Ep 47: Sex Positive Education for Teens

Gia Lynne, author of On Blossoming, thinks the current model of sex education does more harm than good. In this episode, she reveals how to adopt a "pleasure-focused", or "sex positive education", approach instead. Use these tips to set your teen up for sexual success.

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Full show notes

Words like sex and sexuality can sometimes make us squirm. There’s a lot of social stigma when it comes to talking about the birds and the bees in our society, and when it comes time to give our kids a sex positive education, it’s not always easy to find the words. This is especially true when we consider that teens aren’t always open to taking advice from their parents on any topic, let alone something as personal as sex!

If we don’t provide our kids with sex positive education, however, we may put them at especially high risk for certain problems. If they’re not informed by a trusted adult about the dangers of irresponsible intercourse, they may be more inclined to have unprotected sex, or simply may not approach the act with as much caution as they should.

Gia Lynne, our guest today, is here to share her wisdom on sex positive education. She’s the author of On Blossoming: Frank and Practical Advice on Our Bodies, Sexual Health, Sensuality, Pleasure, Orgasm, and More. She’s got a lot of great ideas to help us approach these delicate subjects with ease, and clears up some misconceptions we have might about sex that could be harmful.

Sexuality vs. Sensuality

When it comes to sex positive education, one of the things Gia speaks most passionately about is the difference between sexuality and sensuality. The difference lies in purpose. To Gia, sexuality has the ultimate goal of reproduction. It treats sex as a biological process, not a pleasurable experince primarily embarked upon for enjoyment. Sensuality, on the other hand, emphasizes being present, enjoying the sensations of a sexual experience, including the before, during, and after. It’s about the journey, not the end point.

It’s like a symphony, Gia explains. We don’t buy expensive tickets, get dressed up, and have a night out just to go and hear the final chord being played. We come to the symphony to hear the entire thing, to enjoy crescendos, interludes, high and low notes. It’s more than just the final result--it’s an experience.

So, how is this idea important when it comes to giving our kids a sex positive education? Gia explains that it’s tied to the pressures young people feel nowadays surrounding sexual activity. Teenagers are often wondering if they’re old enough, to start experimenting with sex, if they’re doing it with the right person, if they will be judged for their behavior. They sometimes think there’s a kind of invisible standard that they have to match up to in order to have sex “correctly.”

Adding to this is the pressure young people feel around the word: “virginity.” Teenagers often get caught up with the idea of losing the title of “virgin” or gaining some kind of catharsis after losing their virginity. However, this can lead to a lot of self-esteem issues, and may convince some teenagers that they need to rush into having sex before they’re ready or before they meet the right person.

By emphasizing the value of sensuality in a sex positive education, we can help teenagers understand that sex isn’t about other peoples opinions or unrealistic standards. It’s about having a pleasurable, caring, gentle experience with somebody you love. It doesn’t have to include penetration, doesn’t have to be between a man and a woman. As long as you practice safety and consent and both participants are treated with respect, sex can be whatever you like it to be.

Starting Conversations

Gia talks about how her book can be used to initiate conversation between you and your teenager about these tricky topics. When you give them the book, let them know that they can always ask you questions about what they read. Alternatively, you could sit down with your teenager on a regular basis and talk to them about the different chapters of the book. If you’re nervous about going into these sex positive education talks without any precedent, use the information provided in the book as a jumping off point!

You may be asking, what topic from the book would be a good place to start to give my teen a sex positive education? Glad you asked. One issue that Gia encourages to discuss is masturbation. While it can be one of the most uncomfortable things to discuss with your child, it can help them have a better understanding of their own body and teach that it is a totally normal part of life.

You may have difficulty with the word “masturbation” itself––it can feel pretty awkward to say to anyone, especially to your teenager! As silly as it may seem, Gia suggests spending some time saying the word on your own to yourself so that when it comes to the talk with your teen, it’ll roll off the tongue a little easier. Alternatively, she mentions how growing up, she was so embarrassed to talk about it with her parents that they labelled it, “the m-word.” Even though they didn’t use the word itself, they were able to discuss the concept, which is what truly matters when it comes to a sex positive education.

One really important thing, Gia says, is to have these talks early and often. By giving your chid a sex positive education while they’re still young. It helps them normalize the idea of sex instead of creating shame or guilt around it, and helps establish the importance of safe sex early on.

You don’t necessarily have to come right out and discuss sex and all it’s intricacies right away; start with helping your kid understand their body’s reactions to nonsexual stimuli or even help them practice saying yes and no to things they do or don’t want—essentially normalizing the idea of consent. That way, when they do become sexually active, they’ll be more familiar with their own bodies and feelings.

Ongoing Conversation

Gia shares an interesting observation from her father when she started dating her first boyfriend in high school. She had been spending a lot of time with her new boyfriend when her father confronted her, saying that as soon as she starts dating someone, she stops spending time with her family. Gia was shocked to hear this, and didn’t really notice there was a problem.

You can prevent this by having talks early with your teenager, and by creating a strong, nonjudgmental relationship with them. By always checking in and showing your teen that you care, you can build a bond that isn’t broken when your teenager starts dating.

More From Gia

Gia’s interesting perspective on sex positive education and genuine regard for teenagers’ wellbeing shines through in today’s episode. She’s here to help your teenager understand their sexuality, and to guide you as a parent through this confusing time. In this episode, we cover:
  • Gia’s unique, progressive childhood and how it informed her ideas about sex
  • Why the traditional Masters and Johnson’s model of sexual pleasure is outdated
  • The idea of a “deliberate orgasm date”
  • How virginity is tied to outdated ideas about a woman’s worth
  • How to help your kids adopt a “pleasure” mindset about sex and life in general
If you love Gia’s advice on sex positive education, pick up her book today! You can also find her on her website Gialynne.com or on her Patreon, where she writes blog posts and conducts weekly livestreams about sexuality and sensuality. She’s also available on Instagram and Facebook and acts as a personal coach to help couples and families have productive discussions about sex.

Happy listening, and see you next week!

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Ep 47: Sex Positive Education for Teens
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