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generation

It's a Powerful Thing

Earlier this week, in the context of another conversation, one of our users at Scarleteen mentioned that her feelings on abortion had changed to a negative when she learned that her mother's pregnancy had been unplanned, and that her mother considered abortion. She said that upset her, because she really liked existing. She did say she was still pro-choice, but her sentiment bothered me all the same. Some of why it bothered me was political, and also about the work that I do and have done. But in thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that the ways it bothered me most were intensely personal.

The truth is, I envy her. A lot. I envy she was able to have a discussion in which her mother made clear she had the right to choose and she chose to remain pregnant and parent her. She wasn't forced, she wasn't pressured, she didn't do what she did because it was the only thing she could do without risking her life, her health, being locked away or hidden or committing a crime. She chose. S

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Why Sex Education is So Important

This is a guest entry from Dangerous Lilly for the month-long blogathon to help raise awareness and financial support for Scarleteen!

At 15, I was still scared of boys, sort of.

Sure I’d “date” them, and yeah I’d make out with them, but everything else? Terrified. It was because I knew next to nothing about boys, sex, *whispers* penises, and all that good stuff. You learned about sex in one of three places: 6th/7th grade so-called-sex-ed lectures; your equally uninformed friends; your parents (so. mortifying.).

Oh, ’92. So good, so innocent, so…awkward. Way back in 1992, SimCity still had copyright codes hidden in black & white pixelated jumbles in a booklet that required a piece of see-through red plastic to enable viewing of text – without it, you were struck with natural disasters every 10 minutes. Oregan Trail was still fun, sorta, if you didn’t mind the thyphoid. The internet? Did not exist as far as we were concerned. We still used the freaking 30-some volume encyclopedia in ha

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Building Bridges: Sexual Orientation Shifts

Time for another installment of Building Bridges, where we facilitate, then publish a conversation between two people in different life stages who have something with gender, sexuality and/or relationships in common. This time, our intergenerational pair is two women who have had their sexual orientation and identity shift for them during the course of their lives.

Amy & Candice: Shifting Sexual Orientation

Amy, 24: I came out as a lesbian at 14 and was, as I call it, "a Professional Gay" for a long time. I interned for activist organizations, ran the GSA at my high school, got a scholarship from a local LGBT organization for my activism and went on to a women's college where I eventually became co-chair of the LGBT organization on campus. I was, as a friend once said "her definition of gay."

Looking back, I struggled with liking guys for a long time, which sounds so backwards in the way that people think of sexual orientation transitions. I felt a strong connection and loyalty to th

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Building Bridges: Childhood Sexual Abuse

We hear a lot about generational divides. What we hear much less about are the bridges: how people of different generations can and do connect; how we can support and help one another and each offer the other things of great value. Just as often as a given experience, or even life as a whole, is different for people of one generation and those of another, there are also some things that are or have been the same, and all have our own wisdom to share, whatever our age may be.

People of different generations are not incapable of connecting or understanding each other, despite the way so much media can often make it sound that way, or the despite day-to-day frustrations and challenges we have probably all experienced with one another when trying to connect.

Often I am asked to explain things about one generation to another, illustrating differences as well as common ground to each. I often find myself telling people of one age group how to try and better understand the other; making app

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New Series: Would Love Your Help!

I'd like to start a new series at Scarleteen to address some unique first-person experiences while also looking at generational differences and similarities, divides and bridges. All too often, people with shared experiences but of different ages talk past or over each other; have a hard time connecting and seeing where they connect, where they don't and landing in a place where we can all respect each other's experiences, no matter how different we may be.

Ideally, how I'd like this to go is to get two people of different generations -- one under 25, one over 40 -- for each of the following themes/experiences in the list below. Rather than myself or other staff asking the questions or leading the topic, I'd like each of those two people to write out five questions for the other, then each answer the questions they were asked, adding more if needed during that back-and-forth conversation, and we'll edit it all together into something polished and cohesive.

What's the point? First to

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What I Really, Really Want for My 40th Birthday

You probably already know I'm the founder and executive director of Scarleteen. (If not, hello! Lovely meeting you.) You might not know that on Sunday I'm turning 40.

I don't normally ask the internet for birthday prezzies, but 40 is a big freaking birthday. When I was the age of most of the young people I counsel now, I had it in my head I wouldn't live past 36. I've become the adult I didn't even think I would be around to be. When someone asked me what I wanted last week for my birthday, what I felt I really wanted, in my heart of hearts, was the kind of world I'd truly prefer to live in and want for young people, particularly around sexuality, their bodies and their relationships. I want the world I've been working very hard to try and create. Big birthdays deserve big gifts, right?

Of course, no one can just snap their fingers and give that to me. But there is something small each of you can do to plant some seeds for it, and I'm going to go ahead and be a noodge and ask you for

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What Do You Need to Speak and Feel Heard?

Maybe I'm just being optimistic, but lately I feel like I have been noticing more people who really want to hear and know what young people think. Not who want to assume, presume, project or decide what you think, but who actually want to ask you and hear what you have to say about yourselves for yourselves.

If I'm not delusional in noticing this (always a possibility), I don't have to tell you this is obviously very good news.

One of the common complaints we hear a lot at Scarleteen from young people is how often you have to put up with older adults out and about in the world saying things about you that you don't think are true, or making broad generalizations about all teens or twentysomethings that don't accurately represent the vast diversity among you. And that last thing you need me to tel you is that that can be particularly problematic when it comes to talk that has anything to do with sex or sexuality.

Of course, one of the challenges when adults ask to hear what you have

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You're Not Superman, You Know

It's amazing how well my generation - those in their late teens and early 20's - can distance themselves from topics that have everything to do with us. For example, driving fatalities and alcohol abuse. It's staggering the number of teens who die from car accidents related to substance abuse, as well as those who spend their high school and college years with a beer bottle in hand.

It's even scarier to look at how many teenagers don't know BASIC FACTS about sex and sexuality. This is something I've known for a long time as a Scarleteen staff member, but it doesn't change reality.

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The Road Back From Whatever

While out of town this weekend, between two plane trips and a couple late evenings up reading, I started and polished off Elliott Currie's The Road to Whatever: Middle-Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence in very short order.

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