As many young people and their families are getting ready for a new school year, many folks are looking for ways to ensure that sexual health information and sex education don’t get left out of virtual learning. Now more than ever in this new virtual learning environment we must ensure that young people and their families have access to sex education that gives them the skills and knowledge they need to make healthy decisions about their bodies and relationships. Research shows that parents, guardians, and trusted adults want to be able to have these ongoing conversations, but some adults feel like they don’t have the knowledge and skills to have these types of discussions. Our blog this month focuses on providing information and resources about how to provide comprehensive sexual health and sex education at home. Don’t worry, we are here to help!
Begin by normalizing conversations about sexual health, sex, and sexuality with the young people in your life. Whether you are a parent, guardian, or a trusted adult, it’s important to remember that these conversations are ongoing. Doing a little bit at a time is easier than planning one big “talk”. Don’t try to “catch-up” all at once – that can be overwhelming! Use teachable moments and make it clear to the young people in your life that they can ask you questions or come to you for support without fear or shame or judgment. One way to normalize conversations is to remain open and honest when a young person asks a question – validate that their question is normal and thank them for their question. It’s important to also confirm and/or clarify that you understand the question being asked as well as to find out what the young person thinks about the question or what they may already know.
There are many online resources that can help with starting or continuing these dialogues. Be sure to revisit some of our previous blogs for more information on answering tough questions, the importance of inclusive destigmatizing language, as well as reviewing common myths among youth that can be used as conversation starters.
- Answering Tough Questions
- Language Matters: Combating Stigma Through Adjusted Language
- Common Myths Among Youth
Additionally, the Responsible Sex Education Insitute (RSEI) is about to release our Talk is Power workbook that can be used to help support and guide these conversations at home! The Talk is Power workbook is a downloadable pdf that brings together different types of readings, activities, and resources that will help parents and guardians begin and/or improve communication about sex, sexual health, and sexuality. This self-guided workbook is divided into seven different sections – ranging from Sexuality 101, Values, Healthy Relationships, LGBTQ topics, as well as navigating the impacts of technology when it comes to sexual health and relationships. Each section contains readings and worksheets that are meant for trusted adults to do on their own as they prepare for these conversations. Additionally, you will find activities to do as a family. It’s highly encouraged to use the workbook as a conversation starter tool, engaging youth by asking them what they are interested in starting with first. The TIP workbook will be available for purchase by the end of September right here on our website, just click over to the shop!
Part of providing sex education at home also involves having an understanding of your personal values and those of your family around sex and sexuality. It’s important to remember that our values impact the way we as trusted adults hear/receive the question being posed by a young person, and they also influence the information we give or the way we answer. As you prepare to have these conversations at home, reflect on and explore your own values to have a better understanding of how to approach these conversations in a way that validates a young person’s values — even if those values are different from your own. It’s important to know and be ready to answer questions that may be out of your comfort zone – like navigating the impacts of technology on relationships or issues that have to do with gender, sexuality, and the LGBTQ community.
Lastly, we want to remind young people and trusted adults that the Responsible Sex Education Institute is a text away if you have any questions!
- TALK is our sexual health line that supports parents and guardians. All you have to do is text the keyword “TALK” to 57890 to opt in to our free text line (standard text messaging rates may apply). Once opted in, text us your questions and one of our sexperts will respond to you within 24 hours!
- In Case You’re Curious, or simply ICYC, is our sexual health text line for teens. Young people can text the keyword “ICYC” to 57890. Folks will receive a response from a sex educator at RSEI within 24hrs. All texts are free and confidential.