Youth Get Real About Sex

Above: Illustration by Jarrett Ramones/The kNOw

By Paulina Rojas

Editor’s Note: Coachella Unincorporated spoke to young people in the East Valley about their views on sex and sex education. These young people, ranging in age from 17 to 22, say more openness and a “safe space” to talk about sex with each other and with adult allies – whether teachers, parents or counselors – would help foster a healthier environment for the community. This is the second in two-part series looking at youth attitudes toward sex in the East Valley.

What are some of the conversations that young people are having about sex in the East Valley?

For guys at least, you hear a lot people glorifying it like YEAH, you haven’t done it? Go find someone and do it. You don’t hear the other side, like the female’s perspective. It’s cultural, too, like you have to have sex, if not, you’re not a man.

  • Bryan Mendez, 21

For women, it’s like a shame so you don’t have the chance to bring it up. Like, what are my options besides abstinence? I think it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. In like classrooms from what I remember they just go off a textbook. Even at a young age, the boys and the girls are separated so it’s like we don’t talk about these things in front of each other.

  • Olivia Rodriguez, 22

[The school] would tell the girls that we couldn’t tell the boys anything that we had talked about [in sex ed] and they couldn’t tell us what they talked about, so I still don’t know what the boys talked about. It’s crazy because, I think it was in fifth grade, they talked to us about periods and I was like, why don’t you talk to boys about periods too?

  • Leydy Rangel, 21

What would help young people in the East Valley feel more comfortable with talking about sex?

One good way to make young people feel more comfortable is to provide a safe space where they can talk about sex. You can’t look for answers when you have nowhere to go look. Many young people would rather ask their friends who have already had sex, or simply go to the internet. But if they can speak to an expert or take a sex ed class they will have more awareness.

  • Karla Martinez, 17

Do you think parents should talk more openly about sex with their kids?

I believe that parents should talk more openly about sex with their kids. My grandmother was really shy about touching the topic with her two youngest daughters and I believe that is why they became teen mothers. My grandmother hadn’t shared with them what consensual sex was, or how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STD’s. My aunts later went on to tell me that if they had been given that open space for discussion with my grandmother, they would’ve made better decisions when having sex.

  • Karla Martinez, 17

I am a really big believer that there is a big opportunity to build partnerships around the school space where kids spend their K-12 years. We know our culture is big on not talking about these issues, but schools can form collaborations with community partners and completely change the way that sex ed is talked about.

  • Olivia Rodriguez, 22

I feel like they’re really afraid or uncomfortable and they don’t know how to approach us and ask, “Look honey, are you having sex?” My parents never talked to me about sex and I have always been curious, too. I mean, we can’t all be abstinent. Everyone is just so embarrassed for some reason about the word sex.

  • Leydy Rangel, 21

What are young people’s attitude towards sex? How has the internet or social media affected young people’s views?

I see sex as a very private and intimate activity. It’s not something I’d go sharing on social media or tell my friends about. But sex is everywhere we look; it’s in our music, in our commercials, and in movies. It’s all over social media, from the Kardashians posting a nude selfie, to someone sharing the latest music video with a naked girl. We no longer perceive sex as being private between two individuals.

  • Karla Martinez, 17

Read More:

Part 1: Q&A Demystifying Sex Ed

About the author:

PRojas 1Paulina Rojas joined Coachella Uninc. as a beat reporter in February 2016 after working as a city reporter in the eastern Coachella Valley for more than a year. Although born and raised in New York City, Paulina feels right at home in the eastern Coachella Valley. She loves the warmth of the people and buying fresh bread from her favorite bakery in downtown Coachella. Paulina is a graduate of the University of Houston, and her work has appeared in The Las Vegas Review – Journal, The Houston Chronicle, HelloGiggles and Vivala. View her author page here.

 

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