It’s common adult understanding that youth don’t know much about sexuality. Adults often reduce sexuality down to a taboo subject that only speaks of intercourse, safe sex or abstinence and neglects the complexities of other issues such as gender, orientation, sexual expression and consent — many of the topics that LGBTQ2+ youth have been discussing with each other. Often times, LGBTQ2+ topics and issues are left out of mainstream sex education curriculum leaving them with a lack of knowledge, a peer culture that hasn’t normalized these topics, and ultimately leaving the students with questions that they take to each other. With the help of the internet and the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances, LGBTQ2+ youth are increasingly more educated on the topic of gender and sexuality, than arguably, the predominantly heterosexual adults who teach them.
What They Didn’t Teach Us looks at what a sex education class would look like if LGBTQ+ youth were teaching it. Adults, and the audience, are asked to return to that time in their life when they got awkward, grossed out or full of giggles as their teacher began their introduction into human sexuality. Except this time, the youth also include topics like marriage equality, gender, pronouns, Two-Spirit, intersectionality and the story of a lonely Calgary bus driver who changed history for LGBTQ2+ individuals all across Canada. These youth are at the helm of the classroom and are determined to teach everyone what they didn’t cover in sex education.
The show features several youth including Sara M. “I think this show is important because it is really about learning and teaching. It’s about sex education in schools, education about LGBTQ2+ issues, teenagers having and sharing valuable perspectives, and more. I want this show to be an example of how everyone can learn something from every other person, no matter who they are. Learning can be vulnerable and that is scary, but it is so important to embrace that vulnerability and learn new information about the world and the people around you.”
The show was facilitated by local artist changemaker, Kevin Jesuino. “It’s interesting having to give up what I think I know after someone half my age schools me. We live in a culture where none of us adults received adequate sex education, yet it’s the adults having debates about what youth need — let alone what LGBTQ2+ youth need. This entire process has been guided by these youth. They called me out. They challenged me. They forced me to examine my structures. I hope each audience member takes something from this performance.”
Performances of What Didn’t They Teach Us: The Sex Education Project are open to anyone and runs at Western Canada High School from April 25-27 at 8pm with a Saturday April 27 matinee performance at 2pm. All tickets are Pay-What-You-Can and will go towards developing more LGBTQ2+ youth performances in Calgary. Tickets are available at the door or on Eventbrite. The space is wheelchair accessible.