Our sexual orientation is the direction of our sexual feelings. Contrary to previous definitions, it is not a simple binary, but actually exists on a spectrum. Sexuality is not fixed in all people, but rather, is fluid, and may change over time. As definitions of varying sexual orientations shift, more terms may be added, but to date there are at least 20 recognized types of sexual orientations. In 1949, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey developed a 7 point scale to identify sexual orientation, and found based on interview data that most people were not exclusively heterosexual or homosexual, but in fact fell somewhere in the middle of scale. Aside from who we are attracted to, studies of gay and straight individuals found no other difference in the overall psychological assessment of those studied. This prompted the removal of homosexuality as a mental illness in the DSM.
The HIV pandemic in the 1980s was especially detrimental to the gay community in the United States and over 36 million people have dies of the disease worldwide. New medical advances have made the virus less deadly, and many HIV+ people live relatively normal lives with the help of medical intervention. Policies around LGBTQIA+ rights are often being challenged by conservative politicians, and hate crimes still remain prevalent based on sexual orientation. Switching the script of heteronormativity in sex education to inclusive content will help everyone learn more about the variety of sexual orientations. By doing so, a more accepting climate for queer and questioning youth is possible.