Sex education is about protecting kids

Written by Amy Middleton on . Posted in News & Updates


OP.ED If sex education is about protecting kids, it also needs to be about empowerment. When I was 19, I went to a GP to ask if two women could give each other sexually transmitted infections. The GP didn't pause to think, or flip open a book to check the facts. She responded, plainly, "No, they can't."

I was young, in a relationship with another woman, and undereducated. But I was wise enough to seek guidance, even though unfortunately, the information I got was incorrect. And it's not an uncommon story.

Sex education doesn't happen organically, and it's rarely a simple lesson, especially when your identity doesn't fit with what's described in the medical journals. The lack of understanding around LGBTI healthcare is symptomatic of a wider problem: a general lack of respect for diversity and individual experience in this country.

Unfortunately, due to a series of damaging decisions by our leaders, things are about to get a whole lot worse. One of those decisions was announced last week, with the federal government set to cut all funding to the Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH).

YEAH, as the name suggests, is a youth-led organisation that trains young people to become peer educators in sexual health. Across Australia, hundreds of proficient young people known as 'Agents of YEAH' appear at festivals, cultural events and queer spaces to share information and talk openly about sex with their similarly-aged peers. Their teaching ensures they are 100% inclusive.

The YEAH office is decorated with photos of the younger generations – fresh faced, with sunnies and caps and branded singlets, interacting with their peers at outdoor events. They have activities and games and info sheets about sexuality and health. They do not discriminate based on identity. They provide a non-judgemental, safe and anonymous environment for young people to have conversations and ask questions about sex.

The organisation won't continue past June 30, due to the lack of financial support.

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