Talking across a divide

Welcome to Reality - Road signYoung people are often more able to talk about safe sex and sexual decisions with their friends than they are their partners. This makes sense for a lot of reasons. Friend groupings tend to segregate by sex from middle through late childhood, as conversations about sex and sexuality start to become more frequent within friend groups. Frank conversations about sex and sexuality are rare enough at all in our culture – having them with someone outside of an intimately trusted friend group poses even more hurdles. The culturally sanctioned divide that exists between girl and boy groups, toys, movies, hobbies, etc., further separates and exasperates open conversation for young heterosexual couples. This lesson from Positive Images addresses that specific issue by pairing participants from different gender identities and encouraging frank conversations about sexuality.


Making Decisions about Contraception

By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the other decisions that become necessary once a couple has made the decision to have sexual intercourse.
  2. Identify personal concerns that will influence contraceptive decision-making for an individual couple.
  3. Demonstrate how to make contraceptive decisions in a variety of situations.


Young people frequently engage in “magical thinking” or otherwise deny the possible consequences of the decision to have sexual intercourse. This lesson emphasizes the choices and consequences that are inescapable when a male/female couple makes the decision to have intercourse. It gives participants an opportunity to assess the considerations that go into making a decision about contraception. Working in pairs, participants experience decision-making with someone of the other gender and, hopefully, will be better able to communicate responsibly with a partner if, and when, the time comes to do so.




Beginning with a sexual decisions flow-chart and then moving into paired conversations about contraceptive advice for seven couples, this activity offers active experience in making wise sexual decisions in complex situations. The couples span a range of relationships, including a young lesbian who had sex with a young man to end rumors about her, a young couple who have divergent views on whether they should talk with their friends about their sexual choices, a broken condom, and a few young people who would prefer to not have sex and so aren’t open to conversations with their partners about contraception. The questions each participant pair is asked for each of the scenarios are: What advice would you give? What contraceptive method would you recommend? Why?


Something I talk with parents about frequently is the need for young people to consider a situation and to think through the options, before they encounter that situation. I love that this lesson does exactly that!