Dear Ask a Girl,
I’m 13 and I think I’m bisexual. I’ve liked boys before, but now I have a crush on a girl. This girl keeps me awake at night and I can’t seem to keep myself from thinking about what others would say if I asked her out. I know she supports homosexuality, and so does my family. I adore her so much it hurts sometimes! I would really like to ask her to be my girlfriend, but I am so worried about what she’ll say or do. This has been going on for two months and the headaches and stomachaches are getting worse! HELP!
You can imagine my reaction! This was for preteen girls! And you are correct if you guessed I immediately pulled out the credit card and ordered a subscription for my daughter. Really. Best $34.95 I spent this week. This is exactly the kind of thing I want my daughter to be reading.
Why you ask? Mostly because I want to start conversations with my kids about things that are hard for them and me enter into conversations about. With my boys we watched all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, along with a strictly enforced rule that after the show we would have a 15 minute discussion on the episode. It opened up conversations with my kids that would not have happened otherwise. When Willow came out as an openly gay character I had some of the best and most meaningful discussions I’d ever had with my teenagers about issues I know would not have come up otherwise. Buffy introduced us to homosexuality, race relations (why were even good demons so demonized?), friendship issues, premarital teen sex, revenge, stake vs. sword. It was great. My dinner-time attempts of, “So, how about that homosexuality stuff.” largely got red-faced eye rolls. Yet filtered through Buffy (and under the tutelage of LDS writer Jana Riess’ wonderful book What Would Buffy Do? The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide) we had a grand time learning lessons about morality and ethics. Plus it was the finest show ever made. I still get misty when I realize it’s gone.
It reminds me of the elementary school sex education my kids attended when we lived in North Carolina. Somehow when I mention this in the Valley they picture a smirking teacher explaining condom use and masturbation techniques. But that’s not how it went down. It was wonderful, brilliant, enlightening, and important. The Sex Ed section, which lasted two weeks, started with a parent-teacher meeting in which detailed materials were handed out to us—including what pictures and graphics would be shown to the children during each of the upcoming two week’s lessons. We were free to pull our children out of any individual section or for the whole thing if we desired. Everyday for homework the kids were required to sit down with their parents and go through a checklist of topics that were covered in the day’s session. This gave parents a chance to add a moral dimension to the topic and teach the children their own values. Because we had a list of pre-assigned topics and outlines of the lessons, the talks were natural, deep, and meaningful.
Nearly all the other LDS couples in the school pulled their kids out for the entire thing. What a missed opportunity.
So no sex education in Utah elementary schools. (A former faculty member friend of mine in the Health Education Department called it a travesty and a massive educational failure in Utah). Thank goodness I found New Moon Girls to fill in the gaps until my daughter is old enough to watch Buffy.