When I was coming of age sexually there was no Scarleteen. And I was fortunate enough not to need it. If there is such a thing as a charmed introduction into one’s own sexuality, I had it. I had an open-minded mother who, without batting an eye, answered questions like “What’s a peckerhead?” when I was 8, and who bought me a copy of Our Bodies Ourselves when I was in my mid-teens. I had little formal sex ed in school but plenty of books at my disposal (including a copy of The Hite Report that I found in the basement in a box of old books). As a younger teenager I masturbated and was not ashamed, and when I decided I wanted to have sex, at 17, with my 22-year old boyfriend, I talked to my mother about it and despite thinking I was too young she understood that it was my decision and she took me to Planned Parenthood. To add to my good fortune, my mother's sister worked as a nurse at our local Planned Parenthood and so my mother and I both had plenty of confidence in the clinic.
I had high school boyfriends who, no more sexually experienced than I, were equally urgent in the fumbling explorations we pursued while never making me feel guilty for not “going all the way.” The aforementioned 22-year old boyfriend was sweet and gentle and playful when I decided I was ready for intercourse, and afterwards we drank milk out of wine glasses and read the comics in his most recent Playboy.
In college I felt free to explore sexually with my bisexual boyfriend and later came to realize my attraction to women in an environment that was open and supportive to that. When I introduced my first girlfriend to my family they were welcoming, and later when I married a man while disavowing monogamy they were accepting of that too.
I love Scarleteen. I am proud to be a monthly contributor. Why?
Scarleteen is one of the most reliable sources of independent sex education available to teens. By "independent" I mean that they receive no federal, state, or local funds and are also noncommercial.
Scarleteen is designed specifically for teens and presents sexual health information in a clear and nonjudgmental way. It is maintained by people who care deeply about making sure that teens have access to accurate information with which to make decisions about their bodies and their relationships.
From Heather Corinna, the indomitable force behind Scarleteen, I learned just how much use the site gets:
25,000 unique users daily, with an average of 3.5 page loads apiece.
43,000 registered users on their always-moderated message boards. Scarleteen's staff and voluteers have answered every one of teh 63,000 topis teens have posted, providing honest, accurate and nonjudgmental answers.
900 "Sexpert Advice" columns. "Sexpert Advice" is also syndicated on RH Reality Check (another fabulous information resource).
In addition to blog posts and active forms, Scarleteen runs a text message service where teens can text questions to 66746 (keyword "ASKST") and receive answers directly on their phones.
They do all this with very little money and the unbelievable energy of people like Heather Corinna. And because she is Heather Corinna, she has big plans for the future, provided the money is there. In Scarleteen's plans for 2010?