I'm probably lucky that I got to the National Council of Teachers of English convention in Las Vegas on the last day. I'm pretty sure that if I'd been here longer, I would have gotten kicked out by now.
Not five minutes after I arrived on the show floor today (Sunday, September 18th), a woman asked, "Does this book have sex in it? I teach at a Catholic school."
Without event thinking about it, I replied, "I'm fairly certain Catholics have sex, too." Obviously not my most politic moment.
I've blogged about sex in YA literature before. I still don't get it. Are those who object to it afraid that teens will imitate what they read? Any kid who imitated everything he or she read would have died before becoming a teen while trying the stunts that fill our middle grade literature. I'm pretty sure that re-enacting any Rick Riordan novel would be deadly.
Maybe they're afraid that the more teens know about sex, the more they'll be tempted to experiment? In fact, the opposite is true. The more teenagers know about sex, the more likely they are to delay sexual activity and to practice safe sex. This brings up an important point: limiting teens' access to books that realistically portray sexuality, increases the chances that those teens will have early and unsafe sex. Censorship hurts kids.
Maybe they're raising pristine children, untainted by any hint of sexuality. If there's any family out there without a television, radio, or internet access; well, okay, fine. That family (and only that family) might find something in YA literature that their children haven't already seen in far more graphic form. The rest of us have no such excuse.
Am I missing something here? What rationalizations do you hear for objecting to sex in YA literature? Let me know in the comments, please.