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talking to teens about sex

Last night I wrote a piece for the latest Think Progress challenge, which asked us to blog about what teenagers should be told about sex. It turned out to be a really interesting topic with lots of people generating some high quality responses (here). Unfortunately, the technology gods were not smiling on me, and I somehow unchecked the box that crossposts to LJ. I can't figure out how to do that without creating a whole new post, and I can't do that since Libby Anne already linked to the old one.

So instead, please read my blog post at http://www.fidesquaerens.org/blog/?p=1203 if you're interested. A sample:

Sex education really begins as soon as we figure out as small children that people come in his and hers varieties. That doesn’t mean three-year-olds need to be sat down for a talk about proper STD usage with their preschool classes. What it does mean is that sexual education is about more than how not to get pregnant or catch HIV, and it’s not about just being a virgin. It’s the work of a lifetime and involves a whole range of choices we need to make. You can’t unravel it from the way we teach kids about love, family, choice, responsibility, and respect. It’s about what we expect from men and from women when they come together in any combination, in any context, including (but hardly limited to) the ones that involve satin sheets.

But we need to talk about this, because girls at least (I can only speak for my own experience here) are hearing plenty. I grew up Methodist in the Carolinas, in the 1980s and 1990s. My family was not fundamentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I did grow up hearing certain things about sex. Sex was where babies come from. It was what men and women did after they got married. Women had to be protected (and protect themselves) because our virginity was a big part of what made us good. It was also part of being a good friend not to “tempt” men, so we should dress modestly. And while we might have a career, women needed a family and marriage to be truly fulfilled. That was our true coming of age, too, when we were married.

This is just what I absorbed from my non-fundamentalist background. It was juxtaposed against a healthy dose of freedom to think things through and make up our own minds, as well as the feminism that finally was making inroads into mainstream Southern culture during my childhood. But still, I knew there were people that thought this way and that many of them were probably in my church and neighborhood, maybe even my family. And given the chance, I’d like to improve on some of those messages.


I'd welcome your comments either here or at my blog, whichever you prefer. And do check out Libby Anne's roundup, which features some excellent thoughts on the subject from some high-class progressive bloggers.

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