The virtual event is open to anyone passionate about including accurate information for LGBTQ youth in curricula

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

The National LGBTQ Task Force, last in Dallas in January for its five-day Creating Change conference, is back in town this weekend for a one-day, on-line, LGBTQ youth-led sex education conference. The Queer Not Fear — Sex Ed Advocacy for LGBTQ+ virtual conference takes place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. Although geared toward youth and aiming at school curricula, anyone may attend.

Organizer Taissa Morimoto said Texas is among at least 30 states that are required by law to teach abstinence-only sex education. “Most sex education curricula ignore the needs of LGBTQ youth by only discussing sexuality within the confines of heterosexual marriage,” she said.

Originally planned as a live and in-person event to have taken place at Resource Center, the conference was moved online once social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 began. Presentations and caucuses led by people based in Texas were scheduled, and presentations and interactive breakouts will still be featured using a variety of Zoom tools. Because moving the conference online allows more people to attend, Morimoto said about half the content will focus on Texas, but the rest may be applied more generally.

In addition, it will connect people from around the country who are passionate about changing sex ed policy to include giving accurate information to LGBTQ people.

Morimoto discussed how current sex education is irrelevant to LGBTQ youth and can actually be dangerous. Mentioning abstinence is the surest way to get young people to tune the instructor out, she said. It doesn’t work, and young people don’t believe it. And that teacher loses credibility for any accurate information that may be included.

Most sex ed programs leave out any contraceptive information. For gay youth, that means they don’t learn to protect themselves from exposure to HIV. So, a sex education program may actually endanger the lives of those it should be protecting.

Some programs that teach heterosexual sex as the norm cause trauma among LGBT youth by teaching them or at least implying that their sexuality is wrong or abnormal. And it teaches trans kids that they don’t even exist.

Students in school with no LGBTQ curricula or gay-straight alliances are more likely to feel unsafe.

Morimoto said, adding that “Schools with LGBTQ curricula experience less bullying.”

The video conference will include four presentations. Morning sessions are “Reproductive Justice” and “Sex Ed Laws and Policies,” presented by the Task Force and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to affirming that sexuality is a natural and healthy part of life.

“Abortion Access for Young People in Texas” will be presented by Jane’s Due Process, a network of attorneys who provide representation to minors without cost.

In the afternoon, Texas Freedom Network, an organization that works to protect religious freedom and defend civil liberties by countering the activities of the Christian right, will present “Teach the Truth: Fight for Comprehensive Sex Ed,” and Equality Texas will present “The Story of You: An Interactive Session on Crafting Your Personal Story.”

The conference will rotate between interactive time and presentations and between Zoom webinar and Zoom meeting.

To register for the conference, visit TheTaskForce.org.