|by Charlie Hang|
Sex In YA, Part 2: Keeping It Safe
With more and more YA books discussing the topic of sex, and some even featuring sex scenes, the question has arisen: does an author have a responsibility to mention protection? Should condoms or birth control come into play? Always or just sometimes? Is this "preaching" or just being responsible?
Personally, I choose to always mention contraception (usually condoms as they also prevent STDs) in any sex scene I write (and anyone who has read The DUFF can tell you that occasion has come up more than once). And, from personal experience, I know that some editors deeply encourage this as well. Many other books with sex scene use reference to birth control in fun/quirky ways to help add a little romantic tension. Simone Elkeles comes to mind - both Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction use reference to condoms in funny ways that make the scene both more humorous and more romantic.
But I've heard others argue that references to safe sex are "preachy." That always mentioning contraception is, in some ways, talking down to teenagers who could probably assume that a condom was used already.
What do you think? If an author chooses to feature sex in a positive light (i. e. a romantic encounter that does not end in pregnancy or STD), is it his or her responsibility to include mention of safety? If so, what are some other books in which condoms or birth control were referenced in ways that didn't feel "preachy?" If not, why do you feel this way?
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