What is sexuality? When we talk about sexuality, what do we really mean? Are we talking about how many times a person has sex, or with how many different partners? Are we talking about who a person wants to have sex with?
Sexuality is all of those things…and none of those things. It’s actually a relationship, which means that it’s complicated. Lucky for you, Sex Positive Parents, I’ve got a simple way to explain this complicated relationship:
First, we have a person’s identity. I’ll use myself as an example: I identify as a cisgender female. This means I was assigned the female sex at birth, I have consistently identified as female, I perceive myself as female, and I identify as female today. This is my identity.
Next, we have a person’s sexual orientation, which refers to the identity of the people that person is attracted to. Examples of sexual orientations include, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or pansexuality, among others. I am heterosexual, meaning I am consistently attracted to men and those who are male-identifying.
Lastly, we have a person’s sexual behavior. Sexual behavior is not necessarily constrained by a person’s identity or sexual orientation, or societal perceptions thereof. The Kinsey scale, which is the result of groundbreaking research into human sexuality, speaks to the non-linear nature of sexuality. As an example, a person might identify as a cisgender male, see themselves as heterosexual, and sometimes have sex with other men. Perhaps a transgender woman is homosexually oriented, and sometimes have sex with men. Or, a cisgender, heterosexual woman regularly fantasizes about having sex with women.
Sexuality is the relationship between identity, orientation, and behavior. For some, those things stay pretty consistent through time, which means their sexuality is fairly static. For others, however, those pillars may shift or evolve, making their sexuality more dynamic.
Why am I telling you about this? Because it’s important to focus less on labels and more on specific behaviors when we talk to our kids about sex and relationships. Focusing on behaviors allows for human difference and it also prevents leaving inadvertent gaps in traditionally heteronormative sex ed conversations (which unplanned pregnancies and STI’s are all too happy to slip through).
In practical terms, focusing on behaviors looks like this:
“You should to wear a condom because the birth control pill doesn’t protect against STD’s” becomes:
“You should wear a condom during any kind of sexual activity, including oral, anal, and vaginal sex.”
“You need to be serious about saying no because guys only want one thing” becomes:
“Healthy relationships involve mutual respect where no one feels pressured and sex is always consensual.”
“You don’t have to learn about anything except for condoms because you’re gay” becomes:
“There are a lot of different STD prevention and contraception options on the market and it’s good to be aware of what they are, how they work, and where you can get them.”
Complete Article HERE!