This is a list of main items I believe Teens (and Parents) Need To Hear About Sex:
Sexuality is fluid
Gender is a spectrum
Sexual health is health
All bodies are beautiful
Masturbation is healthy
Nudity is natural
Sexuality is more than sex
Consent is mandatory
Virginity is a construct
Porn is not sex ed
Pleasure is valid
Birth control is your choice
My education in sexuality studies has made each of these items clear to me. If you’re a parent now and you haven’t gone back to school to study sexuality-related topics, some of these might be a surprise to you. As a person who works with coaching clients on their sex and relationship concerns, these items help folks have a fulfilling sex life.
When I teach my students and clients these things, often they say something along the lines of, “you know, I kinda knew this but it’s nice to hear it from someone who knows.” People walk around with all kinds of misinformation and miseducation that deserve to be corrected.
I think I even have blog posts about some of these points as well. I know I’ve addressed the topic in my book “Read Me: A Parental Primer for “The Talk.” I may have also gone off on the “Virginity is a social construct” point a few times on Quora too.
My point is, our understanding of many of these items in that above list has changed even in the last couple of decades. Look at topics like Consent and what has changed there too. The #MeToo movement was a watershed moment that opened many eyes to behavior that was straight-up abuse.
Our education about Gender has changed too. For example, the first time I learned that gender was more than just “male” and “female” was at the beginning of my sexuality studies, ca. 2009. Back then the conversation was about gender being 4 components – identity, expression, “biological sex”, and sexual orientation.
Now in 2020, gender is understood to be
- Gender Identity
- Gender Expression
- Anatomical Sex
- Gender Assigned at Birth
- Sexual Attraction
- Romantic Attraction
Folks think that talking about gender “confuses” or “harms” children. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think the antiquated, binary thinking we learned and never updated is more harmful.
Here is a TED Talk “the way we think about biological sex is wrong” that is really REALLY worth watching.
Where does the anger come from?
I have to call this out: People were really upset about the Gender bit in this list, More than any other of the 11 points in the post. Folks wrote to my collaborator (a pediatrician in practice in NYC) and told her that she didn’t know what she was talking about and many other choice, angry words. I’m curious what authority they have to claim that?
Y’all are the best
My followers didn’t come up with any of that nonsense. And I’m grateful. So grateful. I see you. Y’all are humble and willing to look inside. Willing to overcome your fear. You know no one else is going to do it for you nor have these talks with your kids better than you. And you’re responsible and respectful. I’m so thankful.
We are not even remotely done with this education. There is so much more to learn about sexuality and it really takes a mature person to realize that the more you learn, the more there is to know. What items do you think teens and parents need to hear about sex? Drop it into the comments below.
We change and evolve as we learn and grow in our thinking. I’m so grateful to be on this journey with you. We deserve accurate information about sexuality and sexual health. They are important and life-changing.