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What Is Sexuality?
What Is Sexuality?
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What Is Sexuality?

This video is about sexuality, which covers areas like how our bodies look and work as well as our romantic feelings and relationships. Sexuality impacts us throughout our lives, starting even before we’re born, when people may make assumptions about gender and what a baby should wear and play with based on those assumptions and their sex assigned at birth. We also get messages about sexuality from a range of places—the media, our religion, our culture, our family, our friends—about how to feel or what to look like and not all these messages are accurate. We are sexual throughout our lives, regardless of race, age, religion, what our bodies can or can’t do physically, body shape/size, gender identity, etc.

Youth

When you think of sexuality, it can be easy to think just of people having sex. Sexuality, however, is about so much more than that! It’s not just what you do, but more about who you are. Sexuality includes how a person feels about themselves, their body, their relationships and their sexual experiences. It can be affected by messages from sources like your culture, faith, family, friends and the media. Sexuality is a part of being human and continues throughout our lives, whether a person is sexually active or not.

Sexuality often begins before a baby is even born, like when people make assumptions about the baby’s gender, or what the baby will like based on gender. Even how people care for, hold, talk to and interact with children sends messages about sexuality. These experiences and messages continue throughout life and can affect how we see ourselves physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, as well as our family, friend and romantic relationships. The media and popular culture can send messages that sexualize people and objects, and influence how we think about sex or physical pleasure.

 

Sexuality is also diverse, just like people! Everyone is a sexual being, no matter your age, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity, body shape/size, race/ethnicity, past abuse or trauma or what your body can/cannot do physically. Being a sexual person is normal, and it’s perfectly OK.

FAQs

Am I a sexual person if I don’t have sex?

All people are sexual, even if they are not having sex, or don’t identify as having sexual attraction to others. This means parents, grandparents, disabled people, religious people, people of all genders and even world leaders—EVERYBODY!

Parents

Sexuality is an integral part of every human being, regardless of age or any other part of a person’s identity. It begins early—even in the womb, when people may make assumptions about a child based on their assumed gender. Once a child is born, people may continue to react to its assigned sex at birth. How people care for, hold, talk to, interact with and respond to children sends them powerful messages about sexuality. 

As a child grows up, they will continue to receive messages about sexuality from a variety of sources. Over time these messages may include other parts of their identity, including race, sexual orientation and gender expression. They can affect how a person sees themselves physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, and influence their family, friend and romantic relationships. The media and popular culture also send messages that sexualize people and influence how young people think about sex or physical pleasure. All of these can impact both how a person sees themselves and their experience of physical pleasure, whether being cuddled, holding hands, someone rubbing their back or later kissing someone romantically.

 

It can be difficult for parents to support their children’s developing sexuality, particularly since it involves their growing agency and independence. But sexuality is a universal component of being human, and continues throughout our lives, whether a person is sexually active or not.

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

When parents and caregivers engage in loving and supportive conversations with children about sexuality, it allows children to address their needs in ways that avoid feelings of shame and self-judgment. Having regular discussions about sexuality can be a useful way to normalize the experience for your child, and to let them know that you are available for any questions or concerns they have.

Below are some ways to start conversations about sexuality:

Ask questions about the media and experiences young people come across

Children will come across media and pop culture that send messages about sexuality. When this happens in your presence, or you see something that they may have also come across, you can use these moments to ask questions about your child’s perspective or share your values for them to consider.

Honor the child’s emotions and critical thinking

It can be difficult to discuss a child’s sexual development when parents do not know that sexuality is a lifelong experience. Remember that sexuality is not just about someone’s sexual behavior but instead a core part of who someone is. While not ideal for a young person to be sexually active before they are ready, it is still important to encourage young people to think critically about sexuality, and be present to their sexual feelings and how they feel about themselves. When children share their ideas or ask questions, use those moments to validate their growing awareness of what sexuality means to them without judging or shaming them.

Educators

Sexuality is an integral part of being human, regardless of age, past experience or any other part of a person’s background. Sexuality begins early—even in the womb, when people make assumptions about a child based on their assumed gender. Once a child is born, people continue to react to its assigned sex at birth. How people interact with and respond to children sends them powerful messages about sexuality. 

As a child grows up, they will continue to be impacted by messages from various sources. These messages can affect how a person sees themselves physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, as well as impact their relationships with family, friends and romantic partners. The media and popular culture send messages that sexualize people as well, influencing young people how to think about sex or physical pleasure. All of these can impact how a person feels about themselves, their bodies and their relationships, as well as how they feel about physical pleasure, whether being cuddled, holding hands, someone rubbing their back or kissing someone romantically.

 

Sexuality is a universal component of being human, and continues throughout people’s lives. Even if a person isn’t sexually active, they can still be impacted by sexuality.

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:
  • According to the video, when does a person start to be affected by sexuality?
  • What are some sources where we typically get sexual messages from? What kinds of messages do you think those sources tell us?
  • According to the video, what are some ways that messages about sexuality can affect a person?
  • What would you say to someone who says that not everyone is sexual?

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