Things you may not have learned in sex-ed but should definitely know

An introduction to Queer-inclusive sexual health 

There were likely gaps in your sex-ed.
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For almost two decades, elementary and secondary school students in Ontario were learning from a sexual-education curriculum that hadn’t been updated since 1998.

Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005; in 2012, Ontario became the first province in Canada to recognize gender identity in its human rights legislation, the Ontario Human Rights Code. Needless to say, teaching a sex-ed curriculum from 1998 didn’t match the progress being made for Queer folks in Canada.

In 2015, Ontario’s Liberal government introduced a new and more inclusive sex-ed curriculum, one which discussed gender identity, masturbation, and consent. That curriculum was scrapped by the then-new Progressive Conservative government in 2018, only to be replaced a year later by a nearly-identical revised curriculum—with the requirement that school boards allow parents to exempt their children from certain lessons and content.

Across Canada, students are being taught different sex-ed curricula in every province and territory. Additionally, there’s little to no guarantee that every topic mandated by curricula is being taught by every teacher charged with sex-ed.

All of this is to say that, if you grew up in Canada, the information you learned about sexual health could be drastically different from what someone else who lived across the country was taught. Most university-age Canadians likely have gaps in their sex-ed education, many of which exclude Queer experiences.

In an effort to provide anyone whose sex-ed may have been lacking with a starting point to fill in these gaps, I’ve assembled a short list of things that—whether you identify as LGBTQIA2S+ or not—you should know about sexual health.

Debunking the G-spot

The Grafenberg spot, or G-spot, is an area inside the vagina that, when stimulated sexually, may lead to orgasm. However, it’s not actually a distinct part of a person with a vagina’s anatomy—rather, it’s a part of their clitoral network. In other words, when the G-spot is stimulated, what’s actually being stimulated is part of the clitoris, which is much larger than the external tip located at the top of the inner labia.

Because of this, there’s no guaranteed exact location on every person with a vagina where you can internally stimulate the clitoris. If you’re trying to find it, on yourself or a partner, the best place to start is an inch or so inside the vaginal opening, on the upper vaginal wall.

It’s also important to note, though, that not all people with a G-spot orgasm from vaginal stimulation alone. In fact, a 2017 study reported that only about 18 per cent of people with vaginas achieved orgasm from strictly penetration. If you feel better with hands, toys, or mouths involved, that’s perfectly normal.

There are more barrier contraceptives than the external condom

Yes, sex between someone with sperm and someone with eggs may run the risk of pregnancy, and that same risk isn’t applicable to sex between two cisgender gay men. But sex between people with the same or similar genitalia still has the potential danger of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and using the appropriate barrier contraceptive is important for sex between anyone who has the potential to spread or contract an STI.

For penises, there’s the external condom—something almost everyone is familiar with. What you may not know is they’re also good to use on sex toys if you’re concerned about the material or just want to be sure it’s always clean. External condoms can be used for vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

There are also internal condoms, which can be placed inside the vagina or anus to provide protection during intercourse. If you’re using an internal condom anally, there are a few extra steps you need to take to be safe and comfortable. The unique benefit of an external condom is that the part of the condom that rests outside of the body provides extra barrier coverage of the surrounding area.

Barriers you might not be familiar with—at least in a sexual context—are gloves and finger cots. These can be used any time you want to avoid touching someone’s genitals directly, getting bodily fluids on your hands, or just to make clean-up easier. They are good for vaginal or anal fingering, clitoral stimulation, and hand-jobs.

Finally, there’s the dental-dam: a sheet that can be used during cunnilingus and analingus to prevent the sharing of bodily fluids and reduce skin-to-skin contact during oral sex.

Penis-in-vagina sex isn’t all there is

Sex-ed often puts a huge emphasis on cisgender, heteronormative sex—penetrative sex between a man with a penis and a woman with a vagina. This can be invalidating for people who engage in Queer sex.

Sex can mean something different to everyone. For some, sex may involve orgasms; for others, it may not. Penetration, while touted as the be-all-end-all of sex in many contexts, is far from necessary if it’s not something that’s important to you or your partner.

What’s important is that you feel safe, supported, and validated during sex and that everyone participating can consent or not consent with confidence and clear-headedness. Taking the time to self-define what sex means to you, and to engage in conversations about what sex means to your partner, is the most important part of sex—not what it looks like.

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