The correct answer is Asexual. In our sexually-charged society and social media, it is possible to be asexual. In fact, 1% or nearly three million people refer to themselves as asexual or “aces,” according to Lisa Zhang at TED X Gunn High School Talk on YouTube (3-26-2014).
What Is Asexuality?
Asexuality is a term for not desiring sex, for not experiencing sexual attraction. In another YouTube Ted Talk: Asexuality: My Story of Self-Exploration, Chantal Kelly (TED X Youth @LAS), March 16, 2016, reveals to the audience that she regards “the thought of having sex about as exciting as washing dishes.” In her high school, she says, “there is such pressure on girls to have sex by the age of sixteen.” On the other hand, “Foster,” on an asexuality media site, says “being asexual, has been freeing for him to realize that he doesn’t need to perform sexually to be worthy of love and affection.”
Asexuals can be straight, gay, bi, trans, questioning or intersex. You can’t tell on the surface if someone is an “ace.” He/She/They may be born asexual or become asexual through trauma such as rape. They may want to date, get married, be romantic, they just don’t want to have sex although they may engage in it. It’s NOT the same as celibacy which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity. It’s an intrinsic part of who they are and defines them.
Some people know they are asexual at a young age. Some figure it out later. Being asexual is not a mental disorder or condition. If you’re wondering if you are asexual, these guidelines from Healthline.com may help:
- Have you ever been sexually attracted to another person?
- Do you want to have sex or engage in sexual practices?
- If you want to date or get married at some point, do you want sex to be part of that relationship?
- If you’ve had sex before, was it something you liked? Would you want to do it again?
- How were your feelings different or similar to your friends’ or partners’ experiences?
Lack of Education About Asexuality
Most schools do not cover asexuals in their health sex education classes. As a concerned parent or asexual student, you can look up the laws and policies in your state and school. If not, you can find a community of youth activists who are working for acceptance and legal rights for the LGBTQIA population in an organization called Advocates for Youth that partners with youth leaders, adult allies and youth serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs.
Other support organizations are:
- AVEN ( The Asexual Visibility and Education Network). It has a large archive of resources on asexuality and is the largest community of asexuals.
- Aces & Aros is a peer-led support group for students who are on the Asexual and/or Aromantic spectrums. It is a safe group in which to identify with others on the spectrum.
Of course, the biggest support system is the parent. What do you say to your asexual child who comes out to you:
- As with any coming out, don’t doubt the revelation. Who knows better than the child?
- Show interest, ask questions, but let the child have the reins!
- Realize that an asexual can love, be in a romantic relationship, even marry.
- At the same time, they may feel lonely, misunderstood, pitied.
Although the A in LGBTQIA stands for Asexual, in your home, it can also stand for ally.
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.