Making an IMPACT on Sex Education

Leading the conversation in sexual education and health.

Sex education, and the lack thereof, is a highly scrutinized topic in America’s educational systems. Some school systems avoid the topic altogether, others focus on the purely biological aspect of sex, and the rest simply preach abstinence. The lack of education constitutes a curiosity among the younger generation as they search for knowledge that cannot be provided to them elsewhere. According to Gayle Rubin’s Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality, “sexually active young people are frequently incarcerated in juvenile homes, or otherwise punished for their ‘precocity.'” As the younger generation takes education into their own hands, unsafe sex is a likely result.

Aside from a lack of heterosexual sex education, homosexual sex education is practically nonexistent. Thanks to the efforts of Northwestern University, however, a program was created in order to give LGBT youth a place to seek information. The IMPACT Program seeks to “improve the health of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and to increase understanding of the development of sexual orientation and gender identity.” The IMPACT Program studies, in both adolescents and young adults, the resiliency, sexual health, mental health, and substance use. With their findings, IMPACT provides information about the sexual and mental well being of members of the LGBT community. Established in 2009 by Dr. David Cella, the program is housed in the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, based in the Department of Medical Social Sciences. According to IMPACT’s website, “in 2013, IMPACT began hosting the nation’s first clinical psychology internship track focused on LGBT health, to lead the way in training future leaders in culturally competent health research, education, and clinical care.” An introduction to the IMPACT Program can be watched here:

Found on the IMPACT Program’s website is a space specifically designed for all things Sexual Education related. There are videos and articles posted on IMPACT’s blog that helps provide sexual health education and information for all individuals. The IMPACT Program also has their own channel on Vimeo, a website for housing collections of videos, which features all of the videos that can be found on their blog. These blog posts and videos provide information for specific gender identities, as well as general sexual health information important for all sexually active youth to know.

There are videos designed for each facet of the LGBT spectrum. For example, there are videos for males, such as “How do you use a condom the right way?”

On a more personal note, it is astonishing to me that a video such as the one above was created by the IMPACT Program, which is intended for those of the LGBT community. This is firsthand knowledge that any sexually active male should have, in order so that he can practice safe sex. This video makes it clear that the IMPACT Program recognizes that this information, even something as seemingly simple as using a condom, is important for all males to know – not even just gay males. So, the question is posed – why isn’t this video shown in school when discussing safe sex and condoms? This video is a great example of the type of education that should be presented to all youth during sex education.

Of course, there are videos for females, as well. This “Women’s Sexual Health” video demonstrates ways to protect yourself during sex, regardless of your partner’s gender. There are also videos about HIV and AIDS Awareness, Transgender Individuals, and Oral Sex. Needless to say, there is a video for everyone.

The IMPACT Program is starting the conversation that should have already been started. Although IMPACT focuses on LGBT individuals, it makes the point of producing and sharing useful information for all sexually active individuals, regardless of gender or sexual identity. Because of the open-minded nature of the LGBT community, their sexual education program includes information for all individuals. While it might be a nightmare to some, the truth is that the LGBT community is paving the way for proper sexual education for everyone.