Uncomplicated Sexuality Topics for Positive Teen Growth

Nov 30, 2021

by Camille Everett

Creator of Be That Place

Handwritten notes and lunchtime chats from students kickstarted Camille's mission to help families teach sex ed at home. She is a graduate of Utah State University with a bachelor’s in Secondary Health & English Education. She loves having real conversations while devouring bowls of chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

A teen taking a selfie with sexual movie poster.

There’s a lot of controversy about the sexuality topics teens should be learning in these vulnerable years.

Our feelings and opinions are based on our own experiences with sexuality, our values and beliefs, and our attitudes about who is in charge of teaching our youth at such an impressionable stage of life.

It’s just downright complicated because there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the various needs that our youth have.

But even in this dilemma there is one thing that is absolute for EVERY youth — parents can be strong advocates for their own child’s healthy sexual development. In fact, they need to be.

Whether a teen happens to be sexually active or not, ALL teens are receiving strong and relentless sexual messages that are flat out lies. And these lies can be dangerous and crippling to a developing awareness of healthy sexuality.

Curiosity and sexuality

Most young teens are naturally curious about sexuality topics. It’s normal and healthy to be curious because sexuality plays a role in why people choose to develop relationships with other significant people in their lives. It has a lot to do with how we connect with the people around us.

Sexual development during adolescence is a combination of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional, and social growth. It includes emerging sexual attitudes, feelings, identity, values, and behaviors. It is also influenced by the actions and attitudes of family and friends, religious and cultural beliefs, and real and virtual environments.

Positive sexual growth means that young teens are learning about sexual information, attitudes and behaviors from accurate sources. They are understanding how to separate genuinely healthy, fulfilling and intimate sexual behaviors from sexual fiction, fantasies, and entertainment in media, songs, advertising, images and pornography.

So how do they find sources of good information? 

From you, hopefully. 

If you’re serious about laying the groundwork for a healthy sexual future for your son or daughter, you really need to be in the parenting trenches. You need to establish yourself as one of the best sources of sexual information — and a reliable critic of sexual misinformation.

Bring up the conversation often. Point out examples of positive and negative sexuality in media and in the news. Keep the conversation casual and simple. Ask lots of questions about what your young teen thinks about the sexual messages and behaviors they observe. Identify books and websites that are good sources of information for your teen.

Be open and honest with any question your teen might ask. Don’t assume that just because they are asking that they are engaging in sexual behaviors. Be there for them no matter what, and they’ll continue to come to you because they feel safe and understood.

Conversations encourage positive sexual growth

Find opportunities in everyday moments to bring up sexuality topics in conversation. These opportunities are ever present when watching media, surfing the internet, engaging in social media, using personal devices, hearing stories on the news, talking about peers and friends, asking about the school environment, and discussing what is learned in school classes.

Sexual attitudes include…

  • Effect of sexual behavior on communities and the world at large
  • Pornography, sexting, and masturbation
  • Sexually active teenagers
  • Sexual behavior and the possibility of pregnancy and STI’s
  • Engaging in non-intercourse sexual behaviors (kissing, fondling, petting, nudity, oral/anal sex)

Ask questions like…

  • How do sexual behaviors and attitudes affect families and communities?
  • How do you think pornography changes a person’s views about sex? 
  • Do you think it’s ok for someone to say no to sex even when the other person really wants to have sex?
  • Do you think it’s wise for teens to experiment with different types of sexual behaviors?

Sexual feelings include…

  • Wondering if they’re normal or how they compare to peers
  • Peer pressure to engage in sexual behaviors
  • Feeling positive about their emerging sexuality as an adolescent
  • Understanding the difference between feeling arousal and acting on arousal

Ask questions like…

  • Do you know people your age that are sexually active? Why do you think they’re making that choice?
  • Do you feel pressure to be sexually active?
  • Can a person feel positive about their sexuality and not be sexually active at the same time?
  • You may feel sexually aroused sometimes. How do you feel when that happens? What do you do about it?

Sexual identity includes…

  • Changing bodies and body image
  • Sexual orientation and related attraction
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual stereotypes

Ask questions like…

  • How do you feel about how your body is changing? 
  • Do you have any questions about sexual attraction and who else contributes to this feeling?
  • What are your feelings about gender and why is it important for us to feel comfortable with who we are?
  • How do we make sense of how sexual stereotypes influence what we think about sexuality?

Sexual values include…

  • When sexual intimacy is appropriate within a relationship
  • Purpose of sexual intimacy
  • Recognizing our responsibilities as sexually active individuals
  • Religious or cultural beliefs about premarital sex

Ask questions like…

  • When is it appropriate for two people to engage in sexual behavior?
  • Does sexual intimacy have a bigger purpose than just a few minutes of enjoyment?
  • How does a person prepare to make the choice and handle the consequences of sexual activity?
  • Do you think it is ok to have premarital sex? Why or why not?

Sexual behaviors include…

  • Communication and consent
  • Choosing to engage or not to engage in sexual activities
  • Understanding the consequences of pornography and other forms of sexual fiction
  • Identifying appropriate ways of showing affection within a non-sexual relationship

Ask questions like…

  • Do you understand what consent means and why it’s important for sexual safety?
  • Do you think it’s important to set clear sexual boundaries for yourself?  
  • What would you do if you came across pornography? What if your friends wanted to share porn?
  • I’ve noticed you and (?) are getting really close. What do you like doing when you’re together?