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Gender & Sexuality Inclusivity


Gender & Sexuality Inclusivity

Gender & sexuality are foundational to one's identity 

Programs, institutions, and systems must be intentional about welcoming gender and sexuality diversity among youth by providing welcoming spaces for authentic expression. Gender and sexuality inclusivity acknowledges the foundational nature of gender and sexuality to one’s identity and the oppression that female-identifying, female-coded, nonbinary, and individuals in the LGBTQ community face.

Youth Voice: Sex Education

Overall, youth are not satisfied with the sex education they receive in school, as they discussed a lack of resources in class, the exclusion of LGBTQ+ voices and needs, and a focus on preventing harmful behaviors as opposed to promoting healthy behaviors. At ward meetings, youth called for reforms such as “understand[ing] consent + safe sex,” “better sexual education resources,” a decrease in sexually transmitted infections, and “inclusivity for LGBTQIA+ youth”. Teaching consent in sex education helps young people understand relationship dynamics, individual autonomy, and ethics of how people relate to one another, empowering them to make healthy decisions relating to sex and relationships. Including LGBTQ+ topics within sex education ensures that all youth receive accurate and relevant information they can use to make the best decisions for themselves and fosters understanding and knowledge among all youth. There are several disparities in outcomes of sexual assault and harassment between male-identifying and female-identifying, nonbinary, LGBTQ+ youth, which are further exacerbated by racial and ethnic intersections (Centers for Disease Control, 2018a; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019). There is evidence that consent-based sex education and LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education are becoming more popular, as 32 states and the District of Columbia introduced 79 sex education bills in 2019 alone, most of which touch on topics of consent, healthy relationships, and LGBTQ inclusivity (Guttmacher Institute, 2018b). Further, sex education that is inclusive to LGBTQ+ youth and centers consent is popular among youth. In addition to the youth at the ward meetings who discussed it, a survey by researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that 65% of young adults wished they learned about relationships in sex education (Tatter, 2018). 


The gender and sexual identities that are salient to youth are excluded from larger society in favor of heterosexual, cisgender, masculine norms and expectations. As a result, resources, social capital, and power are concentrated among heterosexual, cisgender men that are not representative of the city.
The invisibility and erasure of LGBTQ youth and young women and girls is detrimental to individual wellbeing and hinders community building. When LGBTQ youth and young women and girls are not seen for who they are or feel pressured to hide themselves, they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.
The lack of understanding between adults and youth regarding gender and sexuality upholds oppressive systems of homophobia, transphobia, and sexism that further oppress and disenfranchise LGBTQ youth and women and girls.


Youth are knowledgeable on their lived experiences and facets of their identities related to gender and sexuality. Adults must leverage this knowledge to learn from youth and inform decision making processes.
The visibility of out LGBTQ youth and young women and girls living authentically and wielding social power creates a welcoming, empowering atmosphere for LGBTQ youth and women while enhancing the larger community. The act of being unapologetically visible promotes youths’ rights to self-define and say who they are on their own terms.

Learn more about the Gender and Sexuality Inclusivity priority starting on page 23 of the downloadable report.