How does sexual education curriculum leave out the racial, immigrant and class perspectives, as well as sexual orientation and gender (particularly trans and gender non-conforming folks), and how do you work to change that?
A lot of the work that’s been pushed in sexual education curriculum on the national level has been very safe. And what I mean by that is that it’s focused on anatomy and physiology, so (1) it perpetuates the gender binary, which is a problem because we know that gender extends beyond man and woman, and (2) it’s really scientific. The literature focuses on how the body works and how pregnancy works, and while there’s nothing wrong with this – it is important for people to understand this – not all bodies work in the same way. Intersex bodies are excluded, genders expressed outside the binary are removed, the historical legacies of birth control – and how Latina women died during birth control pill trials – aren’t discussed. If you’re going to do comprehensive sex education, you need to incorporate how to interact with the police, communities that are queer – none of this happens.
To fix this, we need to ensure that lesson plans are created with young people involved, so they can dictate what they wish to learn and how they want to learn it. But the plans must also be fluid, because what works for Utah won’t work in Chicago, and what works there won’t be a good fit for Atlanta.
How do you see your work as helping to crush the patriarchy, and other oppressive systems?
Creating a society where we are all able to be our full sexual selves is imperative to change. Ignoring sexual components to movement-making toward equity and justice, I think, is an injustice, because the pleasure of Black and Latina women is never included; it’s never considered. As such, choosing to include it is revolutionary in ways people don’t imagine. I find it’s a totally different, yet crucial, way of imagining and challenging sexism and misogyny in our community. It’s like the undercover secret we all have but don’t want to engage with. It’s sex work, and people don’t like talking about it, even though most of us have sexual experience, some that we own and others that were given to us without our permission. I hope doing this publicly can inspire others to do it, too, in their own way. After all, it’s the secret weapon in the movement.
Want more from Bianca? Follow the puertorriqueña on Twitter, and visit her website to read more about her work and find out where she’ll be speaking at next (hint: there’s a National Sex Ed Conference taking place in New Brunswick, NJ in December that you can go to and totally see her at!)