The Sex Ed You Didn’t Learn in School, and Youtube Would Prefer It Stays That Way
Censorship isn’t an equation. It doesn’t have a formula to follow. The task is left up to whims of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). What content is safe? What content is indecent? We all have varying answers to these questions.
Remaining objective can be difficult with a topic like sex education. There are a plethora of types of sex ed; a whole university course wouldn’t even cover everything. For media companies like Youtube, the issue isn’t about fostering a space where comprehensive education can thrive. Instead, it’s about narrowing the likelihood of exposure to vital sex education and discouraging creators from making educational content.
Why and How?
Content creation is a full-time job. For many educators, it is their only job and for some it is a needed boost to their livelihood. Any creators who focus on sex education are familiar with the term: demonetization, when a video gets either taken down completely, or Youtube decides not to allow ads to play on a creator’s videos, effectively removing the money they would and should earn.
In the early days of Youtube, it was a place where all types of creativity could thrive. Since entering the mainstream, many believe that they have more or less sold themselves to advertisers and their rainbows-and-unicorns vision of ideal content.
Advertisers like — don’t want “sexual content”. It doesn’t matter if that content is empowering and educating on a subject that most of us are dreadfully ill informed about. While videos about sex education aren’t violating Youtube’s Community Guidelines, they are still censored. Many creators have found that they are still widely supported by their viewers, even if Youtube does their best to censor them. Companies like Patreon help creators continue doing their important work.
Who is affected?
We all have a sex ed curriculum in school. Some of us were taught the bare minimum, some of us were taught abstinence. Exclusively heterosexual and often religiously motivated, it’s no surprise that we seek out better information. A more intersectional, inclusive education literally saves lives.
I’m a straight woman and I am still discovering information that I should’ve been taught. I cannot imagine how it feels to be further erased and deemed unworthy of education. This is the reality for LGBT+ and queer people. Creators like Watts the Safe Word and Sexplanations have been an outlet of empowerment.
A Double Standard
Censoring vital educational content is a massive problem. Confounding the problem, are ads from Alliance For Freedom, a conservative and actively anti-LGBT organization. Writer and Creator Amanda Holland tweeted about the ads:
“Hi @YouTube. Just wanted to let you know that some of the young kids coming to my channel for support are getting anti-LGBT ads. I’ve played the demonetization dance and lost money in the process, but these ads are unacceptable. Please fix this.”
Another conservative organization, Prager U, also displays ads with no hassle, and often before videos created by LGBT+ people. This behavior, if not supported by YouTube, at the very least shows a lack of accountability and care for their users.
The best thing we can do is support. Whether by monetary means, spreading the word, liking their videos, commenting, or subscribing. It can seem like whenever a platform becomes popular, marginalized voices are erased. The worst thing we can do is stay silent. Watch, learn, and hold YouTube accountable.