Parents talk teen sex ed

  • Peer Health Educator and Homer High student Lilli Johnson talks to parents about talking to their teens. Johnson presented at the parent night with peer health educators Zane Boyer and Shenandoah Lush.-Photo by Anna Frost, Homer News

Parents of Homer teens listened attentively, and some a little anxiously, as three teens and two adults broached the awkward topic of discussing sex with their kids. 

The night’s goal, however, was to make this topic a lot less scary and uncomfortable for everyone.

“Sex is difficult for a lot of people to talk about. In our culture, it is everywhere, we see it everywhere, but we don’t talk about it all the time, or even often enough,” said Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic Youth Health Educator Anna Meredith as she started off the talk.

Those who attended the Jan. 7 parent night on teen sexual health at Homer Flex learned facts and statistics, communication techniques, and even enjoyed a few laughs. Meredith and peer coordinator Doug Koester presented to parents the idea that talking about sex is important, not just for this time in their teen’s life, but to prepare them for a safe and healthy adulthood as well. 

The evening was facilitated by Homer Flex’s mental health counselor, Agusta Lind, who has been organizing parent outreach nights on various topics such as parent-teen communication and adolescent brain development. Lind echoed Meredith and Koester’s idea that teenage sexual education is about preparation for all stages of life. 

“It’s important because some adolescents, they are going to experiment. It’s the time of life when people do. And to say that abstinence is going to work for every teen is not going to work. So we’d like to give them options, and not only for this time in their life but for later in life as well. There’s lots of options out there just to be healthy and make healthy choices concerning sexuality,” Lind said.

As educators in the classroom at the middle and high school in Homer, the staff of Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic wanted to communicate to parents about the information their students are taught. They teach according to the school’s district’s standards, and also make it clear to students that their families’ beliefs should be respected.

“We are big in the classroom to make sure that they understand that we honor their parents’ beliefs and their families’ beliefs and whoever the safe adults are. We are inclusive in our language that we’re using. We’re very aware of using inclusive language and everything from faith-based to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer),” Meredith said. 

Alongside Meredith and Koester were three Homer High School students who work at the REC (Resource and Enrichment Co-op) Room as youth peer educators — Shenandoah Lush, Lilli Johnson and Zane Boyer — who often took the lead on subjects such as the adolescent brain or how sex education benefited their peers. They also promoted the REC Room as a safe space for teens to spend time after school with their peers, and encouraged curious parents to come have a look for themselves. 

With the rise of Internet and smartphone use, teens have more access to misinformation than ever, so it is important for them to get evidence-based information from reliable sources, Koester said. Meredith and Koester emphasized that sex education does not cause teens to have sex. However for those who do begin engaging in sexual experimentation, it is important for them to know how to take care of themselves. 

Though sexual health such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection prevention is a part of this, Meredith and Koester also talked about healthy relationships, pornography’s effect on teenagers’ sexual expectations and the definition of consent. 

Parents with questions concerning Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic teen education outreach by and the REC Room are encouraged to contact the organization by phone, 235-3436, or in-person at 3959 Ben Walters Lane, Homer. 

Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.


Resources for Parents, Teens

Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic:
kbfpc.org, 235-3436

Answer:  

answer.rutgers.edu/page/parentresources

Advocates for Youth Parents Sex Ed Center:

advocatesforyouth.org/parents

Youth sexual education information, run by Alaska Tribal Health Consortium:

iknowmine.org

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Adolescent and School Health:

cdc.gov/healthyyouth/

Dating violence education site for teens:

thatsnotcool.com


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