Crossing that great divide

sexuality education generationsThe last lesson for this week focused on parents and other adults comes from Making Sense of Abstinence. I was pretty sure I had already written about this lesson plan, but I can’t find the blog post, so I guess not! It aims to support youth in beginning (or continuing, I suppose) an intergenerational conversation about sex and sexuality in the home. It is broken up into two sessions to allow the youth to go home and have those conversations so they can come back and talk about them.

Can we talk about abstinence?

Participants will:

  1. Develop an understanding of how parents, guardians, or other adults feel about abstinence.
  2. Compare how social norms and pressures related to abstinence and sexual decision-making may have changed over the years.
  3. Identify behaviors that encourage and discourage communication by role-playing and preparing for an interview with a trusted adult.

This lesson is designed to help young people begin a dialogue about abstinence with their parents, guardians, or other trusted adults. Communicating about abstinence acknowledges the important role that parents and other adults play in the comprehensive sex education of their children. Prior discussions and role-play in class will enhance participants’ ease and skill in taking with adults about abstinence and sexual decisions.

Note: Since participants will need time to interview a parent (or other trusted adult), this lesson requires two sessions to complete.


This lesson has a few really good things about it. Here are some that jump out at me, in no particular order:

  • Direct encouragement of intergenerational communication.
  • Role-playing to demystify the process of talking about sex with a parent or other adult
  • Expanding the conversation beyond a should-you-or-shouldn’t-you discussion into a conversation about the history of abstinence and a definition of abstinence and sex
  • Wrap-up questions that encourage further intergenerational conversations

I can’t tell you how often I’ve had a student in my class (that, you know, the parent actively signed them up for) tell me that their parent wouldn’t be okay talking about the materials we’re discussing in class. That might, sometimes, be true. That might even be the reason that the parent signed their teen up for the class. But supporting both youth and parents in crossing that divide is something I’m so passionate I’m even writing a book about it. We need to be able to talk with each other about sex and sexuality on some level – even if it has to start with a class assignment.