This common myth about sex is believed by a worrying number of people
I remember sex education as a child. The subject is an experience I will never forget purely for how hilarious it was. To put it into simple terms, sex education in my school involved putting a condom on a hard, plastic penis and briefly speaking about the risks of STIs. In all seriousness, sex education did not set us up for sexual encounters in the real world, and like the majority of young people, we were left to learn about sex through practising it.
However, this lack of education and diversity across the educational system when it comes to talking about intercourse has some worrying results. It would be fair to say that the majority of sex education classes are heteronormative. Learning the various different ways to avoid pregnancy through putting condoms on and taking the pill are all topics aimed at heterosexual encounters. This, of course, means that homosexual relationships are not really discussed, particularly lesbian relationships.
This lack of teaching, intertwined with the myths of sexuality and the glamorization of sex through pornography, means that a lot of adolescents are not clued up about the subject and the realities of sex. In a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, it was remarked that a large percentage of teen girls who identify as bisexual or lesbian are unaware that you can pick up an STI through intercourse with another female.
This theory is backed up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which claims that lesbian and bisexual women are much more likely to contract particular diseases than heterosexual women. The center argues that this data shows the importance of a more inclusive sex education, which looks at all types of sexuality, rather than just heterosexual.
The latest study was conducted by researchers from the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in California and involved researchers from the University of British Columbia and the City University of New York. The study used online focus groups that involved 160 lesbian and bisexual girls aged between 14 - 18 years old. The team posed a series of questions to the girls and their answers were later analyzed.
The researchers found that, in general, the girls in question were reluctant to use protection during sex as they were worried that it would reduce pleasure. They also believed that women were much less likely to have an STI then men, so felt like having same-sex intercourse was much safer for them.
Jennifer Wolowic, co-author of the study, said that she was surprised by the lack of knowledge when it came to practising safe sex with female partners. She believes that the results show the need for a more inclusive sexual education system.
"When we asked why, many told us they didn't find their sex ed programs – if they even had one – to be very informative. And even when they asked questions, the focus on heterosexual sex made them feel uncomfortable"
No doubt that the results are worrying. I'm not too sure why sex is still treated as a taboo in society, particularly same-sex relationships. School is meant to be informative and educational and by avoiding talking about subjects such as homosexual intercourse, we are doing a disservice to the next generation of adults.