Frank, honest, up-to-date sexual health info for teens:

There’s a lot of sex to be found on the Internet.

Pretty much everything you’ve ever thought of, and lots of things you’ve never dreamed of, have their own dark, sweaty corner in a website somewhere. And teens are pretty good at finding these places. So are adults, for that matter, but at least they are comfortably over the age of consent and have (hopefully) developed the good judgment to process what they see.

What you don’t always find online — or in most places in Western culture — is frank, honest discussion of human sexuality, with all its permutations, challenges and pleasures. French theorist Michel Foucault noted that despite all the constant buzz about sex, we actually are quite repressed since we never really talk about sex.

Which is why I really love this site for teens:

Scarleteen is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website, facilitated and staffed by a wide diversity of adult and teen writers and educators. They offer an amazing set of resources in their static content, hundreds of up-to-date articles on all sorts of issues.  They have an opt-in/ opt-out policy on information, so it’s all there, from abortion to contraception to LGBTQ; that means users are independently able to seek out what they want to know more about, and steer clear of material they might find offensive.

They provide ongoing mentoring and guidance for their volunteers, many of whom help moderate the interactive portion of the site, offer offline teen outreach and support, primarily through sexual/reproductive health clinics, community and school groups and teen homeless/transitional shelters in and around Seattle, Washington.

They’ve published a book, called S.E.X.: The Scarleteen Book by Heather Corinna (also available through Amazon), the description of which reads:

Covering everything from STIs to sexual orientation, body image to birth control, masturbation to misogyny, the anatomy of the clitoris to considering cohabitation, and written for you whether you’re male, female or genderqueer; straight, gay or somewhere in between, this is the everything-you-need, comprehensive, progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school, college and maybe even the rest of your sex life.

There are so many cool, interesting, informative and helpful sections to this website that every teen and parent should have it bookmarked. The fact that the information is put out there without moral judgment or hidden agenda is pretty awesome, since teens are really good at tuning out when the lecturing and moralizing begins. And since the whole point is keeping them (and ourselves) informed so we can make healthy choices at difficult times, is an example of how the Internet can work for the forces of good.

Check it out.

3 responses to “Frank, honest, up-to-date sexual health info for teens:

  1. I still think parents are the best persons to educate their kids about sex, starting when they are young and being open-minded and available to talk as their kids get older.

    • Laura, I wholeheartedly agree with you about parents educating their kids about sex, as well as about starting the conversation early. But sometimes we don’t have all the answers to their questions, and sometimes our teens may not come to us with their questions and concerns, because they are embarassed, worried, or scared they aren’t “normal”. That’s why I think Scarleteen is such a fantastic resource – because when a 14-year-old blindly googles his/her question about sex, there are so many ways for them to be led astray, misinformed or distracted by something titillating intead. If we direct them to sites like these, we are showing them where to get information we might not be able to provide on our own.

  2. You bring up a good point, Alissa! Thanks for answering back.