Ok, have you heard about the ‘Gay Men Draw Vaginas’ kickstarter campaign? It’s quirky. It’s cute. And I’m a big fan of both. But…
On the day I heard of the campaign I read the article titled ‘Pregnancy Rates High for Queer Youth‘ on the cover of my local 24Hours free newspaper.
See, the thing is, homo-identified teens have higher rates of pregnancy than their straight school mates. Why? We don’t know for sure. Maybe they’re looking to hide their gayness or maybe they’re seeing what the fuss is all about or maybe they identify as gay and still have straight sex sometimes. Whatever the reason, sex ed isn’t reaching them.
Sex education varies widely across North America and many are uninformed about anatomy, relationships and safer sex. The Center for American Progress (CAP) wrote about the absence of queer-positive sex education last year. “LGBT youth face particular challenges. Sex-education materials often assume students are heterosexual and nontransgender. Many sex-education curricula don’t mention sexual orientation or gender identity at all, and some that do discuss it only in a negative light. This not only prevents LGBT students from learning the information and skills they need to stay healthy, but it also contributes to a climate of exclusion in schools”.
Aside from the information relating to depression, anxiety, alienation and a lack of safety experienced by queer youth, here are some stats from the CAP article that highlight just how necessary education that speaks to queer needs and interests is.
- Young men who have sex with men, who may identify as gay or bisexual, account for more than two-thirds of new HIV infections among people ages 13 to 29.
- Men who have sex with men account for about two-thirds of new syphilis cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that incidence in this community may be rising.
- Young women in high school who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are more likely to contract an STI and more likely to become pregnant than those who identify as heterosexual or questioning.
- Young women who have had both male and female partners are at the highest risk of coercion and dating violence.
- Among transgender people, HIV prevalence rates are more than four times the national average.
- Transgender and gender nonconforming youth also experience high rates of sexual violence.
I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag but all of us, including gay men, can know something about female genitalia. LGBT youth need to know some of the basics. We could offer them the kickstarter book (since the campaign has raised over $35k in a few days) and also perhaps some information about ovaries, the uterus, menstruation, sperm, pre-ejaculate, conception – throw in a little about the clitoris too, for good measure. And oh, also we could offer information about what gay people can do in the sack – how its different, how its mostly the same, how it feels good, how critically important communication is for sex to be good and how it has associated risks too.
Local programs like YouthCo are sorely underfunded to do the sex-positive, queer positive harm reduction work that they do. There’s hundreds of organizations like theirs across North America. Feel free to mention them in the comment section below and make a donation since the work they do isn’t kickstarter material.
Finally, a book where gay men (or anyone) drew vaginas would be really boring and I’m certain wouldn’t get much traction. These gay men have been busy drawing vulvas which are infinitely more fun and fabulous to draw.