Why Schools Need To Teach About Sexuality & LGBT History

Whenever I tell students that Latin and Greek words can be one of three genders, I often hear a nervous giggle when I mention that, in addition to masculine and feminine gender words, there are words in the neuter gender. Then, throughout the semester, I note that “male” and “female” are not the only genders and never have been.

That, in many works of ancient literature including the 8th-century-BCE poet Homer’s Iliad, men describe their love for men (the hero Achilles’ deepest love is for his long-time friend, Patroklos), and women express ardent desire for women (in many poems by the 6th century BCE poet Sappho of Lesbos).

That, when the philosopher Plato writes about love in his dialogues the Symposium and Phaidros, he is writing about men’s desire for other men.

That, in ancient Greek drama, all the actors were men, so women’s parts were played by men in women’s dress.

That marriage has by no means “always” meant a union of a man and a woman out of romantic love: In ancient Athens, the groom was often much older than the bride and had had (a number of) relationships with younger men.

Tomorrow, May 17, is this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT): Students need to know that homosexuality is not (as some may falsely claim) a sign of how our modern society is morally depraved; that it is simply not true that “people back then” were all straight and that marriage has “always” and “only” been between a man and a woman; that there is nothing wrong and everything right to be attracted to someone of the same sex.

I teach college students and don’t have a school board or PTA scrutinizing what I teach or declaring the above facts scandalous. But even though it can be controversial to discuss the history of sexuality and sex education — including what condoms and contraception are, for sure — these are subjects that absolutely must be part of every child’s education. Numerous studies have shown that sex education can help to reduce teen pregnancy and that abstinence-only education does not lead to abstinent behavior.

I underscore that sex education must be part of “every child’s education.” My son is a teenager and, due to the extent of his cognitive and communication challenges as he’s autistic, he has not gone through the sort of sex education typical in the US involving (for instance) cartoons of the sperm in search of the egg and distribution of so-called feminine security products (you know, tampons). But certainly he needs to know as much as he can not only about what is “safe” behavior, but that it is quite all right to have certain feelings and sensations. Not to teach children and young persons with disabilities about sex education is not to acknowledge that yes, children with disabilities grow up and mature, physically and cognitively.

In the spirit of IDAHOT: What kind of sex education is your child receiving at school, or did you receive at school? Or is the sex education your child receiving insufficient? What needs to be taught, especially with so many reports of LGBT youth being bullied and worse?


Related Care2 Coverage

European Leaders: It Gets Better! (VIDEO)

Why Is May 17 International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

An LGBT History Lesson: People Who Changed History


Photo by istolethetv


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson6 years ago

or just teach respect and appreciation of differences.

Deborah F.
Deborah F6 years ago

Our children need to be fully informed on everything. Unfortunately, this is becoming a "Brave New World" and the slants in this country are getting to be as bad or worse than "The Red Scare" I lived through. We all were horrified to learn of the communist propaganda and the selective information given to the population. Now, we should look in the mirror.

Deborah F.
Deborah F6 years ago

I wish that someone would have been around 50 years ago for me. I had no notion until I was an adult that there were even bi-sexual people. However, the way I found out was in such an accepting way that I now have a totally open mind. I have many gay friends. I am completely straight but have had relationships with bi-sexuals. As long as they are honest and have a good heart, what it the problem?

Tony C.
Tony C6 years ago

A class in RESPECT AND RESPONSIBILITY should be taught from Grade one to graduation. Children should be taught that anything is permissible as long as it does not hurt themselves or anyone else. If children are taught at a very early age that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses and that they should use their strengths to help others not to tease or bully them.
It should not matter if a child comes from a FAMILY of a mother and father, 2 mothers or 2 fathers or a single mother or father as long as they are LOVED.
Sex Education should be taught on LGBT, Contraceptives, Masturbation, Pregnancy and all forms of sex. Let us face it whether we like it or not children are curious and are having sex earlier. Children should be taught the JOYS and the CONSEQUENCES of having sex ( Pregnancy, STD, AIDS and others.) Cut out Geography or History early on then put it back in. Geometry and Algebra can be learned in college if needed. I believe this is a solution. Stopping the damage before it starts so that Bullying, Sexual Assault, and many others will be greatly diminished if not eradicated. It is my belief that when children graduate with these principles where they are taught RESPECT for themselves and others and to take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions. If children grow up with these values, I believe business and government would benefit greatly. Within a few generations this world would be a much better place to live in.

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch6 years ago

If the parent's that are uncomfortable discussing such matters, leave it up to their children to learn about this "in the streets", the mis-information is much worse than the reality, and their children will suffer.

Arild Warud

I totally agree.

s. r.
p. q6 years ago


Lauren B.

Great great great! We do not serve our kids well in this age of media sex and sex hype to leave them uniformed and unprotected by both a chance to really talk about sex and have easy access and instruction about birth control.

J.L. A.
JL A6 years ago

Excellent points well supported with solid evidence.

Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson6 years ago

And because humans are still humans makes it right?