It’s no surprise that most adolescents aren’t totally clued up when it comes to sex. Especially when the Internet is full of never-ending questions about the myths of sexuality, along with porn, which only glamorizes sex without showing the realities.
What’s more surprising is that a new study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, points out that many teen girls who identify as lesbian or bisexual are unaware of the risk of getting STIs during sex with other girls.
Crazy, right? Yeah, we know.
The reason behind this could be the fact that today’s sex education is a tad (okay, more than a tad) too heteronormative. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lesbian and bisexual women face a much higher chance of contracting particular diseases than heterosexual women, highlighting the importance of inclusive sex education.
The latest study was led by researchers from the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in California and involved researchers from the University of British Columbia and the City University of New York. The team conducted the research using online focus groups that involved a total of 160 lesbian and bisexual girls aged between 14 and 18 years old. Moderators posed questions to the groups to initiate discussions and the teens' answers were later analyzed.
The researchers found that the girls were generally reluctant to use protection during sex as they were concerned it would reduce pleasure. While they were often aware that those in long-term relationships should have STI checks, they also thought that girls were more likely to be free from STIs than men, so having sex with them was safer.
Jennifer Wolowic, a youth health researcher from the University of British Columbia and co-author of the study shared that the team was surprised by the participants' lack of knowledge when it came to practicing safe sex with female partners. This was particularly due to heterosexual-focused sex ed programs.
"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," Wolowic said in a statement, emphasizing why inclusion is incredibly important.
What’s more, past research has shown that lesbian and bisexual girls actually face a higher chance of teenage unplanned pregnancies, often because they are less likely to use contraceptives. This, along with the latest research, highlights the importance of sex education and the need to update it.