Breaking Taboos About Sexuality
In the South Asian community, sexuality is not always discussed openly. Discussing sex and sexuality can be an uncomfortable topic, particularly with parents. Even with friends, asking questions about sexuality can be difficult because your friends may not know what to say, or may have little to no experience about this topic. Teens can be embarrassed to admit that they do not know the answers.
We hope to break down some of the taboos and discuss ways to have healthy conversations around this topic. Below are some common questions asked by South Asian teens.
“I have never dated, is this normal?”
Many South Asian teens report not dating during their teen years. South Asian teens may choose not to date for many reasons. A common reason includes the fear of being caught by parents or family members. “Secret dating” can make teens feel anxious and stressed from the constant fear of being caught by family members. Teens also report feeling pressured to date by peers and friends.
Our advice is very simple; date when you are ready and do not let friends pressure you into dating! If you feel ready to date, some things to keep in mind include having a healthy relationship. What is a healthy relationship? This means finding a girl or boy friend that you can communicate your needs to, someone who will be there for you during good and tough times, and a person you feel safe with.
“Is every teen having sex?”
It is normal to have questions and think about sex. Only 13% of the U.S. teens have ever had sex by age 15, sexual activity is common by the late teen years*. Some teens report feeling pressured from friends to have sex. If you are being pressured, you may be feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Remember, you have a choice in whether you decide to have sex. If you need more information, speak to an adult you trust, your doctor, or the wellness team.
“What is sexual orientation?”
Sexual orientation refers to the gender to which the individual is attracted. There are many types of sexual orientations, which include lesbian, gay, straight and bisexual. The term questioning refers to people who are exploring their attraction to both males and females. It is a normal process for teens (and adults) to explore their sexual identity. Exploring your sexual identity can be overwhelming and confusing. Some teens feel isolated when they cannot discuss this topic with friends and important adults in their life. If you feel alone, reach out to someone you can talk to. This can include people you do not know well like counselors and doctors.
“Where can I get support and find resources?”
You can seek support from adults in your life, such as counselors, doctors and nurses. The Kids Health website, is a great resource.
*Abma JC et al., Teenagers in the United States: sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, National Survey of Family Growth 2006–2008, Vital and Health Statistics, 2010, Series 23, No. 30.
Ulash Thakore-Dunlap, LMFT
Behavioral Health Counselor, Wellness, Galileo High School