We’ve been talking a lot about sex in my house lately.
As my 10 year old son prepares to start college next year, he is becoming more and more curious about the body, puberty, and of course, sex. He’s not interested in having sex, he is quick to inform me – in fact, the first time I explained the physical machinations of sex, his first response was, “I don’t know, I’d rather play video games.”
But he is interested in agreement sex, a circumstance that led to a series of increasingly difficult questions to answer such as “But what is sperm see As?”
We looked together at a diagram of the inside of a penis. We discovered that the hole at the end of the penis is called the “urinary meatus”. I finally convinced him that a man doesn’t pee on a woman to make a baby. It was a crazy time.
I try to answer her questions as honestly as possible based on her age while using clinical and appropriate terms for body parts and sex acts. Sometimes I’m a little puzzled or mute by questions I hadn’t anticipated, like when he asked me how old you had to be to have sex. (I offered, “There’s no age limit, but you want to make sure you’re emotionally mature enough to handle it, that you’ve found someone you trust enough to take this step. and that you have the necessary information. Furthermore, sexual relations should never take place between children and adults.”
While it’s not always easy or comfortable to have these conversations, I like that my tween feels comfortable with himself and isn’t ashamed to approach me with any questions about sex. and sexuality. (Although I had to tell him recently that he doesn’t have to tell me every time he gets an erection.)
I have also, throughout his life, taken care not to assume my son’s sexuality; if we are talking about the idea of a future partner, I am referring to a potential “boyfriend or girlfriend”, “husband or wife”. He has queer people in his life and he knows other kids of gay parents. He knows about trans and non-binary people, and he once told me a great joke that said, “What are the pronouns of a chocolate bar?” Her, her.” The time he came home from school repeating what a boy had told him – “Boys can’t kiss” – I didn’t hesitate to tell him that, my dear , they can and they DO.
“What if my son turns out to be gay?” Wouldn’t my ability to provide LGBTQ-inclusive sex education be of paramount importance? »
I really am a parent who says gay, because my son’s sexual orientation (and potentially gender identity) has not yet been revealed to me, and it is imperative for me that he know that I do. love and support him no matter who he turns out to be attracted to.
So the other night when he asked me if two men could have sex together, I had no problem enthusiastically telling him, “Of course they can!” That’s when he asked me HOW they made things go wrong.
Stumbling over my words, I gracelessly gave him the main idea. (Clinically, and not in excessive detail, but he got the gist.)
Then I immediately started to question my decision. I should have said something nebulous like “People have different ways of kissing and touching,” I thought to myself, feeling the itchy discomfort of sharing too much with another mother at the time. football training.
So later, when he thought of asking me how two women do it, I kind of pawned him off with a non-answer and sent him to bed. (But not before he asked me if I had never done, to which I responded with a quick, slightly panicked “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS”, which I stand by.)
The next day, I was still thinking about our conversation and sat with a vague feeling that I hadn’t handled it properly.
In light of Florida’s recently passed “Parental Rights in Education” law, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in popular lexicon, there has been much discussion about how proponents assume this discussion of the existence of sexual acts. gender orientation or identity and related topics are somehow sexual in nature and therefore inappropriate for children. It’s wrong.
Knowing that some families have two moms or two dads is not sexual information. Young children don’t sexualize things that way, and there’s nothing fundamentally wrong or wrong about knowing that LGBTQ+ people exist.
But what about when children are old enough to be taught about sex? (And experts agree that these conversations are perfectly appropriate for children between the ages of 9 and 12, or even younger, especially as they enter puberty.)
If my son is old enough to have gotten a candid explanation of the mechanics of straight sex, why did I feel so uncomfortable giving him the same information about queer sex? Especially if you consider that sexual acts committed by homosexual people are also practiced by heterosexuals.
Somehow, when he asked me about two men together, the same information just instinctively felt more, well, sexual.
I had to watch this discomfort. How could someone so well-meaning and liberal and frankly not even quite right as I fell into the idea that gay sex is somehow dirtier or less appropriate to talk about than straight sex?
“If my son is old enough to have gotten a candid explanation of the mechanics of straight sex, why did I feel so uncomfortable giving him the same information about queer sex?”
And I don’t think I’m alone. When I started researching the subject, I found a lot of information on how to explain the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity to children, but almost nothing about their talk about queer sex, at any age.
What if my son turns out to be gay? Wouldn’t my ability to provide LGBTQ-inclusive sex education be of paramount importance then? Don’t I want my son to be sexually prepared, informed, and given the information he needs to stay safe, regardless of his sexual orientation? Who would tell her about things like anal play safety and dental dams?
Not necessarily the teachers at his school. According to the 2019 GLSEN National School Climate Survey, only 8.2% of students (including those who received no sex education at school) “received LGBTQ-inclusive sex education, which included positive representations LGB and transgender and non-binary identities and topics”.
As a high school student who identifies as a lesbian told The Atlantic in a 2017 article on LGBTQ-inclusive sex education, “We were told about types of protection for heterosexual couples, but never about protection options for couples homosexuals/lesbians”.
Despite my attempts to stop myself from assuming my son’s heterosexuality, when I half-answered his questions about gay sex, wasn’t I just assuming that was information he didn’t know about? didn’t need? If I really considered the possibility that my son wasn’t straight, wouldn’t I have answered him differently? Quite sneaky, heteronormativity.
The more I googled and the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I was wrong. Fortunately, this is not an uncommon experience for a parent. I make mistakes all the time, and when I do, I find it very helpful to model my ability to admit it, take responsibility, and apologize.
So last night around bedtime, when all the most important conversations seem to be happening, I came home.
“Last night you asked me about how two men and two women have sex together,” I told her, “and I think I felt a little uncomfortable, or nervous, and I didn’t really answer what you asked. But I thought about it more and realized that if you’re old enough to know how straight people have sex, there’s no reason you can’t be old enough to know how gay people have sex. sexual. So we can talk about the different ways gay people have sex together, which, by the way, are also ways straight people have sex together, and I’ll answer all your questions.
There was nothing dirty or inappropriate about the conversation we had, and in the end, he just wanted to know what actions could lead to pregnancy, which, hey ― is really important information to have!
He even made me proud when he went from a reaction of “Wow, that’s so weird” to “Actually, that just wasn’t what I expected. I shouldn’t call it weird”, in less than 3 seconds without a prompt.
Perhaps as importantly, I told him that I felt uncomfortable talking about all of this because of a bias I had, and everyone has biases, but we need to investigate them and try to overcome them when they arise.
I hope this is a lesson we can all take to heart because the core belief that contributes to my unease around the subject of talking to my son about gay sex seems to me to be on the same continuum of ideas that fuel the Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay”. and copy invoices.
To be clear, I don’t think we should be educating young children on how anyone has sex. But just as gay people are not inherently inappropriate and education on LGBTQ topics is not inherently sexual, providing gay sex education to children who are old enough for sex education doesn’t get any dirtier than feeding them information about straight sex.
And in the case of LGBTQ children, this can be vital.
Emily McCombs is the associate editor of HuffPost Personal. She writes and edits first-person essays on all topics, including identity (race, gender, sexuality, etc.), love and relationships, sex, parenting and family, addiction and mental health, and body politics.
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