Episode 11: Rethinking Sex-Ed with Susan Stiritz, PhD

Click here for show notes from this week’s episode: Show Notes for Discussion with Susan Stiritz.

Today’s episode is a sort of special: instead of focusing on the purely neurobiological aspects of sexuality, we venture into the realm of culture and social psychology as they relate to sex education. I speak with Susan Stiritz, professor of sexuality studies and sexual education methods at Washington University in St. Louis. In a world where sex and sexuality are often considered “taboo” subjects, among both parents and peers, Dr. Stiritz sheds light on how our country can change its approach to sexual education to reflect the fact that sexual behavior can and should be a positive aspect of adolescent life. This interview does contain sexual topics, but, in line with Dr. Stiritz’ philosophy, the treatment of these topics is appropriate for an adolescent audience.

In our interview, Dr. Stiritz recommended finding accurate websites and books to further your own sexual knowledge when it’s difficult to talk to parents and peers. Here are some resources that I have found in my search for more information about adolescent sexuality:

  • Scarleteen is one of the most popular and long-lasting websites out there for teenage sexual education. Though Scarleteen is primarily geared towards adolescent girls, there is content on the site for boys as well. Scarleteen also does a great job of including information for LGBT teenagers, too. The website not only features great sex-ed articles, but also articles about body image, relationships, and even sexual politics. If you’re looking for a quick, informative read, search for any topic of your choice on Scarleteen and you’ll find something fast and accurate.
  • Another reliable and candid website for sexual information is Go Ask Alice!, an health and sexuality advice column hosted by Columbia University. Go Ask Alice! covers a vast range of topics, and includes discussions of safe sex as well as sexual pleasure and creating a positive sex life.
  • If you’re looking for a longer, more complete read, check out the book The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality by Michael Basso. I have not read this particular book, but it received very positive reviews from critics and sexual educators across the country for its straightforward, honest, and reliable information. The book is written for teenagers, not parents.
  • Dr. Stiritz mentioned a man named Erik Erikson in our interview, who developed the stages of psychosexual development, of which there are nine stages. You can find more on these stages from Wikipedia, which does a good job of summarizing his findings.


The source used for the introduction to this interview is as follows:

Adolescent Romantic and Sexual Development (Research Paper)


Image: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5282834ae4b01dd0edf51c8e/t/5284f029e4b054093f172cfe/1384443946523/birds%2Bbees.jpg

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