Date: June 15th, 2017
By: Kelly Connelly
At Healthy Teen Network, we are committed to a sex-positive, comprehensive approach to adolescent sexual health. The term “sex-positive” often has a different connotation for people. Although there are a number of ways you could define the term, one good definition is “involving having positive attitudes about sex and feeling comfortable with one’s own sexual identity and with the sexual behaviors of others.” When it comes to taking a sex-positive approach with teens—whether it’s young people you work with or ones you parent or care for—it’s helpful to know what the term means and what it doesn’t.
We’ve compiled this list of five resources and articles to give you a good overview of what it means to be sex-positive—and some ways to defend the importance of such an approach.
Have other ideas or resources to share? We would love to hear them in the comment section!
Keys to Youth-Friendly Services: Adopting a Sex-Positive Approach
This resource from International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) offers another way to explain sex-positivity: “Sex positivity is an attitude that celebrates sexuality as an enhancing part of life that brings happiness, energy and celebration. Sex-positive approaches strive to achieve ideal experiences, rather than solely working to prevent negative experiences. At the same time, sex-positive approaches acknowledge and tackle the various concerns and risks associated with sexuality without reinforcing fear, shame, or taboo of young people’s sexuality and gender inequality.” The publication also includes a table of obstacles to employing a sex-positive approach—with some suggested solutions—and a checklist of what constitutes a youth-friendly health professional.
Common Myths about Sex-Positivity
This resource from the Women and Gender Advocacy Center at Colorado State University debunks four myths you might hear when talking about being sex-positive. For instance, some people think that sex positivity is “about having lots of sex.” Not really! “The core of sex positivity is the idea of informed consent and agency within one’s own sexuality. For some people, this means having lots of sex. For other people it might mean abstaining. Sex positivity aims to remove stigma and shame from all sexual choices.”
Topics In Brief: Positive Sexuality
This online resource from ETR’s Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ReCAPP) includes definitions of positive sexuality as well as an overview of related issues. They also provide a variety of ways educators can promote positive sexuality and a list of helpful websites with more information on the topic.
3 Ways to Avoid Demonizing Your Teen’s Sexuality
This blog post from Everyday Feminism includes a few important ways parents can approach their teen’s sexuality in a positive way:
- Don’t deny the possibility that a teen can be queer;
- Avoid positioning your teen’s sexual desires as problematic and shameful; and
- Talk about sex–and when you do, make it positive.
Those are the ways in a nutshell—visit the blog for the how-to’s.
This Is What Sex-Positive Parenting Really Looks Like
Lea Grover, self-described “writer and toddler-wrangler” shares what being a sex-positive parent looks like from her personal perspective and experience. “I’m what some people call ‘sex-positive,’” she writes. “That doesn’t mean I talk with my 4-year-olds about how great sex is and how good it feels. It means I don’t pretend it’s something other than it is.”
About the Author
Healthy Teen Network Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Kelly Connelly, BA, is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer, and she is experienced at developing skills-building workshops and programs, for professionals as well as youth.