Practicing safer sex is important for your health, whatever your sexual orientation, because Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) don’t discriminate. Anyone who’s sexually active is at risk of catching an STI, especially if you don’t use protection. But having safer sex can be especially challenging for some members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The issue is the lack of inclusive sex education in schools. In fact, only 29 U.S. states have compulsory sex education, and a recent study by LGBTQ+ education activists GLSEN highlights that just 5 percent of LGBTQ+ students saw any representation in their sex-ed classes. In the U.K., Stonewall found just one in five pupils has been taught about safe sex in same-sex relationships.
This means when two people who have vulvas engage in sexual activities, for example, the odds are they didn’t learn in school about the importance of using dental dams or vaginal condoms to protect themselves from STIs. Others might question the need to use condoms at all if pregnancy is not a concern. You can read our LGBTQ+ birth control guide here.
To make safer sex the norm for everyone, we spoke to medical experts to find out exactly what LGBTQ+ people need to know about STIs, along with best practice for sharing sex toys and why it’s so important to have an open conversation with your partner about your sexual health.