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Preface: I was recently asked to participate in a blogathon to support Scarleteen, an online sex education forum for teens. I was flattered. I was humbled. I was a little queasy and had to breathe in a bag for a minute or 12. I decided to contribute the story of how I survived homophobic bullying thanks a single library book. I’m living proof that progressive sex education (no matter how small-scale) makes an enormous difference in the lives of the very young. It’s my hope that all who read my sarcastic, satirically-tinged autobiographical account will consider making an enormous difference by supporting Scarleteen.
"In this life, things are much harder than in the afterworld/ In this life, you’re on your own!" —Prince
High school is a laugh riot. It’s a jolly funhouse where the unpopular and the unusual are punished for their crimes against conformity with a topsy-turvyRead more...
This is a guest post from Dances With Engines as part of the month-long blogathon to help support Scarleteen!
I was hoping to make a post for the Scarleteen Blogathon that was pleasant and sweet and that would inspire people to make donations, and to do it without touching on my personal experiences. But there’s no way for me to make a post about sex and sex education without digging at old wounds. Isn’t that part of the new paradigm, anyway, where personal experience has authority?
Scarleteen is written for young people of all sexes and genders. That they manage to do so with so much consistency and dependability is amazing to me. As I become more conscious of my own binary and oppositional language (men do this, women do that, and only men and women), I get more impressed with Scarleteen.
When I recommend websites to my daughter, or to friends with growing children, I am always questioning—is the language and mission of this site going to be inclusive? Is anyone going to be left fRead more...
I throw around the words “fear” and “silence” often when it comes to sex ed. They’re loaded terms, perhaps, but these words best describe my experiences with sex education: my emotional reaction and everyone else’s approach, respectively. These words describe what I feel is not often expressed in the sex education debate.
True, it’s hard to use the “Little Mary Sue is scared” argument to a bunch of adult policymakers who believe that a child will “get over” whatever scare tactics they might use in sex education. I have indeed heard it argued that it is okay to use fear in sex education because, well, incurable STIs are out there right now. You can see the logic: if children grow out of believing in the boogeyman, then certainly they will grow out of being told that condoms have pores that let HIV through, right? At least by the time that they areRead more...
When I was 10 or so, I discovered the wonders of the internet. It was back in the mid-90s, before most people had access, but my father was a computer scientist, and I was rocking out on Mosaic, way before IE or Eathlink or Netscape or AOL made their brands so popular. I didn’t use it for much, as there wasn’t that much info out there pertaining to me, but I did have an email, and learned how to search.
Around the late 90s, I was in my “oh em gee, want to learn everything possible about puberty and sex” and after my parents exhausted the info available at the local library, I was lucky enough to discover Scarleteen.
It was still quite young back then, but it was knowledge, and that was something I was desperately hungry for. More importantly, it was more than just information; it was interactive. I could learn from older teens, from educators, from people my age. I became obsRead more...
This is a guest entry from The Beautiful Kind as part of the month-long blogathon to support and raise awareness for Scarleteen.
I was a teenager in the 80's, but before that I was a kid who got molested.
When I was 8 or 9, my teenage adopted brother asked me, "Do you want me to show you something fun?"
I said sure, not realizing his idea of "fun" was sex with a child. He did things like sneak into the bathroom while I was taking a bath and give me a handful of pencils, instructing me to get as many inside me as I could so that I would be prepared for his penis.
When the family watched movies in the dark living room, he would sit in a chair and stare intensely at me instead of the movie, his hands in his pockets, stroking himself. He had big plans for me.
But before he could turn me into his own personal sex toy, I told my parents about it, and they freaked. It took a while for them to protect me due to the complicated family legal system, but in the meantime they put me in therapy. IRead more...
This is a guest post from sex educator Charlie Glickman, part of the month-long blogathon to help support Scarleteen!
Imagine, for a moment, what the world would be like if we took the same approach to money as we do to sex. Imagine trying to hide all evidence of money from children, telling them that it’s not something they should know about. Imagine shaming them for asking questions about it, for expressing an interest in it, and for wanting to experiment with it. Imagine that you never explained how budgets work, or how to balance a checkbook, or how to pay for anything. Then, imagine that when they turn 18, handing them a credit card and saying “good luck with that.”
In essence, that’s what we do with sex.
Would you be surprised if those young adults didn’t know how to responsibly handle money? Would you be shocked if they ended up in crisis because they didn’t have the skills to take care of themselves? Would you think that their parents and schools had done their job?
If you ansRead more...
This entry is from Omnipotent Poobah, and part of the Scarleteen Blogathon
At the risk of dating myself – at least not in the eHarmony sense – I am from the sex education dark ages.
In my day, Just Say No was Just Don’t Say Anything. Moms and Dads, more often than not, didn’t have “the talk” because of their own shocking lack of knowledge or because they were too embarrassed. Teen pregnancy and sexual diseases were relatively rare. And gay kids? Well, they simply didn’t exist.
Sex ed was limited to the 6th or 7th grade when all the girls were herded out of gym class to see a film about “that time of the month” while the boys played baseball…in the winter. Many of the girls emerged from the film visibly shaken and, so far as I know, none ever revealed the true nature of the film to the boys.
Of course, that left teens to their own sexual education. And teens, as they frequently do, thought they knew more about things than any adult could possibly know. In those days, they unfortunatelyRead more...
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 forRead more...