A few months ago, in He Said, She Said: 10 Things We Wish Sex Ed Taught Us, I explored the current state of sex ed with 10 of my favorite sex educators.
I readily admit, before launching Lucky Bloke, I had assumed that (aside from misinformation generously offered by older siblings, friends, and media) at least at school, most teenagers were presented with a kind of mandatory, more or less mediocre, sex ed.
What I quickly learned is that even today, many teenagers aren't provided with even the basic kind of info many high school sex ed classes offer. For the vast majority, it is actually non-existent.
For example, only 22 states in the U.S. mandate sex ed, and of those, a mere 12 mandate sex ed that is medically accurate! And that's just accounting for the United States!
This is especially unacceptable in light of the fact that teens who have received comprehensive sex education are more likely to use condoms and other contraceptives -- resulting in lower rates of unintended pregnancies and STDs. Further, they develop healthier sexual attitudes and practices -- and as adults, enjoy healthier sexual relationships. For just a sampling of the data we have on all that, you can start by looking here, here, and here.
And we know that negative outcomes are far more likely to occur without such information and support. It is simply not okay that young people today should go without accurate and inclusive sexual health information: they have the need, and we have the information to give and a myriad of ways to provide it accessibly.
And it's also why, while you may never heard of Scarleteen before, I think it is critically important that you do. Scarleteen provides relevant sex ed information to millions of young people every year:
"I was told that Scarleteen is the best place on the Internet for sexual health info, and I see now that they were completely right. It's the scariest feeling in the world to not know what's going on with your own body, and even worse to feel like you have no one you can talk to about it." - Anon
""[Scarleteen] is probably the best resource of its kind. I only recently came across the site and since I'm at the end of my teen years, I just wish I had found it when I was younger. This straight-up information has guided me in many different situations and has been there for me in times when I had questions. This type of sexual health information has been absent from school sex education and even from other internet sources where it should be readily available. I am so lucky, as are all readers of Scarleteen, that this website exists and can provide facts to those who need them." - R.
For over 15 years, Scarleteen.com has provided their high quality service for free to millions of young people around the world. Surprisingly, they have, so far, even managed to do so without any government, foundational or corporate funding.
In order to keep their services independent and freely available, they rely on donors. Individuals who probably needed this kind of education, information and support themselves once and recognize the critical information and essential service Scarleteen offers.
The sex ed provided by Scarleteen is ideally paired with compassionate communication from parents and guardians, as well as medically accurate sex ed and health information from school, community services and healthcare providers. Homeschooling parents use Scarleteen as curricula for sex education, and colleges frequently add their articles to their sexuality syllabi.
Heather Corinna, founder of Scarleteen says it best:
"While we strongly support and advocate for in-school and at-home comprehensive and inclusive sexuality education, we also recognize that there are many young people without access to one or both. It's been challenging because providing good sex ed to young people, particularly such a diverse population of young people, is a hard job, especially when you have to try and do that job while endlessly lobbying for the right and the means to do it at the same time. And it's been challenging because for a long time, and sometimes still, people think that if most of the work you do is on the internet, it's not real work and doesn't cost anything."
As thinking adults who fully comprehend the great benefits of a healthy, informed sex-positive world, it is imperative to keep the conversation going and make the young adults in our lives aware of the resources that Scarleteen has to offer. I urge you to check Scarleteen out. You'll be glad you did.