Normalizing sex education goes beyond the one-and-done ‘sex talk’

How to lean into the awkward nature of sex and sexuality education to support our tweens and teens.

Starting with season 3 of the Netflix comedy series, of course! Aired a few weeks back, Sex Education has captivated adult and teen audiences for all its raw, relatable, affirming, smart and inclusive characters and storylines. While controversial in certain circles, the show nails the emotional highs and lows of being a teen in the throes of feisty hormones, daily peer pressure, and media misinformation that never sleeps. “It gives them a language to talk about sex and relationships in a mature way with peers and it teaches them about consent, acceptance and the importance of listening to your own inner voice,” says parent on team Sex Education.

Fiction aside, isn’t sex education covered at school?

Yes…and no. Depending on your district, your kid is in one of two programs — the Comprehensive Sexuality Education or the Abstinence-Only-Until Marriage Program., And if you can’t already guess the difference, don’t sweat it. While they’re both foundational for facts and figures around things like birth control and safe sex, they both kind of miss the point around emotional and mental health. We’re not just talking about the often dreaded one-and-done “sex talk,” which brings me to the point…

It’s time we expand the sex talk!

Myth busted. “Talking to your kids about sex isn’t one big conversation, and it’s not just about the act of having sex,” says Licensed Sex Therapist Emily Jamea. The talk is actually a series of conversations about everything under the sexuality sun — puberty, naming body parts, masterbation, pornography, consent, body safety, and all things in between. If almost half of all teens become sexually active between 15 and 19 (according to the CDC), then we have a big opportunity here moms and dads.

Apparently, talking about sex will always be awkward.

Written by Tiffany Wen

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