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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 treRead more...
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...
We're just getting caught up with the myriad of fantastic blog entries that are part of the blog carnival that's been going on over the last three weeks as an effort to help cultivate support for Scarleteen. We've been reprinting some entries here at our blog, and will keep up with that, but here are a handful we can link right to for you to take a look at:
From Cory Silverberg at About.Com:
Scarleteen does sex education from a social justice model. Whether it's an article on the site, a response in the forums, or a request for more information in order to refer a youth out, they acknowledge the multiple ways that youth are systemically denied basic rights and access to sex education and sexual health. It's not unusual for a question about, say contraception or sexual pleasure, to elicit an answer that accessibly and seamlessness weaves information about race, class, and gender, in with information about how to go about choosing and accessing contraception, or negotiating with a part
Sex ed. We hear that word a lot, but who really knows what sex ed is? It’s short for “sexual education,” but what’s that?
According to my handy dandy dictionary, sex education is: “education about human sexual anatomy, reproduction, and intercourse and other human sexual behavior.” Lots of words, but it’s pretty much learning about the human body and its reproduction. Pretty much straightforward, right? Wrong.
I know how un-straightforward sex ed is, probably more than any other blogger you read. That’s because I attended health class, every day, for 20 weeks less than a year ago.
Every single morning at 7:40am I was in Mr. Hanson’s (he requested I not use his real name) class for 46 minutes. Monday-Friday from December all the way to February, I had to sit in this class. This was a chance for New York State and Pittsford CentraRead 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 guest post from the wonderful Anne Semans at the Moms in Babeland blog is part of our month-long fundraising effort for Scarleteen. Thanks, Anne!
One day about 20 years ago I was walking down Haight Street with my 6-year-old niece. This was long before I had kids, but well after I started selling sex toys for a living. It was San Francisco in the early Nineties, and Salt n’ Pepa’s song “Let’s Talk About Sex” was blasting out onto the city streets. My niece looked up at me and asked what the song was about.
My moment had arrived! It was my big opportunity to be the “cool aunt” and to seize on a teachable moment to explain the biology without any moralizing or stereotyping.
I nervously launched into a monologue about sex being an intimate act between two adults that brings them pleasure, and how sometimes but not always it can result in a baby being conceived, and that it can be between two women, two men, or one of each.
Finally I paused and asked her if that answered her questRead more...