To teachers and sex educators
Thank you for visiting this website. As a teacher or sex-educator, you can have a significant influence both on the lives of individuals and on awareness and understanding in society. We would like you to understand the value of incorporating asexuality into your course content. We also want to hear your views and would welcome any contribution you would like to make to this Wiki or the AVEN discussion forums.
At all levels, in schools and in postgraduate-level courses where it would be relevant, the provision and content of teaching about sexuality varies greatly. We are not arguing here for more widespread or in-depth teaching, although many of us think that would be valuable. In this letter we invite those of you who are teaching courses that include discussion of minority sexual orientations, to incorporate asexuality as such an orientation.
If the purpose of sexuality education is to help people come to understand their own sexuality and that of other members of society, it is important to represent as many perspectives as possible. The existence of people who do not experience sexual attraction, that is asexuals, is rarely acknowledged. This has two effects.
- There will be a small proportion of your students who suffer because they never relate to what you teach. This is particularly important for young people anticipating the development of their sexual selves, surrounded by friends who describe experiences they don’t understand, and often left wondering what is wrong with themselves. Everyone should know asexuality exists so if they think it is appropriate, they can identify in this way. The sexual orientations widely recognised by society today are hetero-, homo- and bisexuality. These identify people by the gender of person they are sexually attracted to and thus implicitly exclude people who don’t experience sexual attraction at all. For people who cannot attribute their lack of desire to a plausible cause such as a medical condition or abuse, this may lead to profound feelings of alienation. They may suffer from isolation in a society where they are surrounded by expressions of sexuality to which they do not relate. They may feel inadequate as they try to engage in relationships and find they cannot reciprocate the feelings of their partner. Knowledge of the existence of asexuality is empowering.
- The majority of students, once adult, find it very difficult to imagine that some people do not experience sexual attraction, and that this should not be seen as a disorder or problem. This leads to the stigmatisation of asexuals. In this way, the lack of sexual attraction which is not an intrinsic cause of distress, can become a cause of socially-imposed distress. A general awareness and understanding of asexuality would minimise this and ensure that asexuals are distinguished from those who suffer genuine sexual disorders.
Our goal is to improve the well-being of asexuals and we believe wider recognition of asexuality as a sexual orientation is necessary to achieve this. We hope you will contribute to this by incorporating asexuality in your teaching. This might be simply mentioning the existence of people who identify as asexuals, or it might involve including asexuality in an extended discussion of the concept of sexual orientations. Please do explore this site and the links to other resources and contact us if you have any questions or comments.