This Viral Tweet Thread Reveals How Stigmas About Sex Hurt LGBTQ People

A Teen Vogue story about anal sex received backlash on social media and an editor's response reveals a big problem with sexual education for young LGBTQ Americans. 

On July 7, Teen Vogue published a story by Genie Engle called, "Anal Sex: What You Need to Know." The story's aim was to explain this type of sex so that people could be better informed about their own sexual health. 

"When it comes to your body, it’s important that you have the facts," Engle wrote. "Being in the dark is not doing your sexual health or self-understanding any favors. With that sentiment in mind, we’re here to lay it all out for you when it comes to anal sex."

The story started a firestorm on Twitter among conservatives, some claiming it was encouraging teens to "sodomize each other." 

In response to the backlash, Teen Vogue's Digital Editorial Director Phillip Picardi shared a personal story.

Picardi explained why sex education is so important for LGBTQ youth, and how the perceived stigma and discrimination against gay sex can actually harm public health. He said he attended a Catholic high school where he received no sexual education and experienced religious-based homophobic rhetoric. 

He said that he didn't learn important information about sexually transmitted diseases until he was at New York University and was already having sex.

Picardi added that the lack of sexual education in high school put all students in danger, arguing that "education doesn't equal encouragement." 

He tweeted that access to reproductive health care and inclusive sexual education are necessary to protect the health of LGBTQ and straight people alike. 

He ended the thread with a middle finger to homophobia. 

Inclusive sex education is important. 

Substantial research shows that comprehensive sex education can reduce risky sexual behaviors and increase the use of contraception, but not everyone is getting the information they need. An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most middle schools and high schools are failing to teach all of the sex education topics the CDC recommends. Less than one-fifth of middle schools, and only half of high schools, were complying with all the sex education recommendations from the federal agency.

The latest draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act—Republicans' proposal to replace Obamacare—also seeks to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which is an important source of sex education and family planning resources for low-income people. 

For LGBTQ students, the situation is even worse. 

A 2015 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute said that only 12 percent of millennials reported having sex education classes that covered same-sex relationships. A 2013 National School Climate Survey found that less than 5 percent of LGBTQ students had classes that included positive representations of LGBTQ issues. 

"For LGBTQ youth to experience comparable health benefits to their non-LGBTQ peers, sex education programs must be LGBTQ-inclusive," the Human Rights Campaign wrote in a call to action on its website. "Inclusive programs are those that help youth understand gender identity and sexual orientation with age-appropriate and medically accurate information; incorporate positive examples of LGBTQ individuals, romantic relationships and families; emphasize the need for protection during sex for people of all identities; and dispel common myths and stereotypes about behavior and identity."

You can read the Phillip Picardi's entire tweet thread on his Twitter page. 

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