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Sex education is failing to teach teenage girls about safe lesbian sex

(Picture: Ella Byworth for
Imagine if the majority of teenagers didn’t know that you co..

By admin , in Life , at January 12, 2018

Sex education is failing to teach teenage girls about safe lesbian sex
(Picture: Ella Byworth for

Imagine if the majority of teenagers didn’t know that you could catch an STI through penetrative sex without a condom?

That’d be an outrage, right? A sign that sex education is failing to teach teenagers about the need for safe sex?

That’s the situation for lesbian and bisexual girls, who new research suggests are being majorly let down by sex and relationships education.

A new study led by researchers at the Centre for Innovative Public Health Research in collaboration with researchers at the University of British Columbia and the City University of New York found that the majority of lesbian and bisexual girls in the U.S. don’t know that they can get STIs from other girls, because the sex ed they receive is designed purely for their straight peers.

Researchers believe that this could be placing women who have sex with women at an increased risk for getting STIS. Makes sense, really – why would women and girls use protection while having sex with women if they aren’t aware there’s any danger?

The study involved conducting online focus groups with 160 lesbian and bisexual teenage girls from around the U.S., asking them if they knew how to have safe sex with female partners, if they used protection, and if not, why.

Sex education is failing to teach teenage girls about safe lesbian sex
(Picture: METRO/MylesGoode)

‘What surprised us was their overall lack of knowledge when it came to safe sex practices with female partners,’ said study co-author Jennifer Wolowic. ‘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.’

Understandable, really. It’s hard enough asking questions in your sex education class – having to out yourself in the progress just to get teachers to give you relevant information makes things even harder.

The researchers found that lack of knowledge was the main reason for teenage girls limited use of dental dams and other protection methods, followed by concerns over loss of pleasure.

How to stay safe when you're a woman having sex with another woman

  • Use dental dams when giving and receiving oral
  • Don’t share sex toys, or if you do, add a fresh condom before using on each partner
  • Use gloves if you’d like to manually stimulate someone else and will then touch yourself (and change gloves in between)
  • If you also have sex with men, use a condom.
  • If it all feels like a load of faff, make sure that you’re getting regular sexual health checks, and make sure all sexual partners are doing the same. It’s important.

‘Participants told us, they “literally had never heard of dental dams,” or thought STIs weren’t a concern when having sex with girls,’ explains Jennifer. ‘Of those who knew about protective barriers, many said using protection made sex awkward or less pleasurable, and so they left them out during sex.’

‘Add to that a lack of information about where to get dental dams or how to make them, and it’s easy to understand why barrier use is so low among lesbian and bisexual girls,’ added Michele Ybarra, the study’s principal investigator.

The study highlights that sex education is still limited, still continuing to focus on the practicalities of heterosexual sex and sex for the purposes of reproduction, rather than acknowledging in detail the needs of women having sex with women.

More: Sex

Add in the lack of readily available dental dams in your average shop, the silence around protection methods in popular culture (have you ever seen someone whip out a dental dam on TV?), and the lack of advancements in making dental dams more appealing and easy to use, and it’s no wonder that so many lesbian and bisexual women are having unsafe sex.

‘Young people need accurate sexual health information, but sex education has traditionally focused on heterosexual sex,’ said UBC nursing professor Elizabeth Saewyc. ‘Our findings suggest we need to create more inclusive curriculum to help lesbian and bisexual girls have the knowledge they need to make healthy sexual decisions.’

Where to get dental dams:

While dental dams should be available in most pharmacies and supermarkets, they’re not. Instead, try these options.

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