How to Talk to Your 5-Year-Old Kid About Sex

I don’t think any sane, healthy adult wants to teach a 5 year old how to give blowjobs. Classrooms in my hometown, Chicago Public Schools, are adding sex education for kindergarten students. (Yes, adding sex ed to curriculum, not mandating, because parents and guardians can still opt out.) In my career, I’ve instructed and directly managed hundreds of comprehensive sex education courses for thousands of K-12 children. I’ve also helped their moms, dads, guardians, uncles, aunts, and other adults discuss it with them. The problem with sex ed in America is this: Americans are relatively uncomfortable with sex. “If we start talking to kids about it,” the logic often goes, “they’ll start doing it or, maybe, we’ll just introduce them to too much information too fast. Why the hell does a 5-year-old kid need to know about sex, anyway?!”

If you want the straight dope on sex ed for tots, here’s what’s going on. People who actually know what the hell they’re talking about — folks like Advocates for Youth, answer, and SIECUS — released The National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12  “to provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum, core content for sexuality education.” The guidelines are divided by age and grade. Thankful to use something that actually works, schools in Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere, are aligning their curricula with the new standards. The intended outcomes? Better sex education. Fewer teen pregnancies. More kids who don’t contract HIV. This is all good.

Image by Kenny Lam

Image by Kenny Lam

The idea is that this stuff is additive over time. If you expect a pre-teen boy to “get” why gooey stuff will shoot out of his penis, it’s helpful if he understands sperm and reproduction. If you expect a pre-teen girl to truly understand menstruation, you’ve gotta back up to early ages and make sure she understands body parts, the reproductive tract, and other concepts instead of (out of the blue!) informing her, at 12, one day her vagina will bleed and that’s called a period.

In case you want to get an idea of how to explain sex to little ones in your family, I’ve pasted the K-2 National Sexuality Education Standards (NSES ) breakdown below, along with my recommendations to strengthen them even more.

 

BY THE END OF THE 2ND GRADE, STUDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO: NSES RECOMMENDS MY (ADDITIONAL) RECOMMENDATIONS
ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY
  • Use proper names for body parts, including male and female anatomy
  • Use proper names for all body parts
  • Provide examples of how friends, family, media, society and culture influence ways in which boys and girls should look (e.g. long/short hair, painted finger nails, big muscles, earrings)
PUBERTY AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT
  • No items
  • Explain there is a length of time that a person or animal/pet lives and changes occur during that length of time.
IDENTITY
  • Describe differences and similarities in how boys and girls may be expected to act.
  • Provide examples of how friends, family, media, society and culture influence ways in which boys and girls think they should act.
  • Same as NSES recommendations
PREGNANCY AND REPRODUCTION
  • Explain that all living things reproduce
  • Explain reproduction
  • Explain not all living things are able to or want to reproduce
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES AND HIV
  • No items
  • Explain almost every internal and external body part is able to become ill
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
  • Identify different kinds of family structures
  • Demonstrate ways to show respect for different types of families
  • Describe the characteristics of a friend
  • Identify healthy ways for friends to express feelings to each other
  • Identify different kinds of relationships in their lives (e.g friends, family, student/teacher, next door neighbors, etc.)
  • Describe the characteristics of a relationship
  • Demonstrate ways to show respect for a relationship
  • Identify healthy and appropriate ways people express themselves in different relationships
PERSONAL SAFETY
  • Explain that all people, including children, have the right to tell others not to touch their body when they do not want to be touched
  • Identify parents and other trusted adults they can tell if they are feeling uncomfortable about being touched
  • Demonstrate how to respond if someone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Demonstrate how to clearly say no, how to leave an uncomfortable situation, and how to identify and talk with a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Explain what bullying and teasing are
  • Explain why bullying and teasing are wrong
  • Identify parents and other trusted adults they can tell if they are being bullied or teased
  • Demonstrate how to respond if someone is bullying or teasing them
  • Same as NSES recommendations

 

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How to Talk to Your 5-Year-Old Kid About Sex

What Does It Mean If You Hate Sex?

Lovers, if you live in ‪New York City, ‎Philadelphia‬ or ‪‎Boston‬, you can grab a copy of my column from newsstands, nearby subways, and everywhere else ink and paper hang out. Metro Newspaper is a daily printed in 15 languages in 19 countries sprinkled throughout Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, reaching 17 million readers each day. I’m a sex columnist for each of the North American editions. This week’s topic? Hate sex (note: hot hating sex). It’s a topic even George Orwell covered. Trust me, you don’t wanna miss this Thursday’s piece. So, heads up: Pick it up or read it online: Hate Sex: How To Have It.

Image by Sébastien Wiertz

Image by Sébastien Wiertz

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What Does It Mean If You Hate Sex?

Have Explosive Orgasms, Whether Partnered or Solo

Image by bayasaa

Image by bayasaa

I wish you bedroom fireworks and explosive orgasms this July 4th holiday weekend. Whether you’re single, hanging out with someone, partnered up, or enjoying a different arrangement, have fun! Remember: solo doesn’t mean sexless. Watch me dole out masturbation tips (if tl;dw, skip to 15:50) or read up on how to have a one night stand advice. Simply seeking cerebral titillation? If you’re in or near my hometown Chicago, come to an intimate lakeshore gathering of art and sex storytelling.

Blink_Gallery

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Have Explosive Orgasms, Whether Partnered or Solo

It’s Okay to Have Sex on the First Date (Or Not)

Image by Zach Rathore

Image by Zach Rathore

I’ve had sex on the first date. Hell, I’ve had first “dates” that were practically just, you know, “sex.” I don’t judge anyone for getting it on the mattress, the living room floor, in the community pool, or anywhere else on the first encounter because personal sexual decisions are, of course, personal. Enter Alyssa Shelasky. She’s got a great New York magazine read called “Fucking on the First Date? How It Worked Out for 8 Women.”

Here’s the thing: I rarely sleep with men on the first date anymore. Or the second. Or the third. Although I don’t need to be married, I have the longterm in mind. I want to know if the guy is worth keeping around before I share with him the glorious wonder that is my delicious vagina. My shit’s good. I know that. I’m a catch. I know that, too. That doesn’t mean I’m without flaws (I have tons!); I’m just picky when it comes to putting out. In fact, a while ago, when a new guy suggested we kick the second date off at his place, I politely declined. At brunch on our second hang, when he again suggested we return to his place, I said no again. We hung out for 6+ hours filled with brunch, walking through a park with fingers interlaced, and tongue-in-mouth and lips-against-forehead kissing in a dark theater while watching Frances Ha. The next day, I received this:

Hey kiddo. Been doin some thinking & the not wanting to visit my apartment kind of turned me off. I guess I’m looking for someone less conservative & more wild & adventurous.

Nothing screams “I’m a forward-thinking, progressive man” louder than dropping a woman for not going back to your place. I’ll stop with my story there because this isn’t about me or him. What I really want every woman — and man! — to know is this: If you fuck someone, it doesn’t mean you’re a slut or wild. If you don’t, that doesn’t make you a prude or conservative. It simply means this: You either did or didn’t sleep with someone. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t fuck anyone who tells you your decision about going home with them shortly after meeting determines whether they’re interested in you sexually.

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It’s Okay to Have Sex on the First Date (Or Not)

Have Sex With Your Clothes On

I’ve been thinking about how we share our sex lives with pen and paper, via keyboards, on stages, through microphones, and everywhere else while clothed. I like it when creative adults have fun, mature conversations about what sexuality means to them personally or in our country in generally. Photo below is from “Media Sex Night” at my friend Rachel Kramer Bussel’s retired In the Flesh Erotic Reading Series. I miss it because it did a fantastic job rounding up a community of artists — burlesque dancers, comedians, writers, singers and others — to talk about sex like adults.

L - R: Jo Weldon, Rachel Shukert, Kevin Allison, Jillian Lauren, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Twanna A. Hines and Jerry Portwood. (Photo credit: Victoria Bowman Steinour)

L – R: Jo Weldon,THE BURLESQUE HANDBOOK; Rachel Shukert, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE GREAT, Kevin Allison, MTV’s THE STATE; Jillian Lauren, SOME GIRLS; Rachel Kramer Bussel, A MILLION ANTHOLOGIES; Twanna A. Hines, FUNKY BROWN CHICK®; and Jerry Portwood, Executive Editor of OUT magazine. (Photo credit: Victoria Bowman Steinour)

Last night, I attended Chris Trew’s Air Sex World Championships. Much like In the Flesh,it shows how fun, awkward, hot, and diverse sexual activity can be, without even showing the act at all. If you’re interested in In the Flesh, with Rach’s blessing, Suzanne Portnoy recently launched a London-based version of it. To learn more about Air Sex, check out the indie documentary kickstarter.

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Have Sex With Your Clothes On

You Can Get STDs from Oral Sex, Kiddies!

Image by Bernard Duret

Image by Bernard Duret

Oral sex gave him throat cancer.” Yep, Michael Douglas isn’t just another douche blaming his problems on vaginas. Or, if he is, at least his story may have credibility. It’s totally possible the 68-year-old actor’s carpet munching transmitted HPV to his mouth and, therefore, he got sick. For those wondering, How the hell can eating someone out give you cancer!?, grab a seat and listen up.

WHAT IS HPV?

HPV is an STI which can infect the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, throat, tongue, or other areas of the head and neck with a link to cancer in these areas. Let’s break that apart. STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are often called STIs (sexually transmitted infections) because the word “disease” carries and stigma and, of course, not all infections are diseases. That whole “STI” thing hasn’t really caught on yet, so reproductive health professionals still sometimes say “STDs,” using plain English so people know what the hell we’re talking about. List of common STDs. More info about HPV.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE AN STD?

Regardless of the STD, the most common symptom is no symptom. Get tested. Go to the national HIV and STD testing resource, enter your zip code, find the free clinic(s) near you, make an appointment and go. It’s that easy. Also, as I’ve mentioned before: If you don’t want your current or future employers (or anyone else) to know you’ve got herpes or are on Xanax or you’ve undergoing gender confirming surgery counseling or whatever the hell else you wanna keep private, ASK how your file will be used and/or where the information will be reported.

WHY WOULD AN STD BE IN MY MOUTH?

People commonly get it on in three orifices via vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Pretty much anything you can get in one hole, you can get in the others. Anal herpes? Totally a thing. Chlamydia in the mouth? It happens. HPV from performing fellatio or cunnilingus? Ask Michael Douglas.

IF YOU GET THROAT CANCER, IS IT BECAUSE YOU HAD ORAL SEX?

Nope. Smoking and alcohol can also cause cancers of the head and neck. You might ask: Heeeeeey, Twanna, so, if Mr. Douglas smoke and drank, that could’ve given him throat cancer instead of HPV, right? Poor pussy! He’s using it as a scapegoat. To that I’d say: Theoretically, it’s possible. Can’t know for sure; I’m not his doctor.

THIS SHIT SUCKS. IF I LOVE ORAL SEX, HOW CAN I STAY SAFE?

For cunnilingus, use a dental dam, cling wrap, or a condom slit down the side. For fellatio, use a flavored condom.

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You Can Get STDs from Oral Sex, Kiddies!

More Than Just Sex: A Free Conference for Youth

Hey, New York! Tell your daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, or other young people about the Community Healthcare Network Teens P.A.C.T.‘s free 9th Annual Conference: More Than Just Sex. It takes place this Saturday, May 18th, from noon until 6:00 p.m. at Marymount Manhattan College. Image below shows visual summary and is a link to the conference.

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More Than Just Sex: A Free Conference for Youth

Free Sex Advice: There’s Nothing Wrong with You

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Whether it’s too much sex, too little sex or the gamut of relationships problems, if I take all the questions I’ve ever been asked, most boil down to this: “Is there something wrong with me?” The answer, of course, is no. Caveat: If something about your sex or relationships with consenting adults impaires everyday functioning, seek counseling because there may be identifiable tweaks you can make to function more effectively. That aside, because you aren’t “broken,” I can’t “fix” you. What I can do is help you frame issues a certain way and identify trends to improve your sex life and relationships. I can also give you my perspective based on many years of experience as a sex and relationships columnist who has made and learned from mistakes and is still figuring this stuff out herself.

Photo: Lindy West, Joie Kerr, Twanna A. Hines, and Logan Sachon.

Photo: Lindy West, Joie Kerr, Twanna A. Hines, and Logan Sachon.

Last night, we taped How to Be A Grown A$$ Woman. Watch the show. As I was exiting the building at the evening’s end, I noticed audience members scribbled tons questions on the dry erase board:

  • “How many times do you have sex in a week? What’s normal?”
  • “My birth control method makes me gain weight. More of a complaint than a question. What do I do?”
  • “Do grown ass women sleep naked?”
  • “My boyfriend and I just moved in together. Should we get a joint bank account?”

I’ll answer each of these questions and more soon; however, to quickly answer the most glaring one …. DO. NOT. GET. A. JOINT. BANK. ACCOUNT with someone that you’ve only been dating a short amount of time. Seriously, this came up during the show, and I can’t stress enough how and when it’s important it is to keep finances separate. Stay tuned. More detailed answers to these and more questions coming soon.

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Free Sex Advice: There’s Nothing Wrong with You