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Abstinence-only education marginalizes LGBT students

Monday, March 19, 2012

A few days ago, Utah Governor Gary Herbert vetoed an abstinence-only education bill that was passed in both the state Senate and House.

If signed, the bill would have restricted any public education on sex to teachings about abstinence as well as eliminate any teachings of any other sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.

The bill was widely criticized by Democrats in Utah as well as individuals and organizations from across the United States.

Even the normally conservative populous of Utah was not impressed with the bill, polls showing that the majority of the state’s population wanted the governor to veto the legislation.

But, as more and more states start to jump on the bandwagon of “abstinence-only” education, the impact upon LGBT students’ needs to be addressed.

Even if the Utah bill had not specified that homosexuality and gender identity should not be discussed in the classroom, there would have still been dire consequences for LGBT youth.

In the election of 2004 – an election known for its anti-gay rhetoric – the people of Utah passed their own anti-equality marriage amendment, effectively eliminating any chance for same-sex couples to enjoy any of the rights of marriage in that state.

Because of this amendment, the status of marriage within society is obviously unavailable to same-sex couples. This is where the problem lies.

Abstinence-only education teaches children that one should wait until they are married in order to have sex.

Proponents claim that abstinence before marriage is the best and only way to ensure that one does not get pregnant or contract STD’s. This poses a problem for LGBT youth in states – such as Utah – which have marriage amendments, because the reality of their sexual experience is left unaddressed.

According to the proposed sexual education guidelines promoted by Utah legislators (and other states), because marriage is only between a man and a woman, and because LGBT people cannot get married, it stands to reason that these lawmakers believe that LGBT children should be celibate.

Such a manifestation of underhanded homophobia prevalent within abstinence legislation is not something that surprises me. Even in the transcripts of the Utah discussion over their bill, lawmakers like John Valentine expressed a deep desire that discussions on sexual orientation should not be encouraged in the classroom.

But the fact that lawmakers are willing to marginalize LGBT students for political gain is what sickens me.

Instead of affirming that each child’s sexuality is unique and a key component of whom he/she is, lawmakers in states like Utah are engaging in nothing short than bullying.

They are not only inferring to LGBT children that their lives are not worth learning about, but they are also telling them that the only way they can be productive members of society is to live their lives alone.

© Kyle Luebke.
For more by Kyle Luebke, click here to visit his blog.
Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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9 more reader comments:

  1. Are we just now saying this? Maybe it’s because I’m from Texas and had to deal with the bs that is abstinence education as a student AND a teacher…but this seemed obvious years ago!

    Posted on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 11:41pm
  2. Abstinence only education diminishes us all.

    Posted on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 11:46pm
  3. The only sex ed I’ve ever heard of around Cleveland that wasn’t abstinence-based was in a UC church. Glad Utah vetoed it, but this is not a new thing.

    Posted on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 11:50pm
  4. Like this is gonna work?????????? Lol

    Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:04am
  5. I’ve seen what abstinence only programs do, over 50% of my graduating class of 300 students either had a kid in high school or right after. That’s what this kind of program does. Gotta love how it’s wrong to teach abstinence only to LGBTQ kids but not letting them get married is ok in utah and other such states. Equal education but no equality for adults what a joke.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:10am
  6. Utah: the *1 state in the Union for online porn consumption ~

    Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 12:39am
  7. Sarah Palin and her kid are a PERFECT example of how well abstinence-only education fails. Palin couldn’t prevent her own kid from getting knocked up. Had she put her daughter on the pill and given her some condoms, there wouldn’t be a baby.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 3:56am
  8. Yep, i give my kids condoms in their goodie bags for their birthday.. sometimes christmas.. I didnt for my sons last birthday and I heard about it lololol, so funny…It’s better to be smart about it then put your kid in the ground from aids or somthing.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 5:24am
  9. as someone who lives in utah I have to give kudos to our idiot governor for finally see that the people that put him office have a voice. He said he would weight the options and that he wouldn’t be swayed by social media. we had a HUGE petition drive and over 60% of the state said to veto this. most parents don’t want that talk with their kids so someone does. I guess its better than what we had in the 80′s. no sex ed was allowed. some times Utah is the most backward a$$ed state.

    Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 11:43am