Because you have your whole life
Shuffling feet, dusty floors. Click-whrr, washed-out slides. Snickering. Honestly, I don’t remember much about high school sex ed except that it was boring. My school was reasonably progressive, but our sex-ed class was anatomical, biological, and cold–in short, completely unhelpful.
My parents? Oh, I have the very vaguest memory of my mom having a “talk” with me…it would another year or two before I came out to them, but I knew I only liked girls and as soon as she started talking about boys my mind wandered off. If I never had sex with boys, I certainly couldn’t get pregnant, and I couldn’t catch anything nasty either right? So I didn’t need to care. And when I finally got laid with a girl–you know what I remember about my first kiss, my first time having sex? I’ll tell you it had nothing to do with safer sex. Not on my radar.
As a cripplingly awkward young lesbian too frightened to ask my parents or anyone about what I was going through, it wasn’t easy to find what I was looking for. Like many queer youth, I thought I was weird, I thought there was something wrong with me. I was terrified and embarrassed and didn’t know where to look other than the internet. This was in the last days of the BBS, when Geocities twinkled like so much tacky graffiti–and unfortunately, I didn’t find anything like Scarleteen.
Although I turned out okay, it took most of my young adult life to correct my misconceptions about my own sexuality and identity. Other people have much worse stories—but it doesn’t have to be like that.
“My doctor told me that I only need to get tested if I think I have something.”
“Um, no, you should get tested regularly even if you don’t have symptoms. Many people who have an STI are asymptomatic.”
“But if you don’t have symptoms why does it matter?”
“…because some STIs can have serious health effects if untreated, and you can pass them to other people. I get tested for almost everything, every year, just in case.”
“You’re a girl, they can just do that easily, they don’t have tests for men right?”
“Umm, no, that’s not true. I can send you some links, there are some really good websites with information about sexual health…”*
It isn’t just kids that need education. Adolescents and adults, queer people, straight people, of every kind and color–we all need solid, factual information about sexual, emotional, and relationship health. Scarleteen provides real information about real situations in a safe environment–it’s by far the best resource I know of. The website is 100% unbiased– they don’t accept grant funding with strings and for that reason, they need you to give them a few dollars. Please help them to continue offering this awesome information that we all desperately, desperately need.
This post brought to you for the Scarleteen Sex-Ed Blog Carnival. Go forth and educate!
*Yes, this is a real conversation that I had recently with an adult, someone who has been sexually active for many years. This is why we need Scarleteen.