Target: United States Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon
Goal: Protect youth from discrimination and abuse by requiring LGBT topics in middle and high school sex education curricula.
Since 2011, the Office for Civil Rights, a sub-agency of the Department of Education charged with protecting civil rights in federally assisted educational programs, has issued multiple comprehensive guidelines addressing sexual discrimination and sexual violence. These guidelines have consisted of regulations, policies and standards that schools and educational programs are expected to abide by. While these guidelines have sought to ensure that LGBT students have equal, safe access to education, they have not supported a growing national effort to introduce LGBT inclusive sex education. In the absence of such support, schools in such states as Texas and Alabama have clung to anti-gay sex education curricula that often explicitly present the LGBT community as immoral and dangerous. Legislatures in some states have even banned the discussion of homosexuality in a positive manner as part of a school curriculum.
The Office for Civil Rights has been presented with a wealth of evidence suggesting the potential benefits of LGBT inclusive sex education. Among these benefits are reductions in rates of STD contraction and lower numbers of sexual assaults among LGBT teens. This is a population in desperate need of more support — HIV infection rates are rising rapidly among gay teens in particular, while lesbian and bisexual teens experience twice the risk of unintended pregnancy than their heterosexual classmates. Although the OCR has committed itself to promoting the safety of LGBT students, it has remained inexcusably silent in the midst of this intensifying national conversation.
Four states already require sex ed classes to be inclusive of issues pertaining to LGBT youth. By signing the petition below, you are imploring the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights to address the increasingly urgent national need for more states to follow suit.
Dear Assistant Secretary Lhamon,
The LGBT teen population in our country is in dire need of more support from sex ed classes in middle and high schools. These teens are more likely than their heterosexual classmates to engage in risky sexual behaviors, as a consequence of our national education system’s utter failure to provide LGBT youth with proper education and resources.
Only four states currently require sex ed classes to be LGBT inclusive. In most schools across the country, an antiquated, heteronormative model of sexuality is still taught, while homosexuality is often disparaged as immoral. Even though rates of HIV, sexual violence and even unintended pregnancy are at alarmingly high levels among LGBT youth, sex ed classes have fallen inexplicably short of their mission to provide accurate information regarding safe and healthy sexual practices to all students.
I am urging the OCR to issue a new guidance that addresses our nation’s devastating lack of LGBT inclusive sex education.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Manasa Gowda