I have two middle school sexuality classes running right now – one on Wednesday nights and one on Thursday nights. One of my classes was initially hesitant about jumping into the conversation – the other one leapt into deep conversation about the inherent nature of sexuality.

Here are some of the topics and questions raised by the more hesitant class this week:

  • Why it is that penises get hard and how to deal with it in embarrassing moments.
  • The benefits and drawbacks of plastic pads, cloth pads, tampons, and moon cups.  (This was accompanied by examples of all of the above, plus a bowl of water for experimenting.)
  • What is rape, and how does it apply to adults versus children?

Here are some of the topics and questions raised by the less hesitant class this week:

  • Whether sexuality is something that is more focused on procreation or intimacy building within human beings, particularly as compared to other mammals, and how this impacts our decision making.
  • Whether consensual BDSM should be considered something that is necessarily part of an unhealthy sexual relationship or if under certain circumstances if it can be healthy.  (And what those circumstances might be.)
  • How religion restricts female sexuality and female decision making and whether these kinds of restrictions can be freely chosen by women or if because of the restrictions put on women through these religions they are necessarily unable to be chosen freely.

And while your middle schooler might not actually be thinking about these issues, it is clear that his or her friends might very well be, and so the topics might be being raised around your middle schooler.  This means they need to have conversations with adults about these topics so that they are better able to navigate their conversations with peers!

Great, important questions for young people to know, all of them!  I can hear some of you (Ruth) asking for me to explain in detail all of my answers to these questions and concerns.  But this is a tall order!  This second group of questions are particularly heady – and I don’t want to disservice them with shorty or pithy answers.  Volumes of writing and art are dedicated to these very topics every year.

Nevertheless, on Monday I will give a relatively short answer for each of these so you can have at least a taste of how I approach these issues in class!