In my undergraduate biology course I was required to do a presentation on a human sexuality topic. I chose to present a PowerPoint on transexualism. I chose the topic because I did not understand how a person could not identify with their biological sex. Honestly, I remember thinking it was strange, weird, and not normal. My opinions and values on transsexuals have changed drastically since I first came into contact with the concept, but it was a process that included educating myself, meeting transsexual individuals, and learning the unique language of this community.
The feelings that I experienced are similar to my experiences with different ethnic, cultural, and religious groups that I have not had much exposure to in my lifetime. Unfortunately, many people feel more comfortable discussing cultural, ethnic, and religious differences than sexuality differences. The lack of awareness, language, and interactions with different sexual groups makes it difficult for people to fully understand the diverse sexuality spectrum. Colleges in the United States place a large emphasis on the importance of study abroad programs, and the rate of American students studying abroad continues to rise (http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/525200/ and http://diverseeducation.com/article/11974/). The purposes of these programs are to broaden the students’ experiences and allow them to expand their understanding of the world, ultimately facilitating personal growth of the student (http://www.widener.edu/academics/collegesandschools/artsandsciences/humanities/modernlanguages/studyabroad/).
The use of experiential learning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experiential_education) to educate students on culture, religion, and ethnicity would be useful to educate students about sexual minority groups. Providing students with an opportunity to meet sexually diverse individuals is an effective way to start a much-needed conversation. A large amount of money is invested to ensure students the opportunity to learn outside their own environment. Individuals who belong to a sexual minority group are everywhere and have voices that would love to be heard. As an educator, we need to provide students with an opportunity to interact with what they are learning, hear personal stories, engage in dialogue, and ask questions (http://peninsulapress.com/2012/03/05/mountain-view-schools-team-up-with-lgbtq-education-group/). It is the educator’s role to give the students the resources they need to understand the material. I was lucky to have experiences to interact with transsexualism, so that my narrow-minded viewpoints could be expanded to create more accurate opinions and values. My experience in the classroom where I was able to hear the story of a transsexual and ask questions was the moment that I decided that my opinions and values were uninformed. Let’s give this opportunity to our students.