Scarleteen By the Numbers: What You Said

The last section of our recent demographics survey (click here and here for data from the previous sections) was an optional, open section where we simply stated, "If you have any comments you'd like to add about this survey or Scarleteen as a whole, please feel free to add them here."

Of the 419 participants who left comments in this section, most were about Scarleteen as a whole, rather than the survey. The few on the survey itself included a couple concerns about the previous section discussed here, a couple nods of appreciation for the inclusion in the education section of no schooling or alternative education, and two concerns (from people identifying as cisgender) that when we asked about gender, and provided fields for men, women and also trans gender, separately, we were suggesting trans people are neither men nor women. To clear that one up, the opposite was our intent. Our intention was to recognize and validate the many ways people who are not cisgender may and do identify. We used the options we did (as well as the additional options) because we know some trans gender people simply identify as men or women; others identify as trans, trans men or trans women. We figured -- and looking at the back end of the data, it does seem participants who were trans seemed to get that -- participants would know they could check however it is they identified, or choose the open-ended field if their gender identity was something outside all the options or they wanted to specify further.

The vast majority of responses in this section were about Scarleteen. Critical responses were few, but they included a couple suggestions to consider using gender-neutral pronouns throughout the site. That is something we have discussed often over the years, but have not reached any conclusions about, especially given how many of our readers do not have English as a first language, how many use translators to read the site, and for how many we are introducing so many new concepts and frameworks for, and don't want to overwhelm. It's always a challenge for us to try to best serve the wide diversity of our readership, and this remains one of the core challenges. Per usual, we're always up to discussing this with anyone who would like to in the comments or via email.

A few people voiced challenges with navigating the vast amount of content we have on the site. In the positive comments there were just as many statements of how easy it is to find everything here at the site. However, we do feel that navigation and organization improvements very much could and should be made, have been starting work on that already, and hope to raise the funds to implement and complete those improvements by by summer of 2012. A couple people also made requests for increased content for men, people with disability and about asexuality. You got it!

One participant voiced a desire for Scarleteen to only support one model of relationship or sexual interaction: that of marriage or long-term exclusive romantic relationships only. That isn't ever likely to happen. Not only is marriage not even an option for everyone, but our readership is diverse, and we know healthy relationships and healthy sexual interactions can and do occur outside that model and unhealthy relationships and sexual interactions can and do occur inside that model. We know that based on history, quite a lot of broad data and study and directly from our readers as well as our own lives.

One last critical comment expressed feeling our text-in service is a waste of money. This stands counter, however, to the many users of our text service who have voiced a deep appreciation for the service. As well, the text service is highly cost-effective: our server bills are higher than the cost of our text service, and the tools for running the text service allow staff and volunteers to manage the text service while doing other work. Should the text service ever be utilized less or should the cost massively increase, be sure we'll rethink it. Scarleteen is one of the most cost-effective and cost-efficient organizations of it's kind, so we always have a keen eye on things like this.

There were an awful lot of comments that were simply very gracious thank you's. And you're so welcome! Thank YOU!

We really appreciated all of the positive feedback, and so much of it was also really educational for us. It's so helpful to know what our users find of value here, and how what we do is or has been personally relevant to them, especially since, again, there is so much diversity among our userbase, so what one person finds here or gets from it can be very different from what another does. There were far too many of those comments to document all of them here, but please know they all were deeply appreciated. Here's a sampling:

  • "This is the most important website I have ever seen."
  • "This website is totally fantastic. I think the world would be a better place if every young person with questions knew about this website. Users find a place where sexuality is not stigmatized or shied away from. It's not weird or creepy to have or not have desires. This is a fantastic, open minded community that answers questions with great honesty and gentleness. Thank you so much for existing."
  • "Thanks for providing accessible information that is easy to understand for everyone. I shared some pages with my younger cousin who was asking me about straight sex details I was not knowledgeable about before, being queer."
  • "I like the way it has a good healthy attitude about teen sex, unlike a lot of websites that just say to say no."
  • "It is incredibly heartening to see how beautifully and effectively you distill complex and truly progressive ideas into manageable, practical, and constructive terms, and how responsive so many young users are to your work. Many thanks."
  • "This is the absolute best website (or source anywhere) I know of when it comes to providing accurate, detailed, and nonjudgmental information about sex."
  • "It is nice and reassuring to hear from real people that it is okay to be bisexual and to have all my hardest questions answered through just two articles on this site. Thank you!"
  • "I started reading the site at 16, before I became sexually active at 18. You folks are the only site I've ever read on the topic that really, really got the tone right on sex ed for youth. In addition, your Twitter account, text services, and find-a-doc feature are making you a rolemodel for organizations trying to integrate social media into reproductive health advocacy. In short: rock on!"
  • "it's the only website I've been able to find where people who aren't douchebags or uneducated give great and supportive answers to those in need. It is a very helpful website and I love how quickly the experts reply. And with logical and helpful answers, too!"
  • "Scarleteen is an outstanding resource for nonjudgmental and open sex and relationship advice, and it is so refreshing for advice to be so inclusive of people who are not straight, cisgendered and able-bodied."
  • "You guys have been SO crucial to me. As someone who attends a Catholic university, legitimate information and protection can be hard to come by-- they don't allow condoms to be distributed for free, nothing. Throughout my sexual life (which started only a year ago!) I have had Scarleteen's support. I began taking the pill and backing it up with condoms or withdrawal, and when I had paranoid freakouts (aka pregnancy scares) Scarleteen was there to ease the tension and make me think rationally. The Chicken Soup for the Pregnancy Freakout's Soul article is bookmarked as one of my favorites. All I have to say is THANK YOU. What you do is truly invaluable to me. And I'm sure there are millions of others like me who have found comfort in using your site."
  • "Keep doing what you do. I read your articles and you never cease to impress with me. They are so straight forward, detailed, and I feel like the writer personally cares about the reader."
  • "I like how accessible the site is, all the information is easy to find and understand."
  • "Schools would do well to use this site along with their sex ed programs they already have. It is non-judgemental so it does not cut off part of the student body by telling them what they are doing is wrong/right or good/bad, it gives them the facts they need to know no matter what stage they are in sexual relationships; whether they are having sex or not."
  • "I appreciate the way you assume anyone using your site has agency to make decisions for themselves, and the way you acknowledge the complexity of human sexuality instead of reducing it to oversimplistic stereotypes."
  • "Thank you for the site. I grew up in a conservative (religious and political) community and had abstinence-only education with serious misinformation. College was when the bad things happened...finding a site like this helps reassure me that it wasn't my fault."
  • "Thank you so much for a site that doesn't spout socially biased bs, but tells us the facts and how to make ourselves happy without preaching."
  • "I am so grateful to Scarleteen articles for validating some of the "responsible aka uncool" choices I have made in terms of my sexuality especially regarding protection and safety, and reaffirming that in a respectful and supportive relationship, my partner would also accept those choices."

Next up? I'll wind this down by talking about an overview of all the data, and where we're going to take things from here with what the data helped show us or make more clear for us. Again, our deepest thanks to everyone who took the time to give us such valuable information.


Nice Post Heather!

I would still like to spread the word that for any high school student in Chicago and St. Louis that they can enter their thoughts on making healthy sexual decisions for a $2,000 cash prize! Check out and on Facebook for more information! Thanks! Rachel