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Safer Sex for Teens Workshop Notes & Links


Safer Sex for Teens Workshop Notes
 - Aug 2012 - Polycamp NW
 - Information is power.  This workshop will give a light-hearted practical look at safer sex practices for teens and empower them to share their new understanding with their parents and peers.

Key Points to remember:
1. Your body and sexuality are a gift.  Always wrap it and do not accept the same gift from someone else unless it too is wrapped.
2. Your sexuality and your emotions are YOUR gift to give when YOU are ready and not when someone else thinks you are or should be or should give it because they need or want it.
3. You are special and being with you sexually and/or loved by you is a privilege.
4. Talk about safe sex options, plan and have condoms and other supplies BEFORE you are in an intimate situation.

 Resources highlighted during the discussion which followed the questions and not necessarily the format of these notes:

Why Practice Safer Sex?
"Any sexual activity puts you at risk. The only way to be 100% free from risk of STDs is to not have sex. And youths are at high risk: Teens and young adults have the highest rates of STDs of any age group. In 2000, nearly half of the 19 million new STD cases occurred  among people ages 15-24.
About 35% of 14- to 19-year-olds are infected with human papilloma virus (HPV), the most common STD among teens. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls ages 11 to 12, although it may be given to girls as young as age 9. Women up to age 26 should be vaccinated against strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer and genital warts."
"About 18% of all new HIV diagnoses are among people aged 13-24.
All of this can be a bit cumbersome, which is why so many people just don’t bother to use any form of protection, at least from time to time. That’s one of the reasons why there are so many unintended pregnancies and why STDs are so rampant. So if you’re going to engage in sexual intercourse, please make the effort to learn how to prevent pregnancies and STDs."
"Having intercourse has two potential outcomes: causing pleasure and making babies. You will have moments in your life when you’ll want to combine those two, but most of the time you’re going to want one without the other. That’s where contraception comes in. And the less worried you are about causing an unintended pregnancy or risking a disease, the more you’ll enjoy sex — sort of a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. This also works the other way, so if you opt to have sex without using contraception, and you don’t want to get pregnant or contract an STD, you’ll enjoy sex a lot less."
More specifically:

What are the symptoms of STDs that I should look for?  Wouldn't you know if you had an STD or STI?  
 Nurse Sarah - my co-facilitator is a walking dictionary on how all of these diseases present if there are indeed visible symptoms as well as treatments and testing procedures. She gave some brief information and answered questions.

There are many diseases and infections that are spread sexually.  They vary from annoying to life threatening and all should be dealt with promptly but few have symptoms that are obvious.   The bottom line is that anyone can have something and not be aware of it - regardless of their level of sexual expertise or activity.  No matter what they themselves say or think.  YOU are in charge of protecting YOU and responsible for informing others if you have something or have been in contact with someone who has something.  An excellent resource for disease information and current data on same is Center for Disease Control 

Safer sex conversations with dating partners: (HANDOUT) –  Being Ready for Sex, Safer sex activities, If  Safer sex does not happen, Negotiating safer sex

"Communication is an important part of sexual intimacy. For teens in particular, it’s important for sexual health and maturity. If you are in a relationship -- whether or not you are having sex -- you should talk to your partner about their sexual history for several reasons. It can help you establish sexual boundaries (whether you want to have sex or how far you’re willing to take the relationship sexually); it can help you learn if your partner has engaged in risky sex; and it can begin or continue a discussion about safe sex practices." 

"But talking can’t help determine whether your partner has an STD. Even if they assure you that they are sexually healthy, they may be infected with an STD and not know it. Three-fourths of women and half of men who are infected with chlamydia have no symptoms. “The only way to find out for sure if someone has an STD is to get tested,” says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, professor of adolescent medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco."


Safer sex conversations with peers: encouraging others to be informed and be safe     - Elevator Speech   -   rest of HAND OUT  Common excuses for not practicing safer sex, Persuasion line to have safer sex.

An Elevator Speech is a short 2 minute speech you have memorized and at the ready for when a topic comes up in a quick moment like in an elevator or in this case in a moment of unexpected intimacy. Often used as a marketing tool for start up entrepreneurs this is frequently used by poly people to explain poly to others new to the idea.  I recommend it here for discussions with peers and especially dating partners. You have made your decision about whether you are ready for sex or not and what your safer sex preferred options are and why.  You know your speech and are prepared for any arguments. This link (http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=243&np=291&id=2180gives you some "lines" to use in this speech.

Safer sex conversation with parents:  encouraging parents to be informed, safe and trust that you are.
 "You don't need your parents' permission to make choices about birth control in most states. Minors are explicitly granted the right to contraceptive services in 21 states and Washington D.C.; four states have no specific policy; and the remaining 25 states explicitly allow the right to contraceptive services in certain circumstances."

In Canada, provinces vary but generally once you are 16 yrs old you can make health care choices for yourself and you are covered under your parents basic provincial health care insurance until you are 18 or 19 yrs of age.  Medical clinics will take you as a drop in and you can get STD testing there. Most communities have a clinic that specializes in Sexual health and has free condoms, counselling, and testing.

"Most health care providers will discuss your birth control needs and choices confidentially. Most family planning clinics keep visits confidential, and some provide free birth control. If you use your parents’ insurance, it will show up on their insurance statement."
  
"Experts urge teens to talk with their parents or other trusted adults (a health care provider, for instance) about safe sex practices. Teenagers' peers can sometimes be an unreliable source of information -- or worse, a source of peer pressure. Parents or other grownups can help teens get accurate information about protection from STDs and unwanted pregnancies."

"There may be another benefit of talking to your parents besides delaying sex: stronger relationships, says Halpern-Felsher. “Teens who preemptively talk to their parents about relationships and safe sex are more likely to have healthy relationships and less health risk,” according to Halpern-Felsher." 

 Another benefit to talking with parents particularly if you live in a poly household is that poly adults most often have safer sex agreements amongst them and may have added advice on how to develop one for yourself.  Generally any parent should be pleased to know that you want to be wiser and that you are working out one for yourself but sometimes we forget our babies aren't babies anymore.  I'd like mine to avoid all the hard learning curves, be healthy in body, emotion and spirit. Be gentle with us but please let us be there for you.  

Interestingly enough it was my daughter who had the safer sex talk with me perhaps a dozen years ago now.  I had divorced and re-entered the dating scene.  I married before AIDS and all this safe sex stuff.  She lectured me and gave me pamphlets.  "I love you, Mom.  I want you safe."  The idea that I had choices about these things an a right to draw a safer sex line in the sand was pretty radical and then I found polyamory and well....radical took on a new meaning entirely.

But I digress...

In the workshop session there were parents amongst attendees and facilitators.  We shared the circumstances of our first sexual experiences and our safer sex agreements with the teens attending.  One of the attendees was a 28 year old who noted that she had had opportunity to be sexually active but had remained a virgin and that it was definitely okay to wait until you were ready.  I myself was 19 and pressured into being sexually active before I was ready and had to sort that emotional baggage out.  Others were teens or young adults and had that first experience with someone that they married and are still with.  

The teens attending were supported by their parents in attending the class and the discussion was lively.  Even the shy guy in the corner paid rapt attention.  When they did a wrap up of the camp at which we had presented, our workshop with noted as a highlight.

I'm pleased that a group of great teens got this message. They were given a business card with this blog address to take home  and are to pass it on.  My hope is that the messages here will save someone somewhere from distress and illness. 

Quotes above are from these sites unless otherwise noted:
http://teenadvice.about.com/od/sexsexuality/tp/safe_sex_101.htm
http://www.safeteens.org/    (especially section under "relationships")
http://teens.webmd.com/rm-quiz-safe-sex
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=243&np=291&id=2180   (excellent "lines" for your elevator speech)
http://www.canada.com/health/Safe+Talking+your+teen+about+sexually+transmitted+infections/5824549/story.html
http://suite101.com/article/high-school-and-sex-education-a14746

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