The Pulse

September 10, 2019

Planned Parenthood’s ‘In Case You’re Curious’ Is the Sex Ed Book We All Deserve

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“Your generation has the power to tilt the scales and make the world a better place. A place where all sex is wanted (enthusiastically consensual), a place where people can live openly without fear of discrimination because of who they love or how they identify. A place where people have all the information they need to make the healthiest decision for themselves.”

This is the beginning of In Case You’re Curious, a new sex education textbook published by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and based on the text line of the same name created by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Available starting today, September 10, In Case You’re Curious honors the fact that, when it comes to sex ed, there is no such thing as a “stupid” question—especially if we are discussing how to care for for our bodies, communicate our experiences, and behave ethically in relationships. Planned Parenthood, a leading sexual healthcare provider and a tireless advocacy organization, is already where most people obtain sex ed information (more than one million people yearly, to be exact). By addressing a massive young audience specifically through less clinical jargon, cartoonish illustrations, and nonjudgmental discussion topics, Planned Parenthood is actively helping this next generation access tools to make their future better and healthier.‍

The book’s entire format especially helps combat the silence surrounding sex ed through its chapter titles—each of them a question about sexuality that you probably definitely asked yourself as a kid. And, honestly, depending on the sex ed you’ve received, questions that you might still be googling? As explained in the book’s preface, parents and other adults often assume that children get all the sex education they need in the classroom. In reality, “only 24 states and the District of Columbia make schools teach sex education, and of those, only 13 states require the information provided be medically accurate.” This statistic is sobering on its own, but the preface goes on to explain that, of these states, some also adhere to laws that decide if certain information (from LGBTQIA+ experiences to reproductive rights) is portrayed as “good” or “bad” in the classroom. Shame-based and outright false instruction is prevalent and dangerous in United States schools, so it’s no wonder that kids have got questions they might be too afraid to ask.‍

Thankfully, when young people open up this book, their curiosity will be affirmed and addressed, rather than scolded and shamed. Classic sex ed topics like masturbation, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and puberty are presented as chapters entitled “Can You Die From Masturbating Too Much?” “Do Babies Come Out of the Butt?” “Can You Get an STI from a Toilet Seat?” and “Do Guys Really Cum In Their Sleep?” Chapters detailing more comprehensive topics like consent, queer identity, and healthy relationships are called, “How Do I Tell My Partner No?” “Is Twelve Too Young To Know I’m Bi?” and “Why Do Broken Hearts Hurt So Badly?”

Sexuality is a normal part of the human experience—something that is present “in every stage of life,” as the book explains. To deny youthful curiosity about sexuality is to deny part of the next generation’s humanity, so the only embarrassing question is one for the abstinence-only policy makers in government: When will this country ensure that all kids have access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed? Until we get a satisfactory answer from those politicians, Planned Parenthood will tell you everything that you need to know in their new book. Trust us, somebody else has already asked whatever “weird” sex question prompted you to delete your Google search history, so go ahead, ask them anything.

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Rachel Sanoff is an editor and writer in Los Angeles. Read her work on HelloGiggles, Bustle, Jezebel, The Culture Trip, and other places on the internet.

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