About Scarleteen Confidential

Every day, we talk with young people at Scarleteen about sex⁠ and sexuality, sexual⁠ health and their relationships, including their relationships with their families.

We've been providing truly comprehensive sex education, information, and one-on-one help in our direct services online to millions of young people worldwide for over seventeen years now. Our work is strongly influenced by Montessori and unschooling approaches, so we spend a lot of time carefully observing and reflecting on what our readers and users share with us, and engage with them in ways -- like active listening and the given that they are whole beings who deserve the respect we afford all whole beings -- we find to be most conducive to good communication⁠ and nurturing an environment they feel safe and free in.

We've got a direct line to young people: we listen to them speak candidly and honestly about all of those things, and where they'll often talk with us in ways about those things they don't with parents, especially in families where parenting around sex and sexuality just isn't going so great, or isn't happening at all.

We know how impactful parents and guardians are for young people when it comes to sex, sexuality and all their relationships. We want to do what we can to support not just the young people we serve, but their families, so that the way parents and their children are engaging with these areas of life and development can be sources of connection, strength and comfort, rather than places of conflict, disconnection or fear. We've also had many parents over the years tell us they'd love it if we had some content just for them.

Enter Scarleteen Confidential...

We figure the best way we can help parents, and do what we can for the young people we serve to make things better for them at home, is by playing the middleman: passing⁠ on what we observe and learn from young people to parents, guardians and other supportive adults⁠ . Young people want you to know how they feel, what they need, and how they think you can do a better job with this: they just often don't feel able to tell you themselves.

This is an intentionally intergenerational project: a collaboration between Scarleteen founder Heather Corinna and Scarleteen staffer Sam Wall, whose birthdays are one day, but almost twenty years, apart.

We’re offering you information and insight we gather from our work with young people in a way we hope will be useful to you, and help you connect better with the young people in your life when it comes to sex and sexuality. We'll show you what they say to us, things they've voiced that demonstrate what they want and need from you, approaches we've found work best when working with them; we'll keep you abreast of current issues, and connect you with accurate, up-to-date information about sex, sexuality, sexual health and relationships so that your conversations with them don't include misinformation and aren't based only on your personal experiences.

I wish she (my mom) was more educated herself so I did’t have to unlearn so much incorrect information. By the age of 17, thanks to Scarleteen, I knew that most of the things she told me about sex were myths that she genuinely believed. Over the past couple years, I’ve had to teach her the truth about the hymen⁠ myth, general guidelines for protection and screening, and that HIV⁠ did not originate from homosexuals. Thankfully she’s changed a lot since I was a teen, and she’s happy to learn now, but when I was younger these were not things that were open for discussion.

What will you find here?

  • Trends we see with our users that either relate directly to family interactions, or are topics, themes or experiences where see places parents can help, do things differently or better, or may need extra information
  • Direct quotes from our users so you can learn from them the way we do
  • General resources and updates on parenting well with sex and sexuality
  • Sex education you may need, or that probably needs refreshing, so that any information you're giving those you parent is current and accurate
  • Support for you, including answers to your own submitted questions (you can submit those on the tumblr feed here or via email with our general contact form here).

We want to support parents and their children in creating and sustaining healthy, kind, mutually respectful and thoughtful relationships with each other, including when it comes to sex and sexuality, an area where even parents who are otherwise amazing and comfortable can feel twitchy, insecure and lost. We want to do what we can to assure you really hear, listen and respect each other, including in your differences, and even when your child asking about or going into any of this scares the utter crap out⁠ of you.

I wish my parents would act more like guides and facilitators to life than authoritarian figures I must figure a way around. I wish I could seriously talk to them about sex, about birth control⁠ , about sexuality. I wish they understood I am a sexual person. I wish they respected my choices and treated me more like a person who is beginning to have autonomy⁠ over my life, take responsibility for my choices, and dictating the values I will life by. I wish that through this phase of my life, the phase where I am figuring out who I am, that they would guide me through it by using their own life experience, instead of saying only their life experience is valid/good.

I desperately want guidance, acceptance, support and love in navigating my sexual life (something i will live with until i die). I wish I could have received it from them instead of only from Tumblr, Scarleteen and feminist websites.

We know adults and young people don't have to be at odds with this: adults and young people absolutely have the capacity to instead be partners and allies, and which benefits everyone. Our hope is to help you and yours to either get there or stay there, even when the going is rough, confusing or intimidating.

We want your family story about sex and sexuality to be one that everyone involved feels is a great one; something that supports everyone in healthy sexualities and relationships, rather than making it harder to have these parts of life be positive and beneficial, or, worse still, where family is a major player in sexual and interpersonal problems, hardships and unhealthy and unhappy patterns.

We'd love it if the people you're parenting stopped saying so often, "I don't have anywhere to go but here to talk about this, and I especially can't talk to my parents," and started saying, "I want to talk about this here, and get some extra support or different opinions to go with the great support and safe space I already have with this at home."

We -- and certainly the young people we work with -- would love for family to be one of the most positive influences in young people's sexual lives, and something that both you and they can feel great about.

About Heather, Sam and Scarleteen:

  • Sam Wall has been a sex educator since 2012, including writing a newspaper column and working the U.C Davis health system. She is currently the Direct Services and Public Relations Assistant for Scarleteen.
  • Heather Corinna, the founder and director of Scarleteen, is a queer⁠ feminist author, activist, artist and award-winning educator in their mid-forties, who's been teaching for around 25 years. Heather lives and works on Vashon Island and the Seattle area in Washington. A second edition of Heather's popular young adult sexuality guide, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College will be published by DaCapo Press in 2016.
  • For more information about Scarleteen, click here.
  • Click here for The Big Five, a list of guiding principles in parenting with sexuality.
  • A list of resources lives here.
  • To see all current posts in the series, click here, or follow on Tumblr at

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If you take nothing else away from Scarleteen Confidential, we feel these five things are the real guiding principles when it comes to parenting well with sex and sexuality.