The Mystery and the Act

Originally published in Library Juice, this article by Teri Weesner has found its way to the Progressive Librarian web site. The article is called \"The Mystery and the Act: Toward a YA Human Sexuality Collection\" and it discusses the needs that teens have for accurate, honest information about sex and sexuality, and how librarians can meet that need.


\"This editorial is based on the premise that there is a connection between young people accessing porn via the internet and their innate curiosity about human sexuality and their own bodies. Young people viewing internet porn have an information need that can be addressed by youth services librarians and library collections. To ignore this information need is just as inaccurate and inappropriate as young people gleaning their information from internet pornography and cybersex chat. Young people\'s information needs are legitimate and the response of shaming from librarians is an ineffective tool for teaching, learning or discipline.\"As librarians, our charge is to create an environment of information in relation to the needs of all people who would access that information as well as an ideology of honesty and respect towards all people and their information needs. Shooing young people off the internet is like obnoxious shooshing of their curiosity and hunger for knowledge. Young people speak with their behavior. When we are confused by their behavior, ask them what it is they really want to communicate and help them find it in your collection (which includes the library\'s computer). We are the gatekeepers and porn and cybersex chat are barriers in youth services. Our job as librarians is to open the gate when asked and assist young people to navigate those barriers.


As adults looking back at our own youth, think about how such dispassionate information may have benefited us to make informed, individual choices.


Take a look at your youth services human sexuality collection under the subject heading, \"sex instruction.\" What proportion of the titles are current, accurate, respectful, dispassionate information in a form young people will read? Are the juvenile titles in the juvenile or the adult collection?

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