The Bottom Line
- A spot-on exploration of how Americans' inability to discuss sexuality with teens is harming youth.
- Accurate and timely, the film exposes the reasons behind our high teen pregnancy and STD rates.
- American attitudes are compared to those of Europeans, to powerful effect.
- Teens, parents, teachers and religious leaders share a wide variety of views.
- There is only one real segment involving gay teens. This might disappoint GLBT audiences.
- This documentary film that looks at the effects of trying to shield American teens from sex.
- Let's Talk About Sex travels around the country interviewing teens, parents, religious leaders experts and teachers.
- Different viewpoints are presented. Some voices in the film support the idea of comprehensive sex ed. but most oppose it.
- Mainstream American attitudes are compared to those of the much more liberal mainstream Dutch views.
- Dutch teens, we learn, have sex at about the same rate as American teens, but have far lower rates of STDs and pregnancies.
- In part, this is due to early sex ed., access to condoms and parents whom they can talk to about their own sexual experiences.
- Back in the US, we are left with the hopeful message that while most still are not, some communities are slowly embracing comprehensive sex ed.
Guide Review - Let's Talk About Sex: Film Review
Lets Talk About Sex is a documentary film made by director, James Houston, in collaboration with Advocates for Youth that explores the harm caused by Americans' inability to talk about sex openly with teenagers.
Houston travels across the United States, hitting the South, New York City, and the West Coast, in order to learn about the realities faced by sexually active teens in this country.
On this journey, we meet pregnant teens, HIV positive young people, and kids who lie to their parents about being sexually active. We also meet religious leaders who preach abstinence, a few who promote comprehensive sex education, and the occasional parent willing to acknowledge that far more harmful to teens than simply having sex, is having sex without accurate information, the tools to keep them safe, and adults to talk to when issues arise.
The film looks at how religious groups have hijacked the message many teens receive about sex, which has resulted in plenty who only learn to "just say no." It then covers how such an empty and unrealistic expectation has resulted, not in teen abstinence, but rather in high teen pregnancy and STD rates.
In an attempt to demonstrate that talking openly about sex with young people is not going to send them careening down a dangerous spiral of destruction, we soon meet Dutch teens and adults, most of whom have wildly different views on teen sexuality than do their American counterparts.
In one of the most telling segments of the film, Dutch and American teens are asked what they think of people who carry condoms. The Dutch teens see carrying a condom as a sign of responsibility and proudly shows theirs off for the camera.
The American teens, on the other hand, freak out over the idea, using words like pervert and douce bag to describe guys who carried condoms and slut, easy, loose and whore to describe girls who did so.
As one American girl says of guys who carry condoms, "I don't think I'd want to be hanging around with someone that ready."
Let's Talk About Sex also addresses issues affecting GLBT teens. It highlights myths about gay teens that have been taught in abstinence-only programs. It also features a young gay couple, one of whom feels that a lack of accurate information about sex, and low self-esteem, were contributing factors that lead to him contracting HIV in high school. But ultimately, Let's Talk About Sex focuses more on the straight teen experience. For what the film hopes to achieve, that's not a bad thing. Let's Talk About Sex truly does an excellent job of exposing the damage wrought by our anti-sex attitudes. However, some GLBT teens might wish for more of a presence.