Sex, Etc.

I stumbled upon something that I found to be rather interesting during my research. First, I started looking at a site called “Rethinking Schools,” and an article titled “Sex Etc.” After reading, I learned that “Sex Etc.” is a magazine on sexuality written for teens and by teens. According to rethinkingschools.org, “The only publication of its kind, “Sex, etc.” is a frank, sexually explicit newsletter published three times a year by the Network for Family Life Education, a coalition of public, private, and nonprofit agencies that supports family life education — including comprehensive sexuality education — in school and community settings.” The article continued to say that the 8 page magazine is distributed for free widely across the United States and addresses topics that may be unheard of in sexual education programs. These include but are not limited to: “abstinence, contraception, teen parenthood, sexually transmitted disease, AIDS, gay and lesbian teens, sexual harassment and violence, abortion, substance abuse, and child sexual abuse.”

I proceeded to check out the magazine’s web site. There was more available than I originally could have imagined, including a large glossary of “Sex Terms” that teens can look up the definitions to. I mean, this glossary literally has everything you can imagine, things some people would go red in the face simply thinking about. Along with this is a list of frequently asked questions, information on how to get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections, and direct answers to what you can do in a “Crisis” (i.e. rape, unprotected sex).

A few more interesting things that the site offered were quotes and stories from people about their thoughts and feelings about sex. They are encouraged to be extremely open, even if that means using a different name if they aren’t comfortable using their own. People can create profiles, and something I took interest in was on a girl named Brittany, a 16-year-old from Illinois’ profile. There was a chart of what she was taught in sex education class, and what her class skipped over that the website deemed important. The list of the things that she learned is as follows (I copied and pasted this directly from the website):

 • Masturbation • Menstruation • Different kinds of sex • Issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, Trans, or questioning people • Pregnancy options • Abstinence • Abstinence as the only acceptable choice for teens • STDs • How to talk to your partner about sex • Rape and sexual assault

And the list of important things that her class failed to discuss is also as follows, and is once again copied and pasted directly from the website.

• Wet dreams • Fingering and hand jobs • How to decide if you’re ready for sex • How to talk to your parents about sex • How to talk to your partner about birth control or safer sex • How to figure out if your relationship is healthy or not • How to manage online flirting and dating • How to know if your body is developing in a normal way • How to find a clinic

I found this particularly shocking because half of these things were undoubtedly left out of my own Sex-Ed experience. I think that this magazine should be distributed nation wide in health classes and even the educators might need a training course to teach them how to teach us. Abstinence only isn’t a realistic approach anymore. They need to be discussing issues that they don’t want us to have to deal with, but they are important, and unfortunately, with the way things are going, many of us will have to deal with. Sex needs to stop being the forbidden subject! Teens and tweens need to feel comfortable with at least one adult to ask questions without feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Like Mr. Coffee says, one only learns from being uncomfortable, so we need to make ourselves uncomfortable and get the awkward subjects out there if we really want to change the way things are going.

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