As A Student Myself, Why I Think Sexuality Education Is A Must In Schools

Posted on September 14, 2015 in LGBTQ, Sex, Sexual Health, Society, Taboos

By Vartika Neeraj

I recently transferred to one of the most reputed schools of Delhi, which has an incredible faculty, breath-taking infrastructure, and great ambience. But interacting with the students, I could sense something was off. Perhaps it was the switch from my previous school which had a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and where liberal conversations were encouraged, to this school which was a little more conservative. Whenever the topic of LGBTQIA+ rights would come up, you could always find certain students who were uncomfortable with the on-going discussions.

Furthermore, there were certain students who were outright disapproving of the whole concept.

classroom school children
I suppose the reason behind this is that nobody ever took the time out to explain all the facts to them so that they themselves could form an informed opinion. Many of them, in fact, seemed influenced by what their parents or teachers believed.

I remember the first time I suggested forming a GSA of sorts in the school, it was followed by a spree of unsettling sighs and I quote a student, “What?! You want to start a club for gay people. That’s crazy.” Moreover, the principal said that she doesn’t believe that the students are mature enough to support such issues. But that is exactly what the issue is. Assuming that school-going children are not mature enough to form an opinion regarding LGBTQIA+ rights is not just derogatory but also belittles them. With the advent of social media and a P.M. who quotes our ‘demographic dividend’ as a selling point, young people’s opinion matters today like never before. In fact, they will be the ones who go on to become policy makers and legislators who will decide on these issues. Or even parents and teachers later, who will be able to educate their children about this better.

This is where the need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) comes into play. If one of the most well thought of schools in Delhi – which happens to be arguably one of the most liberal cities of India has such a low level of awareness regarding sexuality education, what the situation in other schools all over India might be like is hard to tell! Eventually, I managed to make the authorities see the vitality of CSE, and a workshop was conducted to improve the awareness level of the senior students.

What needs to be understood is that CSE is important because it allows the youth to understand and make informed decisions about their sexuality. It is taught over the years using age-appropriate information which is in sync with their evolving learning capacities. It includes scientific information regarding human development and anatomy, helping young people comes to terms with the changes their bodies and minds are undergoing.

CSE is very different from the current model of ‘sex-ed’ followed in some schools which often includes a class of giggling students led by someone who themselves is uncomfortable and believes that any mention of the word ‘sex’ would encourage sexual activities. CSE on the other hand, recognizes the multitude of ways of sexual expression. It is inclusive of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual and multiple other sexual identities and behaviours. What’s more, such a curriculum could be inclusive of LGBTQIA+ issues by including respectful and sensitive discussion on topics like gender, gender and sexual identity amongst other topics. Not only would this help students explore their identities, but it would help them be more accepting and appreciative of others.

After interacting with my peers from all over, it is quite evident to me that the curiosity factor is there among us students. People would often ask me questions like “What is the Kinsey Scale and how does it work?”, “How do sex reassignment surgeries work?”, “What exactly does section 377 entail?” The level of enthusiasm I noted during the GSA meetings speaks volumes about the fact that people have the desire, moreover the need to know more.

Everybody is talking about LGBTQIA+ rights and it’s become a trend of sorts, with pop culture actively featuring it. People have opinions, they are using the pride filter as their Facebook display picture, they are singing songs about it. All in all, a lot of students are supportive of LGBTQIA+ rights. However, this is mostly shaped by other people’s opinions and what’s popular. They don’t have sufficient information to formulate their own opinions. Then there are those who are still uncomfortable when talking about sexuality and those who are forthright hateful. The only fix to this is involving a comprehensive sexuality education in the curriculum of school-going youngsters. After all, information is power.

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