A progressive, effective, and responsible approach to sex education for parents and teens that challenges traditional teaching models and instead embraces 21st century realities by promoting healthy sexuality, values, and body image in young people.
Sex education today generally falls into one of two categories: abstinence-only or abstinence-based education—both of which tend to withhold important, factual information and leave young adults ill-equipped to make safe decisions. Al Vernacchio, a high school sexuality educator who holds a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality from the University of Pennsylvania, has created a new category: sex-positive education. In For Goodness Sex, he refutes the “disaster prevention” model of sex ed, offering a progressive and realistic approach: Sexuality is a natural part of life, and healthy sexuality can only develop from a sex-positive, affirming appreciation.
Curious yet fearful of being judged, young people turn to peers, the Internet, and the media, where they receive problematic messages about sex: boys are studs, girls are sluts; real sex should be like porn; hookups are better than relationships. Without a broader understanding to offset these damaging perceptions, teenagers are dangerously unprepared intellectually and emotionally to grow and develop as sexual beings. For Goodness Sex offers the tools and insights adults need to talk young people and help them develop healthy values and safe habits. With real-life examples from the classroom, exercises and quizzes, and a wealth of sample discussions and crucial information, Vernacchio offers a guide to sex education for the twenty-first century.
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About the Author
Al Vernacchio is a high school sexuality educator and English teacher at Friends' Central School in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. A human sexuality educator for more than twenty years, Al lectures and offers workshops throughout the country. His work was the feature of a 2011 New York Times Magazine cover story, and his blog, "For Goodness Sex," can be found on psychologytoday.com. Al lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Sexuality as a Force for Good ix
Chapter 1 Teaching Healthy Sex 1
Chapter 2 Creating a Family Philosophy of Sex: What We Believe, What We Say, and How We Say It 19
Chapter 3 Baseball, You're Out! Sexual Activity Without the Bases 49
Chapter 4 Love and Relationships: Becoming Your Authentic Self 71
Chapter 5 Gender Myths: Helping Kids Step Outside New and Old Gender Stereotypes 103
Chapter 6 Sexual Orientation: Whom We Love 129
Chapter 7 OK, So I Have a Body. How Do I Like It and What Do I Do with It? 161
Chapter 8 #iloveyou: Teens, Sex, and Technology 207
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens about Sexuality, Values, and Health by Al Vernacchio invites parents, students, educators and everyone, really, into Vernacchio’s Sexuality and Society class in a private Quaker school near Philadelphia, PA. In Mr. V’s classroom, students are safe to sort out all of the negative and exploitive messages they’ve received about human sexuality and begin to build an accurate and positive image of themselves, which will in turn allow them to form healthy relationships and make responsible life choices. Vernacchio emphasizes sexuality as a force for good. The book is divided into eight chapters that include subjects such as healthy sex, creating a family philosophy, becoming your authentic self, gender myths, and the effect of social media and technology on teen relationships. In Chapter 1, Vernacchio explains, “We are whole people with bodies, brains, emotions and spirits. All of those things are part of our sexuality.” Each chapter ends with real teen questions from the “Question Box” Mr. V. keeps in the back of his classroom and Vernacchio’s example of how he would answer them. Perhaps his most important message is the one that he shared in his March 2012 TED talk which as of October 2014 has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. Vernacchio says we need to abandon our “baseball metaphor” for sex and adopt a more mutual, enjoyable metaphor like pizza. If you’re having any doubts about whether or not you will like this book, watch Vernacchio’s TED talk. If it speaks to you, there’s a good chance his book will, too. Overall, as a former high school teacher, former sex crimes prosecutor and current child forensic interviewer and adjunct professor of criminal sciences, I can’t say enough good things about Vernacchio’s message and how crucial it is for our society. The only place where I found content that concerned me was in one little section in Chapter 7 where he discusses the hymen. In Vernacchio’s defense, most physicians and nurses who do not specialize in sexual assault are still woefully undereducated when it comes to the female anatomy, and more likely to base their examinations and findings on hymenal myths than on the real facts about the hymen. I can only hope that this book sells out quickly and a new edition is released soon with updated and accurate medical information on what is perhaps the most misunderstood little membrane in the history of humanity. In a world that still talks about sex as running around the bases and sliding into home, Vernacchio steps up to the plate and hits a grand slam, driving home the intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality in the process.