By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | December 3, 2015
Senior Editor, ETR
LGBTQ youth face a number of elevated risks in the general and sexual health arenas—including some we might not expect, such as increased risk of pregnancy. They are also more likely to get STDs, be sexually victimized and participate in survival sex.
A promising strategy for reducing these risks is building greater equity, responsiveness and inclusiveness in our sex education programs. We need to explicitly state that LGBTQ youth are at risk for these consequences, and we need to do it in a manner that respects and engages all students.
I’m happy to announce that ETR has just released an updated version of our LGBTQ supplement for sexual health programs—a resource designed for exactly this purpose. This is a green-light adaptation for evidence-based STD/HIV/pregnancy prevention programs (also designed to work in programs not considered evidence based). It gives educators background on the issues, provides a supplemental class addressing sexual and gender identity, and offers a discussion guide that can be applied to just about any sexual health lesson or conversation.
Most of the evidence-based programs we find on funders’ lists (such as here) were developed before we understood how vital strategies for LGBTQ inclusiveness are. ETR's new supplement (and a similar one designed specifically for the Reducing the Risk program) allows educators to work with proven programs and make the necessary adaptations to provide effective interventions for all youth.
Our new supplements have been available for about a month. So I was thrilled to hear about and read the just-released A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education. What a fabulous resource!
SIECUS, along with five other national organizations taking leadership in this matter (Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, HRC and Planned Parenthood) gives us impressively substantive background along with practical, achievable solutions.
If you work in the field of adolescent health in any capacity, I encourage you take a look at the report. And then take some action. Advocate for inclusive education. Implement it in your programs. Talk it up in your community. And join this extraordinary coalition in taking real steps to protect young people’s health and save lives.
Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES, is Senior Editor and manager of ETR’s blog. She can be reached at email@example.com.