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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Must I Be A (Queer) Teenager In Love?

Freaks I had my first round of sex education class in fifth grade while attending public school in New England. We learned all about the birds and bees — how a penis and vagina go together, how women have babies with adoring husbands by their sides. But what about the the bees who like to do it with other bees? And the birds who choose never to have babies?

Looking back now, I can see that my teacher was clearly uncomfortable with the subject matter (she was "roommates" with the women's field hockey and softball coach). Frankly, I don't remember much mention of queer issues during my formative years — oh, except that short chapter called something like, "My Uncle and His Friend, Bob" in the sex education book my mom gave me.  The chapter talked about this girl's Uncle and his friend, Bob, who would take the youngster to the amusement park sometimes. Okay — so gays like cotton candy and never have kids of their own? Right.

Thankfully, times have changed. I wouldn't necessarily say that queer issues get equal time in public schools, but for many queer youth — it's better than in my day. And if queer teenagers want more sex education, focused on how to be safe and know their own limits, they can turn to Outright Vermont, whose mission is to build safe, healthy, and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth. Outright is hosting The Summer Sex Institute, suitable for queer youth from high school to 22 years of age. The program will host weekly sessions on everything from Coming Out and Flirting 101 to HIV 101. Sessions start this week, and you can find the full schedule here. If you know a GLBTQ youth, consider letting them know about the program — it's important stuff.


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