Servicing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community

OUT provides direct health services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, MSM, sex workers, and injecting drug users, including HIV testing, counselling, treatment and general lifestyle advice and support.

OUT has been in existence for more than 21 years and is dedicated to the building of healthy and empowered LGBT communities in South Africa and internationally, while reducing hetrosexism and homophobia in society.

The dire state of sexual and reproductive health education in schools

According to the UK-based charity, Avert, it is estimated that in 2016, only 5% of schools in South Africa provided comprehensive sexual education. In 2017, 10.9% of births were among girls aged 10-19, according to Statistics SA. This information points to lack of empowerment around sex education and that young people are not being taught about safe sex practices.

Kim Windvogel, director of Freedom of Education Motivates Empowerment (Femme) Projects, a black, queer and woman-owned organisation that runs comprehensive sexual reproductive health and rights workshops with youth in the Western Cape, says: “Young people need to be informed about the things that society exposes them to. Parents think that children are only exposed to what [they] curate for them and this is not the case.”

They add: “We live in a hypersexualised world and if we narrow sexual and reproductive health to comprehensive sexual education, which it is not, but if you focus on that part of the curriculum, it is there to inform children.” It speaks to the misconception, they say, that sexuality education supports sex and the hypersexualisation of young people, which is not the case. 

Gaps in sex education

With South Africa having one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, education is often directed at HIV-prevention, leaving out knowledge about sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Current curriculums show there is also limited education in schools around safe sex that is not heterosexual.  LGBT+ youth are not taught how to practice safe sex, nor about hormone replacement therapy, in the case of transgender students. 

‘Not an encouragement but an information session’

Sex education needs to be inclusive and extensive, Windvogel says: “If you encourage kids to abstain from sex, it means you’ve lost half of the room. They’re not listening anymore because a lot of kids are having sex and experimenting with their bodies.” 

Teachers too don’t feel comfortable teaching pupils about sex and sexuality. “They circulate bad truths or myths without really knowing the proper information and if you don’t have proper information, and [are] living in world of secrecy and being shamed [because] of [the] choices you’ve made, you’re not going to get the healthcare you deserve and won’t know what’s good for you.”

They add: “The curriculum isn’t that bad before the issues with abstinence. It’s not always the content, it’s the teachers [who] perpetuate the myth of virginity and bring in their own religion and their own thoughts. They don’t speak about masturbation and self-love. There’s a lot to be done,  teachers need to conscientious to not be ashamed to talk to young people about sex because it’s not encouragement, it’s an information session.”

Article by Clio Koopman, republished courtesy of Health-e News.

 

Services
Have you been threatened, hit, raped or had your property damaged or stolen because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI)? Then you have been a victim of a hate crime.
OUT offers exciting training to mainstream service providers and other interested parties. The training assists individuals to understand themselves as sexual beings.
Currently OUT distributes safer sex packs to a range of venues in Tshwane that are utilised by gay men and lesbian women. These packs also include responsible sex messaging, appropriate barrier methods and lube.
OUT's Engage Men’s Health project offers free and confidential sexual health services to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).