Yesterday, I listened to sex researcher Megan Maas’s TEDXTalk “How the Evolution of Porn Changed Adolescence.” Dr. Maas is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State. In her work, she collects surveys and focus group data from adolescents on their media and sexuality experiences.
According to Dr. Maas, the young are having less face-to-face non-virtual sex but spending more time looking at online porn, which she contends, is not the best sex educator. It doesn’t teach intimacy, respect, or trust within a relationship.
Maas’s college survey of more than 2,000 students reported abysmal statistics:
- less than 1/2 of students’ parents discussed sex more than once. The parents mistakenly thought the “talk” had to be given only once.
- Only 26% of parents discussed sexual violence with their kids.
- Less than 7% of parents discussed pornography, sexual pleasure and sexual consent with their children.
For tongue-tied parents not used to delving into these topics, there’s help. Here are some resources:
- PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays)
- National Youth Advocacy Coalition
- GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education, Network)
- US Department of Health and Human Services Resources for families: How to talk to teens about difficult topics.
- Caitlin Ryan. Family Acceptance Project, San Francisco State.
Over ninety percent of parents want their children to have sexual education in schools yet the instruction, left to the states, can be wholly inadequate. Many states, mandate “abstinence-only” education or specific aspects such as contraception, with little information that can be applicable to LGBT students. When the information isn’t properly regulated by the state, teachers are left to interpret vague legislative guidelines. Consequently, the information the student receives may not be accurate.
What can a parent of an LGBT child do to make the sex ed. relevant to their child?
- Find out what the laws in your state. Go to local school board to find out what sex education looks like in your community schools. The nursing blog at usc compares legislative policies of fifty states, including how they mandate specific aspects of sex education like contraception, abstinence and sexual orientation .
- The legislation for sex ed. falls under jurisdiction of state rights. You can find representative and senators and tell them to support Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and put and end to abstinence-only-until-marriage and sexual avoidance (SRA) programs.
- You can order Siecus’s (Sexuality and Information and Education Council of the United States “advancing sex ed for social change since 1964.”) book: Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, K-12. siecus.org.
Parents and schools should not fear that additional information will cause their adolescents to become promiscuous. Quite the contrary, they will make well-informed decisions based on well-respected knowledge, not hearsay or ignorance.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.