How Age of Consent Laws Affect LGBT Teens

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The age of consent is the age that a person can legally agree to have sex. A person over the age of consent who has sex with someone under the age of consent can be charged with a crime for having sex with the younger person, regardless of whether or not the younger person agrees to have sex.

American Age of Consent Laws

The age of consent varies between states and countries. The website Sxetc has a feature which gives information on American age of consent laws and general sex laws, by state. In some states, laws are different depending on the gender of the people involved.

The Canadian Experience

The back story is that for over 100 years, Canada's age of consent for vaginal sex was 14. On the other hand, until the late 1980s' the age of consent for anal sex was 21. In 1988, that was lowered to 18.

On May 1st, 2008, the age of consent for vaginal sex was raised to 16, but the age of consent for anal sex was not lowered from 18. This upset many people in the gay community who viewed this as discriminatory and pointed out that under this law two 17-year-olds having anal sex could be charged with a crime.

Others worried that despite "close in age" laws that don't make it a crime for two teens to have vaginal or oral sex, many young people would be confused by the new legislation, and would not seek help when needed.

Canadian age of consent laws have sparked a lot of controversy partly because of their uneven application.

The Impact of Age of Consent Laws on LGBT Teens

Age of consent laws are designed to protect teens from adult predators. Sometimes they can end up punishing kids in non-coercive situations. It is really important for LGBT teens, who already face hurdles when it comes to their sexuality to know the law and how it affects them.

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