Monday, February 22, 2010

Lessons from the Field

I've been giving a lot of speeches lately.

In just the past two weeks, I've been to three states. I've spoken for an afternoon with a group of United Methodist church teenagers. I was one of the speakers at Yale Sex Week. I met with a group of senior high school women at Emma Willard School. I spoke to 200 parents this past weekend in a suburb outside of Minneapolis.

And I am reminded once again of how hungry people of all ages are for good information about sexuality -- and for support for moral, ethical sexual decision making. Teenagers need basic information they are missing (one anonymous question asked if one could cause an abortion by hitting one's ovaries). Parents need encouragement to talk to their children (one parent said to me this weekend, "my daughter is 11; she's too innocent for me to talk to her. I know I need to get to menstruation soon.")

But, more they need support for clarifying their own values and ethics. The high school teens and the college students are struggling with the hook up culture that seems to be present. At least one in every six anonymous questions I got with the teenagers had to do with hook ups "gone wrong" or why was it that someone hadn't called the next day. The girls didn't believe that boys could fall in love. It made me sad for them.

I'm always most moved by the people who seek me out alone after the sessions are ended. One mid twenties man wanted to know if sexuality wasn't inherently sinful. A parent wanted to talk about their middle school child who seemed to be having too many partners. A young woman worried about going to college without having had the chance to kiss someone. Another parent worried about how problems in her marriage were going to affect her children.

It is a privilege and a blessing to do this work. I hope you have the information and support you need.

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