The Basic LGBTQ+ Sex Education We Wish We'd Had At School
What counts as virginity if you're not straight?
While there’s no denying that sex education in school is important, there’s also no denying that it tends to be a bit basic, a bit too scientific and very heteronormative.
There’s no talk about mutual pleasure (which – SPOILER - is kinda the goal here) and there’s generally no real talk about the spectrum of sexuality and different forms of sex that go hand in hand with that either.
Luckily there’s no time like the present so let’s talk through a few basic points of LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education that we wish we’d been taught at the time.
Sex and virginity definitely aren’t limited to penis-in-vagina sex.
Your school sex ed and science lessons might define sex as something that happens when penis meets vagina, but this is very much just one form of sex. Hello anal and oral sex, for example.
Defining virginity in anything but heterosexual terms is something society still fails to do too. This may partly have something to do with the fact that traditionally ideas of virginity include a penis entering a vagina and breaking a woman’s hymen. Obviously though, for women virginity doesn’t actually mean the breaking of a hymen or plenty of cis ladies would have lost theirs using tampons or playing sport.
In fact, one of the best parts about sexuality is that you can define what your virginity means to you, no matter how you identify. Perhaps to your friend it could involve fingering, licking or using sex toys. To another it might mean oral and another anal. Perhaps to you it means a combination of the above or maybe it means something else entirely – ultimately it’s very much up to you to define.
Not all women have vaginas and not all men have penises.
There’s a difference between the sex and gender, and it’s a pretty important distinction to be aware of.
Sex is something you are assigned at birth on the basis of primary sex characteristics (so is usually based on the reproductive functions of your body) and even then it’s not as black and white as you might think. Intersex people are barely acknowledged in sexual education and that's something that needs to change.
Gender is a cultural construct and while it is often assumed from the sex you are assigned at birth, this overlooks the experience of many. For example transgender people, whose gender does not sit comfortably with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Being Bisexual And Being Pansexual are two very different things
Bisexual = people who are attracted to more than one gender. There’s a huge sliding scale on this one – bisexuals might fancy men a lot and women only a little; they can fancy mostly women but occasionally men. The possibilities are endless.
Pansexual = when someone is pansexual it means they are attracted to people regardless of their gender. They are attracted to individuals rather than one particular gender or sexuality, an that can be whomever they fancy.
You might not be sexually or romantically attracted to anyone at all – and that’s totally normal.
Not everyone experiences sexual or romantic attraction to other people and that’s totally cool.
People who don’t experience sexual attraction may identify as asexual. Some may also identify as a romantic asexual, as while they don’t feel sexual attraction, they still experience feelings of romantic attraction.
Ultimately what is important is to do what feels right to you.
You don’t have to just identify with one part of the LGBTQ+ community
Parts of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t mutually exclusive at all. You could be trans, genderqueer, non-binary or cis and still be gay, lesbian, bi, queer, asexual, pansexual or anything else.
You don’t have to label yourself as anything if you don’t want to.
Even though there’s a glorious variety of ways to describe gender and sexual orientation, for some people these still might feel too prescriptive. That’s totally fine as again, how you identify if up to you and if you don’t want to label yourself, you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so.
Some terms that people do sometimes find useful are questioning, non-binary and genderqueer, but again they may or may not be something you feel works for you.
Experimentation is totally normal
Having had sex with a man doesn’t stop you being a lesbian if that is the label that feels right for you.
Ultimately your sexual identity is defined by you and you alone, but experimentation any which way is totally normal and actually, as long as it’s safe sex, it’s a great way to get to know yourself and understand your sexuality.
Being curious is also totally normal - feel free to ask questions and google stuff. Everyone starts from having NO CLUE how sex is done, so don't be embarrassed, just take things at you and your partner's own pace and explore away together.
Condoms aren’t the only thing that keep you safe during sex
Safe sex is the best kind of sex and even if pregnancy is not a concern in the type of sex you are having, it’s important to remember that condoms also protect you from STIs.
If you and your partner haven’t both had a recent clear STI test then it’s so worth using protection until you do, just in case. This means using a condom during anal sex, vaginal sex and any oral sex that involving a penis. For oral sex involving the vagina or anus, get yourself a dental dam, which is a thin latex or polyurethane sheet that you lay over the opening to protect from transferring any STIs.
TV and film still favour a very heteronormative version of sex
Annoyingly, realistic accounts of anything other than healthy heterosexual sex lives are still pretty uncommon on TV and in film. Porn also has a tendency to fetishize certain types of sex (hello lesbian sex being portrayed for the straight male gaze, hello bisexuality continuously being portrayed as a 'phase').
It’s always important to remember that the purpose of sex is for mutual pleasure between consenting parties. This means that whatever type of sex you are having is fine as long as both of you are equally into it and you are aiming for mutual pleasure.
No matter a person’s gender or sexual orientation and whether you are having anal sex, oral sex, penis in vagina sex or anything in between, you must ALWAYS ensure your partner consents. And if you or your partner changes your mind halfway through, that is absolutely your right to do so.
Now why not test your knowledge of the humble penis...?