Does sex have a place in YA? I’d say it does. According to this article in the NY Times, 47.8% of all high school students have had sex. Therefore, it makes sense for books aimed at teens to be realistic in the portrayl of teens. Now, I’m not saying every YA book needs a sex scene, not by a long shot. I will never set aside a young adult book, just because of a sex scene.
I think those scenes can be positive as they provide an opportunity to educate. Now, let me say not all sex ends in a baby or a disease (THANK GOD). Granted, sometimes if there isn’t a physical consequence, there’s emotional consequences or social consequences. I’m not sure I would find it very realistic if all young adult books treated sex as an “issue.” Of course, when I say sex in literature can be a teachable moment, I mean name-drop a Trojan or lifestyles, put safe sex in a positive light. Now, I’m not recommending writers go around and say hay kidz u can has secks, it rocks! No, not at all.
This request may be odd, but I wish that when I was a teen, authors of my era would have put in some awkward sex scenes in the YA books I read, instead of crap like oh they did it and it was so amazing and she was so pleasured, since that definitely does not ring true to me, but back then I had just assumed everyone knew what to do and was an expert except for me. I think maybe a book should portray that pivotal loss of innocence scene as being awkward and painful, since that’s probably more representative of real life.
Perhaps my overall message here is a wish for authors to keep it real. Please don’t be cowed by some book-banner into deleting the chapter where your characters do it, you’ve got an amazing opportunity to educate and possibly answer questions no teen is going to feel comfortable asking their parents about. So to those authors who have the balls to include sexytime, I applaud you.