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“What’s Your Preferred Gender Pronoun?”

Here’s something that happened to me last month: I got asked my preferred gender pronoun.

For those who aren’t familiar, this is a thing that tends to happen a lot at queer-positive conferences and gatherings these days. When you go around the room at the beginning of a session, you’ll say your name, something about yourself, maybe answer an ice-breaker question, and state your preferred gender pronoun.

It can be he/him, she/her, they/their, or one of the newer invented substitutes like ze or hir. Or, you can say you’d prefer to be referred to by your name.

I first encountered this tradition in 2011, I think. Maybe 2010. Most likely it was at a United States Student Association conference. The not-so-radical-anymore idea behind it is that respecting people’s gender identity is important, and volunteering your identity can be awkward, and misgendering someone is hurtful. So rather than guessing, or asking individual people to speak up if their preferences are non-standard or non-obvio

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Love is Respect Healthy Relationships Quiz

A quick quiz to test the health of your relationships and help you detect red flags. The site also provides lots of information about dating abuse and advice for getting help and taking action. A live chat feature is available if you wish to talk with a peer advocate (you can also reach them by phone or text.)

The Testing Diaries: Robin

Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.

Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner -- and not just anal or vaginal intercourse -- can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.

This is why we're doing this series at Scarleteen. In it, some of our volunteers share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.

Ten years ago, I knew about using lube, about making first-time intercourse comfortable, and about pregnancy prevention options, but it seems I didn’t know much about sexually transmitted infections.

My partner at

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Off the Beaten Path

When I was growing up, I often turned to my mother for relationship advice. We had our differences, but we were close, and I valued her opinions. However, I also found myself grappling with many of the things she said, because in all of it one thing was clear: for her, the only kind of acceptable sexual relationships are monogamous, heterosexual, long-term commitments.

We first started having these conversations when I was around 14 years old, which was also when I first started to question my sexuality. From the start, I had some questions about this concept. What if I did not want to sleep with men at all? What if I did not feel interested in the marriage-and-kids thing?

A few years later, after two failed relationships (with the same wonderful person) and a lot of angst, I was fairly certain about two things: 1. I was pretty darn queer and 2. I wasn't cut out for monogamous, long-term relationships at the time. I did not feel comfortable within a relationship, no matter how awesom

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Why Does Friendship Matter to a Sex Ed Organization?

It struck me today that folks might sometimes wonder why, with an organization focused on sexuality, sexual health, and sexual relationships, we spend quite a bit of time talking about friendship. We do it in articles and blogs, and we talk with users often in our direct services about their friendships.

What's that got to do with what we do?

A lot. Perhaps far more than you'd think.

For starters, we strongly feel that friendship is at the core of any and every excellent, happy, healthy relationship, whether we're talking about a friendship that doesn't have any romance or sex in it at all, or we're talking about romantic relationships, sexual relationships or both. We think a sound friendship also has an awful lot to do with healthy family relationships, mentorships, and pretty much any ongoing human interaction we could possibly have.

Our relationships with people will also tend to be fluid through our lives. Friends can become lovers, lovers can become friends or family. Our super

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I think he'll dump me if I don't have sex with him. So, should I?

i.ate.the.cookie. asks:

I'm 13 and my boyfriend is 16. I'm a virgin but he isn't and I feel like if I don't have sex with him he is going to break up with me. Should we just have oral? Also, how can you tell if someone has already had sex?

My boyfriend got so angry at me when my first time hurt. Will lube fix it?

coco23 asks:

I am 24. I am a virgin. I tried to have sex with my boyfriend. We didn't use condoms. He tried to put it inside of me. I was in pain. He went in a little. I was feeling uncomfortable. He was so angry. I told him, I wasn't ready. He was very angry. He told me to get over it. He is so frustrated. Is there way to get over the pain? Does lube work?

Teenage Rebellion: An Unschooling, Respectfully Parented Perspective

There seems to be the almost universal belief among North American parents (I'm sure this is a phenomena found elsewhere as well, but I'm just talking about what I've personally seen) that their kids, whether these are theoretical future children or actual kids, and whether they have yet to reach their teen years or not, will hate or at the very least dislike them. Teenagers hate their parents: everyone knows that.

My mother has told me that when my sister and I were small, she used to say to my father that he had to take over primary parental duties once we hit our teen years. She's told me that she loved being a parent, and loved spending time with us, right from the get-go, but being surrounded by warnings of "wait until they become teenagers!" she always thought that would change when we got older.

Out for a Fall walk in 2008. We so obviously hate each other.Out for a Fall walk in 2008. We so obviously hate each other.

I suppose it's actually a very reasonable belief that your teens will dislike you: after all, most teens I know and have k

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I want to have sex. He doesn't. Why not? And what do I do now?

beccaboo71 asks:

I've been dating my current boyfriend for 5 months now, and I really am ready and willing to have sex. But, he's not. He wants to, and he's curious but he feels that he shouldn't? I don't know what to do, I don't understand why he's feeling this way about it. Is there something wrong with me? Something he's afraid to say? Or is he just really scared himself? Help!

Parents: worried about sending simplistic messages about sex to teens? Then don't.

margaret asks:

My 15 year old son has a first girlfriend who is a year older. My concern is that she lives with her dad only and quite often is home alone. My son has been there twice already and one time I made him leave because the dad was not home. I am besides myself about how to handle this. He said that he is not going to have sex with her but you know how that goes. I know what I was doing at 15. Do I make condoms available? But that would be condoning it. I will have a talk with the girl about not hanging at her house. They are always welcome at mine and I will try to speak to her dad about it.

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