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A Family Affair: One Brother, One Sister and Sex, Etc.

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By , 17, Contributor Originally Published: March 6, 2015 Revised: March 11, 2015

When I first learned that my sister, Jenny, wanted to write for Sex, Etc. magazine, I was immediately a little freaked out. A magazine that teaches people about sexual health and sexuality? Was she going to go all “health teacher” on me over dinner? To me, topics like sexually transmitted diseases, safer sex and pregnancy were just not things that you talk about, unless they were directly affecting you or you were in health class. But even then, you only spoke about them in a whisper or with stifled giggles. Like lots of other teens, I live in a household where anything having to do with sexuality isn’t discussed. Not only did I believe sexuality to be a taboo topic, but I also didn’t think it was very relevant to my life. If it were, wouldn’t my parents have spoken to me about it? So voluntarily writing about sex ed just seemed kind of strange to me.

I’m glad that my older sister and I are not “most siblings.” Her openness and willingness to answer my questions have definitely had a big influence on my desire to educate others and also advocate for more comprehensive sexuality education for all teens.

How Did I Get Here?

Right about now, you may be wondering how exactly I came to be writing this piece that you are reading. My ambivalent feelings toward sexuality education began to change when my sister’s involvement with Sex, Etc. made me realize just how much information I had been missing out on all of these years and how important it is that all teens, including me, are educated about sex, sexuality and sexual health.

I remember having a conversation about gender identity with a friend and not knowing anything about it at all. I felt so ignorant when it came to using proper terminology. For example, I didn’t know the difference between gender and sex. I confused being transgender with identifying as gay or lesbian, and I used the wrong pronoun several times to refer to a genderqueer peer until a Sex, Etc. article I read in health class cleared it up for me. Then, I started to realize that a lot of my friends in school were spouting false information, too. Suddenly, I began to see the importance of what my sister was doing by writing stories the educated people about sex and sexuality.

Following in Her Footsteps

When I ask my sister why she wanted to write for Sex, Etc., she says, “It’s sad that teens can still be so clueless about something as basic as their own bodies, even though we live in an age where information is literally available [with] the tap of a finger…. I want to contribute to a conversation where teens feel like they are entitled to and have ready access to information about their sexuality.” I absolutely agree. Teens often don’t realize how relevant the issues discussed in sex ed classes are to their daily lives. I wanted to change that.

“I do believe that teens like you who advocate for better sexuality education and publications like Sex, Etc. are helping to change the lack of information. So of course I’m happy for you,” Jenny says when I ask her what she thinks of me writing for Sex, Etc. 

Topics of conversation between most siblings don’t usually overlap with a lecture in health class, but I’m glad that my older sister and I are not “most siblings.” Her openness and willingness to answer my questions have definitely had a big influence on my desire to educate others and also advocate for more comprehensive sexuality education for all teens. I’m glad that I’m lucky enough to have all this accurate information now. And what’s even better is that, as a writer for Sex, Etc., I am able to spread this information to others who might not have a sibling like mine.

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