I developed some unhealthy coping mechanisms: I was self-medicating by age 14, and self-harming at 15. At the time, I hated myself and was feeling ashamed. In an attempt to leave Del Norte, I had my first experience in sex work at 16, with a man three times my age.

Sadly, this ripple effect is not altogether uncommon among LGBTQ youth, especially for those of us living in geographically and culturally isolated areas. When we don’t see ourselves reflected in the world around us, when we are systematically marginalized and when our very identities are painted as deviant, we can become that self-fulfilling prophecy.

California took a positive step toward addressing the problem with the passage of AB 329, otherwise known as the California Healthy Youth Act, late last year. The bill expanded on existing law to ensure that students will receive “comprehensive” sex education, including “affirmative” examples of same-sex relationships and education about gender identity.

But how will it actually play out in the classroom? If taken seriously and applied thoughtfully, the new law could make a huge difference in the lives of queer youth, especially those living in rural communities. So, I went to my local high school, Del Norte High, to ask queer students: What would you like to see covered in your new, “comprehensive” sex-ed classes?

Read the rest of the article here: http://fusion.net/story/284851/queer-lgbtq-sexed-ab329/

To read more about writer, Jacob Patterson and her Rise Up; Be Heard! Fellowship with Fusion, check out our article here: http://www.redwoodvoice.com/local-youth-journalist-selected-for-fusion-fellowship/