What’s wrong with the current health curriculum

There are many benefits to health classes. It is important for high schoolers to learn skills such as healthy communication and to be informed about drugs – and the health teachers are all amazing and teach the material well. We have extensive information on many health issues.

But, while we have been taught life skills such as portion control and healthy communication, there has been so much left out.

In all of my years of being in the LOSD, I have never been taught LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education. I’ve put condoms on my fingers and learned about the efficiency of the tens of female birth-control methods, but it’s all very heteronormative. I didn’t even know what a dental dam was until sophomore year. LGBTQ+ sex education is just as important as heterosexual sex education and needs to be taught in school.

Another issue with the cisgender/heterosexual only education in the health curriculum is the lack of intersex education. I learned more about intersexuality from the genetic mutations unit in biology than from the health curriculum (because I learned nothing about intersexuality from the health curriculum). And still, intersex students in our school are being deprived of education about their anatomy.

According to the CDC, Oregon is one of the highest scoring states for sex ed programs, next to California and New Jersey. I’m grateful to have one of the highest rated sex ed programs in America… but looking through the legal health curriculum standards, there was no mention of intersexuality or mandatory LGBTQ+ sex education (although kindergarteners are being taught about the gender spectrum now, which I think is really cool).

To understand the problem better, I interviewed some of the health teachers in our school. Mark Heimbuck has been teaching health for 17 years and told me about some of the changes that they are making. I was surprised to hear some of the things he told me about his health classes.

First, the health teachers have built a strong relationship with a recurring guest speaker. “Trystan [Reese] gives presentations that give definitions and talks to the students about [intersexuality]. After the speech the students talk about what they think and it is positive.”

Along with this, the health curriculum is constantly changing and evolving. “We look at [the state standards] each year, and review how we are covering it and if it is doing the job.”

After the recent change in health state standards, the health curriculum is getting even more LGBTQ+ inclusive and friendly.

Maybe if I had been born a year earlier I wouldn’t be writing this article. It is a pleasant surprise to see people’s views, and even the way health is taught to be changing- I just wish it happened sooner. I hope the 2023 class treasures this education the way I would have.