Research finds that some lesbian and bisexual girls are unaware of the dangers of catching STIs from other girls.
According to a new revealing study, most queer girls don’t realise that STIs can be caught from other girls, which potentially calls for improved sex education classes.
The research was conducted by the U.S. non-profit group Centre for Innovative Public Health Research, along with the University of British Columbia and City University of New York.
For the study, researchers interviewed 160 cisgender girls in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 18 who identified as either lesbian, bi or another sexual minority. Researchers found that one of the main reasons for their limited use of dental dams was due to a lack of knowledge.
Jennifer Wolowic, study co-author and UBC youth health researcher, said:
What surprised us was their overall lack of knowledge when it came to safe sex practices with female partners. 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.
Some participants to the survey said they were aware of forms of protection, such as dental dams, yet were unaware of where they could purchase them. Whilst male condoms are widely available, with some pharmacies also selling female condoms, the sale of dental dams seems to usually be online.
The results of the study highlights an important need for an more inclusive sex education program, as it seems to cater to straight students. Elizabeth Saewyc, director of the UBC School of Nursing and co-author of the study, said:
Young people need accurate sexual health information, but sex education has traditionally focused on heterosexual sex. 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.
The study ‘Why Girls Choose Not to Use Barriers to Prevent Sexually Transmitted Infection During Female-to-Female Sex’ was published in the the Journal of Adolescent Health in December.