This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

Contribute Thoughts | Search Serendip for Other Papers | Serendip Home Page

English 212
2002 Second Paper
On Serendip

Sex Ed--Lesbians, etc.

Sarah Mendell

The following paper is a brief sketch of a sexual education "curriculum" I have constructed that is geared towards the acceptance, appreciation and encouragement of lesbians. I will not address the paper to only members of that group nor will I present only lesbian sex education because one of the key elements of the education is to do with the flexibility of labels and orientations which would render the formation of a group of strictly self-identifying lesbians and the idea of a strictly lesbian sexually active lifestyle impossible. More importantly perhaps, I have chosen to present this curriculum in a heterosexual setting because that is where lesbians liveŚwithin a heterosexually dominated society that automatically links lesbianism with abnormality in life and in language.
The main goal of the education is to dispel this notion of abnormality and inferiority by discussing sexuality as a qualitative experience rather than sex as a quantitative act, in other words, to emphasize the feelings involved in sexual acts rather than the actual acts themselves. But in order to dispel the popular notion that lesbian sex is somehow inferior to heterosexual sex, an education of what is meant by "sex" emotionally and physically is necessary. I feel that in order to break down the stereotype of heterosexual sex as the "only" sex, an exploration of how men and women can be sexual with each other is necessary. To tell youths that there are lots of ways to be sexual with each other without informing them how is to deny them their own well-educated, well-explored opinion. While I hope I could say I value all opinions, I will admit that the desired opinion is of a more open-minded nature. The curriculum will achieve its desired effect by presenting a truly sexual education which is to say that it will not consider homosexuality a separate topic; it will instead discuss a topic of general sexual interest in terms of homo and heterosexuality together.
Early Education and Parent Orientation
The first step to take is to subtly include in the kindergarten classroom art and literature that depicts homosexuals as couples and parents. Wherever "mommy and daddy" were once incorporated, now so must "mommy and mommy" and "daddy and daddy" exist. Though children have already been through quite a bit of socialization by this time, it is still early enough to encourage their acceptance of homosexuals by acknowledging their existence and acknowledging it as normal. Complementing this subtle education, a meeting should be held for the parents of entering students for the purpose of explaining the school's long-term approach to sex education. The orientation should be presented with assertiveness and pride; no change in curriculum on the basis of parent concern may be allowed. Parents may, of course, ask questions and voice concerns but the presenters should remain steadfast in their dedication to teaching sexual equality. Parents should also be encouraged to promote the school's teaching of such equality and be reminded of the importance of their actions and words particularly in terms of sexuality.
Middle School Education
Early in the middle school, the idea of sexuality should be introduced explicitly. Sexual behavior according to sexuality must not now be discussed; it is important first to establish the idea that difference in sexual preference does exist and the feelings attached to those preferences are important to explore in one self and honor in others. Discussion of sexuality should not be divided between homosexuals and heterosexuals but instead use more all-encompassing words like pansexual, flexural or PoMosexual (post modern sexual) as examples of an open-minded attitude expressed by a growing population. Feelings rather than explicit detail should be discussed so as to promote a general acceptance of the idea of flexible sexuality.
Soon after, though, it is necessary to get more specific; to support the notion of men and women being sexual with either men or women by explaining how. A comprehensive list of sexual possibilities should be drawn from the classroom and the facilitator may add to it accordingly. The important part here is to not divide the sexual acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals and particularly bisexuals who will seem to apparently experiment in all of the actions listed, thereby exacerbating the preconceived notion of this group as sexually promiscuous. It should be mentioned, for example, that a man can fist a woman, that fisting is not necessarily a strictly "lesbian" activity. By breaking down who can do what to whom, the line dividing sexualities becomes considerably blurred.
Safer sex education should begin not long after the introduction of sexual activities. The one thing that must not occur during this section of the education is the merging of talk on homosexuality and AIDS. It should be stressed that since AIDS and other STDs can be transmitted through body fluid swapping it can happen between any two people; the risks of sexually transmitted diseases should therefore be defined in terms of behaviors, not sexual orientations. In order to make this very important point it may be necessary to remind the group of the previous list of sexual activities and how much overlap of who can do what to whom exists. Methods for practicing safer sex should be described clearly and any supplements like condoms and dental dams should be made readily available; risks must be described. One of the main goals of this part of the curriculum, however, is to convey a sense of trust in the student's decisions and should instill in him or her a sense of responsibility to his or her own body and those of potential partners.
High School Education
It is at this point during the student's life when a deeper analysis of homosexuality promulgates rich conversation and intense introspection. Discussion should take place in small groups and should include topics such as stereotypes (particularly of lesbians, of diesel dyke versus lipstick lesbian), identity markers, religion as it relates to sexuality, homophobia, the idea of nature versus nurture, labels (do we need more of them or fewer? And how do we label ourselves and others?), what is deemed trendy versus what is felt as truth, how is to be on either the offensive or defensive side of homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality, and reproduction as a more viable option for homosexual couples than ever before, to name a few.
A Note
It should be mentioned that the kind of education I am describing will not be implemented easily in any school setting especially in light of homophobic and/or fearful parents and the media. An article reviewing a state sponsored workshop on homosexuality education read, "To say that the descriptions below...are 'every parent's nightmare' does not do them justice. It is beyond belief that this could be happening at all. One music teacher who attended out of curiosity said that she could not sleep for several nights afterwards and had nightmares about it." It is, however, because of comments like this made by parents that make it all the more necessary to implement such an education for children.

Sources Referenced:

Rouse, Rose. "Life: Living: Love, Sex, Family, Friends." The Observer, April 28 2002.

Camenker, Brian and Whiteman, Scott. "Kids Get Graphic Instruction in Homosexual Sex." Massachusetts News.

Planned Parenthood. "Lesbian Safer Sex."

Newman, Felice. Book Review: The Whole Lesbian Sex Book.

Marti, Hohmann. "Sex Between Women." Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, The. 1997. wysiwyg://48/

Bernhard, Linda. "Let's Talk About Sex." Lesbian Review of Books, The. 1997. wysiwyg://40/

Kitzinger, Celia and Perkins, Rachel. "Demoralizing our Sex Lives: What Lesbian Psychology Does to Lesbian Sex." Off Our Backs: A Women's Newsjournal. 1993. wysiwyg://32/http://gw.softlineweb/com/r...rnPage=list.asp&articleID=44568&recNum=2

Bernard, Linda. "The Bedrock of Lesbian Culture." Lesbian Review of Books, The. 1998. wysiwyg://25/http://gw.softlineweb/com/r...rnPage=list.asp&articleID=81370&recNum=1

| Forums | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 10:51:32 CDT