Since today is National Coming Out Day, I want to shine the spotlight on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. In the past few weeks, the headlines have been filled with stories about LGBTQ teen suicides, and bullying in our schools.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to commit suicide as their heterosexual peers, mainly as a result of the negative attitudes about LGBTQ people that are so pervasive in our culture.
Arizona is not immune to the negative climate for queer youth in our schools. One of the challenges is that Arizona schools do not offer comprehensive sex education. Rather, they focus on abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum. Abstinence-only is a huge waste of money, and it’s harmful for all teens. But let’s look at the particular problems that abstinence-only education creates for LGBTQ youth.
Arizona does not recognize the right of same-sex couples to get married. When LGBTQ youth hear that they should remain abstinent until marriage, they may interpret that message as not being applicable to their lives. As a result, they may have unprotected sex, since teens are not getting information about how to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Is it any wonder that 1 in 4 teens in the state of Arizona has a sexually transmitted infection?
Moreover, abstinence-only curriculum contributes to negative attitudes about LGBTQ people, because it assumes that heterosexuality is the norm. When LGBTQ teens are repeatedly told that they are abnormal, they may experience depression and other mental health effects. Is it any wonder that LGBTQ youth have such alarming suicide rates?
Planned Parenthood supports comprehensive sex education for all of Arizona’s youth. We also support candidates who will support our mission of promoting and protecting every person’s freedom and right to enjoy sexual health and well-being, to make reproductive choices, and build healthy, strong families.
Please lend your support to LGBTQ youth by voting for candidates who support comprehenisve sex education in our schools. Sex ed classes may be one of the few places that LGBTQ teens hear positive messages about themselves in the schools. And we owe it to our youth to send them a positive message. For a list of PPAA-endorsed candidates, check out our 2010 voter guide.