A friend forwarded the following article to me titled “Student Taught about Homosexual Foreplay Disguised as Tolerance“. For those with no patience or stomach for uptight-sex-negative-Christian writing, I’ll briefly summarize. A middle school in Maine had a Diversity Day presentation from PRYSM, the Proud Rainbow Youth of Southern Maine, to talk against bullying. The presentation ended with a Q&A session where the students could ask anything they wanted. And, surprise, the middle schoolers wanted to talk about sex. And PRYSM answered those questions frankly and truthfully. The response that seems to be causing a stir is letting students know that Saran Wrap can be used in a pinch as a barrier between a vagina and mouth for safe oral sex. Thus, the uptight-sex-negative-Christian outrage. The article has such witty responses as:
I don’t want my child taught heterosexual foreplay, let alone homosexual foreplay in school.
I’ve had to let him know that no matter what situation he gets in – my suggestion is not saran wrap. My suggestion is to abstain altogether.
Not only that, but the article itself contains a picture of shocked kids who are obviously too young to be in middle school. Were they simply hoping people would only read the headline and see the picture? I’ve tried my best to find a non-biased report of this situation, but have come up empty. So I’m going to defend PRYSM against a one-sided argument and discuss why safe sex discussion must be a part of middle school education.
I have a soft spot for PRYSM in this whole mess, because I work for an LGBTQ youth center very similar to PRYSM. Like them, our organization has participated in diversity training with schools and other groups and inevitably, sex comes up in the discussion. Why? Maybe it’s because people still equate LGBT identities with sex rather than seeing sex as a small part of our lives as a whole. Or maybe it’s because we queer folk are pretty upfront about sex out of necessity, and kids who can’t talk to their uptight-sex-negative-Christian parents respond to that. Either way, PRYSM responded to the students questions about sex in an honest way and I applaud them for that. It’s the outrage of homophobic parents pulling the “this is what happens when you let queers have rights” card that I find offensive, not middle schoolers being curious about sex.
Psst. Uptight-sex-negative-Christian parents. Come here. I have a little secret for you. Are you ready? LGBT peeps are not corrupting your kids. Middle schoolers are human beings who are on the cusp of puberty, which means it is incredibly likely they will explore S-E-X before they graduate high school. And it is almost certain they will have sex before marriage. In fact, most Americans, including grandmothers, have had or will have sex before they are married. And considering that the numbers are as high as 91 percent, which far outnumbers the non-Christian population, Jesus does not seem to be very effective at keeping horny teenagers from having sex. So maybe, just maybe, we should have a mature discussion with children about how to practice sex safely rather than attempting to avoid the inevitable and then dealing with the messy consequences. If you want to reduce the number of abortions, unwanted pregnancies, and STIs in the world, than you should be screaming about condoms, dental dams, and Saran Wrap from the fucking mountain tops. Not making your kids wear fake wedding rings and declare promises they can’t keep.
I talk to my “gaybies” about safe sex on a very regular basis. If a kid wants to know how a female condom works, I take one out and show it to her. If another kid wants to know what a flavored dental dam tastes like, I tell them to open one and lick it. I also suggest a cut condom or, *gasp*, Saran Wrap if they don’t have a dental dam. If they ask me about flavored lubes, I tell them to use them for outer sex only because the sugars can cause infections. If they tell me they’re worried about having an STI, I make them an appointment at the gay clinic to get tested. If they want to know what sexual activities come with the least amount of risk, I tell them about dry humping and mutual masturbation. You name it, I will discuss it. Right there, without judgement. I don’t lecture them about morality. I don’t judge them about their questions or choices. I respect their intelligence enough to know they are aware of abstinence. And because I build that trust, they know they can come to me with anything and I’ll offer them support and advice. That trust has put me in the position to have meaningful discussions about relationships, coercive sex, non-monogamy, and so much more with youth who don’t have a mature outlet for these very normalquestions and concerns. If they didn’t feel safe to come to me or another adult at our center, they might get some dubious or false information from their peers or online.
Your top concern as a parent, guardian, or caretaker of children should be their safety and happiness. Discussing safe, positive, consensual sex and masturbation with kids in your care is an important part of helping them find that safety and happiness. And doing so without judgement or fear lets them know your support is unconditional. Your kids are going to have sex. Wouldn’t you rather they discuss it with you first and get the best information they can before they do? It will be awkward at first, but it’s a lot less awkward than some of the side effects that can happen from unsafe sex. So the only outrage you should feel about PRYSM answering your kid’s question is that your child didn’t feel like they could ask you, Mr. and Mrs. uptight-sex-negative-Christian Parent.