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That Guy

Anyone who knows me or who knows anything about me usually knows that my pre-teen and teen years were incredibly difficult. I dealt with neglect and abuse in my family, starting from about the time I was 10. I was sexually assaulted twice before I even became a teenager. I was queer. I was suicidal and was a self-injurer. I struggled to find safe shelter sometimes. Few people seemed to notice, even though after I gave up trying to use my words, I still used my eyes to try and tell them constantly. The one adult I could count on over time to be unilaterally supportive of me had (still has) serious mental illness. I had to take more adult responsibility at the end of my teen years than anyone else I knew. Like many adolescents, I constantly heard directly or got indirect messages from adults who talked about how awful teenagers were, how awful I was, how difficult, how impossible, how loathesome. Four days after my sixteenth birthday, the first real-deal big-love-me-lover I had, who tre


Why We Need Scarleteen

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 ans


How are we supposed to know what’s wrong if we don’t know what’s right?

Sade is 17 and works as a youth activist for YWCHAC, a program for and by young women of color that helps foster their development in advocacy training while providing them with the skills to be effective peer-educators to youth on the subject of sexual health. Their mission is to address the increasing rates of HIV infection in young women of color ages 13-24. Sade does a lot of community outreach and events that help develop partnerships with individuals and organizations that have similar goals, events like annual sexual health summits, safer sex education parties, advocacy and STD (STI) workshops, and other community projects.

I got the chance to ask Sade about what she does, why she does it, and what she thinks about some of the issues that impact HIV and young women. I've shortcut my own questions to give her words the spotlight, because she's got some phenomenal things to say that so many people really, really need to listen to.

On what she wants people to know about young wome


Be a Scarleteen Superstar!

(It's much more fun if you do your best Mary Catherine Gallagher moves when you say it.)

Today we're starting our yearly fundraising appeal -- the shiny marketing term for "beg for cash" -- for Scarleteen with some righteous month-long festivities and extras.

We aim to publish an in-depth advice column every single day from now through November 15th. Myself and Scarleteen's assistant director, CJ Turett, will be burning the midnight oil with answers, but we also have the help of some fantastically talented people to help this month, like Jaclyn Friedman, Kate Bornstein, Susie Bright, Zaedryn Meade, Cory Silverberg, Petra Boynton, Justin Bish, Amanda Marcotte, Carol Queen, s.e.smith, Nona Willis Aronowitz and more! You can get started with Jaclyn Friedman's guest advice on getting sexual assault awareness started in your college right here.

All across the 'net there's also a month-long blogathon for us starting today, and we will be reprinting most of the entries right here on our own


Meet the New Editor of Sexuality in Color!

My name is Pamela and I’m thrilled to join the Scarleteen family as Editor of the Sexuality in Color section!

A little bit about me – I am a Black woman living in the Midwest with two fantabulous sorta-beagles. I’ve blogged at my personal blog,, for over five years. I’m also a contributor to Feministing and Shakespeare’s Sister and a staff writer for RH Reality Check.

Sexuality in Color will cover everything from coming out as a LGBTQ person of color, film and pop culture, reproductive health care and everything in between. The goal of the Sexuality in Color section is to discuss, debate and educate each other.

I look forward to getting to know Scarleteen readers and encourage y’all to send questions and comments to me at If you’d like to write a piece for the section, please contact me directly – we’re always looking for guest writers!

Thanks and let’s jump right in…


So, About That Study...

Over the weekend, we linked to reports on the presentation of a study in our Twitter feed and on our Facebook about the effect of sex during adolescence on academics, such as college goals, grade point average, dropout, truancy and absentee rates. On Sunday and Monday, the piece got a whole lot of media and internet airplay, even though it was clear few, if any, reporting on it had yet looked at the study itself.

This morning, we were able to sit down and read the study, Sex and School: Adolescent Sexual Intercourse and Education (Bill McCarthy, Sociology, University of California Davis and Eric Grodsky, Sociology, University of Minnesota), which Bill McCarthy graciously emailed us when we requested it, and he also graciously answered a few of my questions about it directly. We're going to have a larger conversation with them soon that we'll publish here, but as that may take a while, we wanted to clear some of the smoke before it got much thicker. It's a solid study with some importa


Something About Olives. (Really. It's so totally about olives.)

Last night at dinner, my partner was telling me about a story on NPR that afternoon. I was sure I hadn't heard it, yet it felt so terribly, completely familiar, as if I had not only heard it once before, but a million times.

The NPR story was titled, "Your Olive Oil May Not Be The Virgin It Claims." Maybe it sounds a little familiar to you, too:

The next time you reach for a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, beware. A new study from the University of California- Davis claims more than two-thirds of random samples of imported so-called extra-virgin olive oil don't make the grade.

To be extra-virgin, olive oil can't be rancid or doctored with lesser oils... many of the 14 major brands failed certain tests.
"It's become a very sophisticated practice, the adulteration of olive oil throughout the world," Shoemaker says. He says the lab can prove defects, degradation and dilution in olive oil beyond what human taste buds can figure out. The lab testing zeroes in on specific flaws.


Something Surprisingly Real in Secret Life

I cannot stand this show. No sense in being shy about it, because this is a bias I cannot hide, as will be apparent in nanoseconds.

If I had anything even remotely decent or interesting to say about it, I would have blogged it before now. But every single blog post I have even started to think about writing in the past about it had the same title every single time, one composed entirely of profanity except for the articles of speech linking all my four-letter words together.

Summaries and commentaries that read like these do not balanced critical commentary make:

  • "Parade of nonstop clichéd stereotypes! Night of one thousand -isms! All stereotypes encouraged and welcomed to march proudly on Monday! Heart-of-gold hookers! Sexually compulsive foster children and abuse survivors! Slutty latinas! Dry, unemotional Asians! Lady who doesn't know who the baby daddy is! Hypocritical evangelical girl! Hair-pluggin', affair-havin' mid-life crisis guy! Badly-behaved developmentally disabled pe

Who's Calling Who Compulsive? Calling Out a Common Rape Survivor Stereotype

I was one of several guests on a radio show in Baltimore on Friday. The topic of the show was apparently going to be about sex education and social justice, but turned out to be more like fear-mongering and a whole lot of projections around teen sexuality mixed with focus on parents and teen sexuality. I got the impression all four of us who were asked to take part, despite some of our disagreements, were very frustrated with the show and the host clearly asking questions he didn't want factual answers to, despite purportedly asking us to take part to provide just that.

At one point, he asked one of the guests to talk about rape victims and survivors. She said she did not do any work with rape or survivors, but instead of deferring to any of us who had, or just saying "I don't know," she went ahead and did some postulating and guesswork. There were several things she said in a rush of words that bothered me, but one of the most troubling was a statement that rape survivors "compulsive


Glee and the Big V

High school has always provided great inspiration for movies and television. Grease, Popular, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Breakfast Club, Freaks and Geeks....the list of high-school-based movies and TV shows is pretty extensive. And then there's a new addition, Glee, set in a smallish town in the US, centered on the local high school's glee club, and chock full of as much singing, dancing and snappy one-liners as anyone could want. There's the fairly standard cast of characters; the good teacher and the bad teacher, the macho football coach and the fairly clueless guidance counsellor, the popular kids and the not-so-popular. The show is entertaining and all (I do love a musical) but I find it pretty hit and miss in terms of how the high school experience is portrayed. For example, the recent episode featuring three characters dealing with first-time sex - to a soundtrack entirely by Madonna, including, yep, Like a Virgin. (If you haven't seen it and want to, prepare for spoile


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