A letter to parents everywhere

Dear Friends,

I’ll be frank: I understand that the young people in your family are probably very busy, far too busy to enroll in another class.  I know your kids are going to be tapped-to-the-extreme this year.  I also know that most – not all, but most – young people have an absolute need to have conversations about sexuality outside of their immediate family in order to feel comfortable asking the questions they need to ask.  Many young people are not even fully aware of their quietness around the topic until they come into a space that truly draws them out.  Giving young people a familiarity of holding conversations with their peers and adults other than their immediate family (including teachers like me and my co-teacher) will allow them to feel far more comfortable in all situations when topics of sex and sexuality come up.

In my classes with high school students, I focus a lot of our time on how to make sexual decisions, how to stay true to those decisions, and how to be clear with partners about personal boundaries.  Here are a few of the other topics we cover:

  • drugs and alcohol and how they affect decision making
  • all of the many ways to express sexuality, and how to make those expressions be as safe as possible
  • how to handle sexual situations that are going badly – how and when to speak up, how to be safe, and how and where to seek help afterwards.

These are intense topics, but ones that are critical to discuss openly, both among peers and with adult supervision.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times about how it important it is to hold these conversations with peers.  This is very important feature that a sexuality classroom setting offers young people because it gives them a chance to see that their very private thoughts and feelings can be heard in an open manner.  It will allow them to grow in their confidence in having these conversations among their peers, and give them the understanding that they can find peers who will accept them – and if they find themselves among peers who don’t, they will have an inner awareness that they should look for a different group to spend their time with.  My co-teacher and I pay particular attention to the conversations within the classes, making sure they are respectful and honest and accepting.  We challenge students who are not able to hear their peers in this way, holding them responsible for their language and reactions until they move past that block into a more open place.

I cannot tell you how often my college human sexuality students tell me they wish they had a course like this one before they began college.  The true sense of self-efficacy around the topic of sexuality that my students gain is substantial, and will have a deep and lasting influence on their intimate relationships.

In short, I know that a comprehensive sexuality class would benefit all high school students.  If you would like to follow up with me in more detail, please feel free.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.