“Youth” is just one of many identities we experience during our lives, and stigmatizing or shaming a person because of age fails any social movement fighting against oppression.
This week, a new study shows that just one in five sexually active high school students has been tested for HIV; a porn producer with a large presence in San Francisco threatens to move to Las Vegas if a condom law is passed; and a vibrator lets you record your vagina during masturbation.
Sexual pleasure can be a taboo subject in our society almost everywhere but in our entertainment, where it is arguably overdone. But even in our media, sex seems to be the sole privilege of young, white, single, and non-disabled people. That’s what makes John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars so remarkable.
Once hailed as a lifesaver and necessity for everyone thinking about having sex, condoms are now frequently maligned—young people are surrounded by messages suggesting they don’t work, they break, and they take all the fun out of sex.
Parental consent and notification laws are built on a series of myths about young people, families, abortion, and the judicial process.
Many young people continue to lack confidential access to health care and that significantly obstructs their use of critical sexual and reproductive health services, such as birth control.
A parent’s freakout over the possibility that her teenage daughter might talk to a doctor without a parent present is an important reminder that adolescent rights to medical privacy are ill-defined and need to be clarified, to protect teenage health.
The results of the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which were released on Friday, are somewhat discouraging. On almost every measure of safer sexual behavior, progress has either stagnated or, in cases like condom use, reversed.
We don’t wait to teach driver’s ed until after young people start driving, so why on earth do most sex education classes occur after a significant chunk of teens are already sexually active? It’s time to let go of the sentimental attachment to the idea of “innocence” in adolescents.
Having spent much of my career reviewing abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula and material, I can promise that just adding a lesson about contraception cannot turn a fear- and shame-based program into anything better.