Relationships & Sex in High School

The following special report highlights the realities of relationships and sex for high school students today. The content contains anonymous testimonials from students and opinions about stigmatization of sex culture. The features reflect each student's personal experiences and opinions and should not be taken as a universal truth. The names in the feature stories have been changed to protect their stories and identities. Stories marked with an * indicate the altered names of the individuals. Following The Express policy, the opinion stories reflect that of the individual authors and not that of the newspaper or editorial board as a whole.

March 13, 2018


“It was when I stopped searching for home within others
and lifted the foundations of home within myself
I found there were no roots more intimate
than those between a mind and body
that have decided to be whole.”
― Rupi Kaur


Art by McKenzie M

Whenever senior Zoe Brooks* feels like she’s losing her identity, she looks at this poem. For her, it serves as a reminder that “you need to be comfortable with yourself before you can go into a relationship.”

The last couple of years have been tough as Zoe experienced the highs and lows of her first long term relationships. She dated her first boyfriend for about six and a half months. Even though the relationship was fulfilling, it was clear to Zoe that her partner had become emotionally abusive and was only invested in the sexual aspects of the relationship.

“For him it wasn’t his first girlfriend but for me it was my first boyfriend–my first everything basically,” said Brooks. “It hurts, but I don’t regret any of it because it’s definitely a lesson to learn from and in my relationship now I am a lot stronger and it’s a lot stronger of a relationship, and it’s very balanced.”

Zoe learned the importance of putting herself first and not being afraid to speak out if she didn’t feel comfortable or if there wasn’t consent involved.

“A big part about young relationships is that a lot of girls and guys both get so wrapped up in the moment and get so fearful about what the other one is thinking that they forget if they’re okay with what’s going on, and they want to please the other person and make that person happy because at that point in time you’re young and that person is your whole world,” said Brooks.

In Zoe’s past relationship she felt it became so much about the sex that the emotional aspect and respecting each other’s boundaries became secondary. There was a lot she wasn’t comfortable with, but didn’t communicate and simply followed along with out of fear he wouldn’t love her anymore and break up with her. This eventually led to doing things she had not consented to.

“I didn’t say anything because I was too scared that person wasn’t going to like me or was going to breakup with me. At that time they were my whole world, and I lost myself in them,” said Brooks. “In this relationship, I definitely communicate and it’s honest. It makes a relationship go a lot smoother.”

Another factor that led Zoe to realize her relationship was problematic, and possibly abusive, was when she lost her sense of identity. At first she was blind to the issue, but after being confronted by her mom, her friends, and her family, she had a wake up call and decided it was time to end the relationship.

“I started to realize it because I was told I couldn’t wear certain clothing by my significant other, and I was told not to do certain things. Having boundaries is very healthy in a relationship and if you kind of feel off about something you need to be able to talk about that, but being controlling over another person, that’s not okay,” said Brooks. “I’m a very outspoken person and in that relationship I lost myself. I lost that aspect of myself and I became very passive, and he became very aggressive. It wasn’t healthy.”

In order for any relationship to work, communication has to be honest and accurate, and both people need to be able to speak their mind while also being mature and civil. This includes communicating if you need some space or need to spend more time with friends and family.

“I think that’s very healthy, and if that person truly loves you, then they’ll recognize that, and they’ll be okay with it, and they’ll love and support you the entire way through it,” said Brooks.

Besides the immaturity, the biggest challenge for Zoe in high school relationships is finding the right balance between herself, her partner, school, extracurriculars, and work.

“I’ve definitely learned to make myself my own world and focus on myself first and need some space or need to spend more time with friends and family.

“I think that’s very healthy, and if that person truly loves you, then they’ll recognize that, and they’ll be okay with it, and they’ll love and support you the entire way through it,” said Brooks.

Besides the immaturity, the biggest challenge for Zoe in high school relationships is finding the right balance between herself, her partner, school, extracurriculars, and work.

“I’ve definitely learned to make myself my own world and focus on myself first and then the priorities and then the relationship and it’s kind of like like I’m the ice cream and the rest is just toppings, you know the relationship, athletics, academics– it all comes after myself.”

Similarly, in regards to sex, she believes the key thing is to be on the same page, so that if you’re going too slow or too fast, you can communicate and find the happy medium. This is especially important when having sex for the first time, and Zoe stresses how important it is to have conversations about it.

In the end, Zoe doesn’t regret anything that has happened in her relationships. Even though there were moments of pain and tough periods, there were also some of her best memories and happiest moments.

“You’ve got to go into a relationship thinking that in the end, if everything is said and done, you need to come out of that relationship mature and still okay with that other person and yourself,” said Brooks.

If you or a loved one is believed to be in an abusive relationship, call 1-800-799-7233 or visit


Art by McKenzie M.

For senior John Smith*, sex is way too overhyped.

“I feel like sex can just be a way of getting physical pleasure, like playing a sport. You get that release of endorphins. Sex can just be a physical need or to just satisfy yourself,” he said.

Smith is 17 years old and has been sexually active since the summer after his junior year. He and his first partner, who is now his ex-boyfriend, both thought in depth about the decision to consummate their relationship. The teenage boys had been dating for a couple months at the time.

“It’s built up to kind of more than it should be built up to. There’s this stigma around sex. It’s not everything it’s built up to be, personally. I don’t know if that’s just for gay people or if it’s different for heterosexuals,” said Smith.

Because of his sexuality, his biggest concern about having sex is contracting AIDs, due to the statistically high rates in the gay community. He strictly practices safe sex.

Consent and openness are also important for him.

“I always ask, ‘Are you comfortable with this?’ Sometimes it gets awkward when they are like ‘Yes, of course I am okay with this,’ but it’s better because I don’t want to feel like I am forcing anyone into anything,” said Smith.

For Smith, sex without complete honesty is the equivalent of not having consent.

“People can lie to get sex out of you,” he said.

He was once slept with a person who was in a relationship, unbeknownst to him. He still feels bad about it to this day.
Regret does not usually characterize Smith’s sexual experiences, but he has had a few unfortunate moments.

Over social media, he got a text from a boy who wanted to hook up. He went to a local hotel to meet him, and they ended up in bed together with another guy as well. Smith wasn’t into it, but he had an acceptable time, until they were disrupted.
The parents of one of the boys walked in; and, other than the expected awkwardness, one thing was immediately clear: he hadn’t come out of the closet yet.

Smith quickly left after; and, according to him, the act of sex is affected by whether someone has “come out” in public.
“There’s a lot of anxiety for both people involved. You can tell when you are doing it with someone who’s open that they are a lot more open-minded, carefree, and not as self-conscious about what they are doing. It’s a lot more relaxed; but, when you are doing it with someone who is closeted, there’s more tension and secrecy,” said Smith.

Coming out not only affects one’s sex life as they are in the act; it affects their access to partners as well. Coming out almost serves as a signal to the gay community that one is ready to date.

“Once you come out and have been in a relationship and done stuff with a guy, it gets around the gay community. I ignore a lot of guys because I just don’t want to have anything to do with them,” said Smith.

He mostly finds his partners and gets requests over social media and the internet.

Social media, especially Grindr and Tinder, are a huge part of their “hook-up society,” which is quite big in the gay community due to their limited dating pool, according to Smith.

There is even a “gay network” that spans Orange County.

“All the gays know all the gays and everybody has hooked up with everybody, unless you are not sexually active. All the gays follow all the gays on social media. Everyone has a Grindr account, everybody just like hooks up with everybody. Him and I will be like, ‘Have you seen this guy?’ and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah I hooked up with him a while ago,’ and it’s just like a weird network,” said Smith.

Another obstacle in the sex lives of gay people, other than the limited dating pool, is the confusion over virginity. For a gay person, when they lose their virginity is completely subjective because the traditional image involves heterosexual intercourse.
Smith didn’t realize that he wasn’t a virgin until after a few times having sex.

“I actually had an argument with one of my friends about this. He thinks virginity is like the first time you have sex, and I agree: that’s the societal definition. For me, I think virginity is kind of like experience. Once you have sex with a certain amount of people, not just one time. Then, you are truly experienced sexually with different people, different tastes. Inexperience can also equate to virginity. You can have sex and not be experienced sexually,” said Smith.

Virginity is precious and beautiful for Smith, though.

“I perceive virginity to be respectable because once you’re not a virgin, the sex loses that special kind of stigma when you end up having sex. I feel like virginity is, not like ‘Virginity is cool,’ but I think virginity isn’t something that kids should hate or want to get rid of or anything. It is something that they should be proud of because it shows a sense of control, like they are not just going to put themself out there for anyone just to say they are not a virgin,” said Smith.


Art by McKenzie M.

For bisexual 18-year old senior Kevin Landon*, sex started out as more of a shameful act than something enjoyable.

“This is actually an interesting story. It was with a friends-with-benefits at his house, prom night of last year. I did it instead of going to prom. It was kind of a weird experience. Like, it was fun, but it’s kind of weird going home at 2 a.m. reflecting like, ‘Oh, I did this instead of going to prom.’ I really shouldn’t have cared that much,” he said.

Almost a year later, Landon remains unsure if he regrets this decision. He claims it shaped who he is. Although he has supportive parents, his sexuality still troubled him.

“I felt bad for a long time. I used to hate myself for my sexuality. Which is dumb. No one should have to go through that because it’s something that you can’t control and anything that’s out of your control you shouldn’t worry over, especially if it’s not hurting somebody else,” said Landon.

His first partner made him feel comfortable for deviating from “the norm.” He was inspired by how open and confident the boy was about his sexuality and worked on emulating some of these characteristics.

However, he still encountered some stigma. As a bisexual male, Landon is often seen as in denial or unable to choose between men or women, which has been a point of contention in Landon’s life, especially when he was first exploring his sexuality. It is a common myth in society that there is a “so-called” percentage split of how much bisexual people are attracted to one gender over the other. Landon has mixed views about this. On one hand, it is correct in his experience, as it is not a 50/50 split. He generally prefers guys to girls. However, it still implies that there is a quantifiable number, which Landon says is not the case for him.

“I know it’s weird, but guys are way easier than girls. They want to f*** all the time,” he said.

He thinks this could be due to the greater stigma and shame against girls who have sex. He has never been shamed for not being a virgin.

For Landon, when engaging in soley hookups there’s no reason to be emotionally involved. For him, it was always easy to know his sexuality; if you find yourself innately attracted to someone then the logical conclusion is that you should label yourself accordingly. Emotional connection are not a priority for him, as long as everyone is safe.

While he is living under his parent’s roof, finding the means to have safe, open sex is difficult.
For this very reason, Landon has mostly had sex in a car.

“A lot in my car, actually. It used to be my old car, but luckily that’s been totalled. You don’t have to worry about getting into my car everybody!” he joked.

He isn’t frustrated with his parents or adults in general for restricting the means by which he can have sex.
“If I had a kid, I wouldn’t want to know anything about their sex life either. It’s totally understandable,” said Landon.

He has never told his parents explicitly about his sexual activity; however, he assumes they are aware.
“I think parents know what kids do that kids don’t tell parents,” he said.

Unlike his parents, most of Landon’s friends explicitly know. He has never experienced shame personally for not being a virgin. His bisexuality has been the biggest source of criticism in his life.

“I think there is a bit of a stigma. But, I don’t really care about stigma; and, if anybody invests in stigma or thinks that anyone is different because of their sexual preference, then I don’t need to deal with [them],” he said.

Landon’s sexual partners have only been people who respect him, or even love him for his identity.
“Girls are obsessed with gay guys in a non-romantic way. Gay guys are obsessed with straight guys in a sexual way. To them, I am half-straight. It’s weird and almost like a fetish,” said Landon.

Landon thinks there is too much pressure and hype for sex. For him, it can just be fun. He doesn’t necessarily need a special connection with his partner before or after.

“Don’t place too much or even any value or higher significance on it than what it is because if you get too worked up over, ‘Oh this is my first time. Is it going to be as good as I want it to be?’ then you are going to wind up disappointed,” he said.
For Landon, the first time someone has sex is just that: the first time of many. There is no pressure to get it to be “perfect.”

Pregnancy Scare

Art by McKenzie M.

One of the most common fears about being sexually active is unplanned pregnancy, especially for teens. Horror stories of teen girls having to give up their education and young life to raise a child are all too common in the media, from television shows, news articles, movies, and even books.

For many sexually active girls, including Sarah*, the possibility of getting pregnant is a constant fear. Despite using “the pill,” there is still always a tiny inkling of fear in the back of her mind.

“As a female, especially at a young age, when you’re sexually active, it’s something you always worry about…I’m a very dramatic person so my period will be late one day and I’ll think ‘oh my god that’s it I’m pregnant,’ even if I’m not. You overhype it, because it’s such a big deal, but then it turns out to be nothing,” said Sarah.

Sarah became sexually active when she was 15 years old, and at the beginning was terrified of becoming pregnant. She would immediately assume the worst. She’s very open with her boyfriend about her fears and has told him every time she has had a scare.

“I’ve told my boyfriend every single time, and he’s gotten over it by now, he knows it’s nothing. But at the beginning it obviously scared him. Talking about that with someone is nerve wracking. Obviously it’s good to talk about it, but when it could be his baby too, obviously he gets concerned and worried,” said Sarah.

For her, the fear of teen pregnancy doesn’t make her rethink her decision to be sexually active. It’s more of an afterthought.
“When you’re in the moment, you don’t think about that. It’s afterwards is when you think about it,” said Sarah.

She said that if she ever turned out to be pregnant, she would probably get an abortion. She explained how she doesn’t think she could deal with the immense toll pregnancy takes on a person’s life and knows she isn’t fit to be a mother yet.

“I’d be the worst mother in the world right now, and my boyfriend isn’t ready to be a father. Also I don’t think you should be embarrassed to say ‘I need to do what’s best for myself and what’s best for my life.’ As a woman in today’s society and past society you’re expected to be unselfish and do everything for everyone else,” she said.

Sarah isn’t alone as a sexually active teenager. The average woman loses her virginity at 17 years old. She advises to only become sexually active when you personally feel ready and to only have sex with someone you know well and trust.

“Get on birth control for sure if you’re having sex, or use condoms. Be responsible and be safe. I’m safe, I’m just dramatic. Don’t worry too much and let it take over your life. If you’re being safe and using contraceptives the odds are so small, but they’re still there so be careful,” said Sarah.

The lack of in-depth sexual education in American schools, coupled with the taboo surrounding teenagers and sex is the cause of high teenage pregnancy rates in the US. Sarah took sexual education middle school, and felt it was lacking in useful information about safe sex. She took health over the summer and says that that class didn’t have a comprehensive sex-ed portion.

“I feel sex-ed [in midle school] was really lacking…they really preach abstinence if talking about sex at all,” Sarah said.

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, comprehensive sex education has shown to lower the amount of teen pregnancy, not increase the risk of teenagers being sexually active. Abstinence only programs are not only inaccurate, but dangerous for today’s teens. A lack of education does not decrease the amount of teens having sex, it only puts them more at risk to not use protection, spreading STD’s and causing unplanned pregnancies.

“If you’re responsible enough be having sex you should be responsible enough to educate yourself…there is some responsibility for schools, but then again I mean there’s Google now, so there’s no excuse to not be educated,” Sarah said.

Waiting Until Marriage

Art by McKenzie M.

A relationship is defined as the emotional and sexual connection of two people; however, today, the the actions that constitute a relationship can mean so many different things.

Growing up in a very religious and strong household Clarine* was taught the importance of saving sex for marriage and so when she started dating Bill* freshman year she made sure that that value still held true.

“We talked when we first started dating, we just set down ground rules … and we both agreed that since we are both so religious that it would be best if we didn’t have sex,” said Clarine.

Religion was the main factor behind their decision to abstain, but they also prefer to focus on strengthening their emotional connection to one another. “My religious values dictate that [sex] should only be between married couples,” said Bill.

Some conflict among peers has come from their decision but the couple will not waver from their core beliefs. “Often people will ask me if I’ve ‘scored that’ or they tell me I should ‘tap that,’ but once I tell them about my religious beliefs they back off,” said Bill.

Throughout the obstacles they have faced in their two year long relationship Bill and Clarine find comfort in each other and how strong their emotional connection is.

“He’s like my best friend so we hang out all the time and… I just love spending time with him because he’s such a great person,” said Clarine.

As they struggle with their decision they remember the ramifications early sex has. “I have friends who do have sex and I think that it stresses them out a lot because they’re always worried that they are pregnant or ‘oh my gosh what if he leaves me and we’ve had sex’ so I think it just causes unnecessary stress for a high school relationship,” said Clarine.

The couple is mature enough to know that the choice is for them to make, and they believe that, in order to have a safe and special first time, by saving themselves for marriage they will prosper.

“God is in our body and our bodies are His temple so if we let someone disrespect His temple it’s just not right,” said Clarine.
The couple has no regrets or doubts for abstaining and are very willing to wait to explore the sexual side of their relationship until ready.

Popping the Cherry of the Virginity Myth

First things first, let’s address a disclaimer: virginity, the concept of not having sexual experience in the mundane sense, is a true concept.
The problem with virginity is the stigma that surrounds it and how that has become an impediment on coming-of-age and embracing sensuality.
Virginity used to only concern unmarried women because it determined their “suitability” to marry men. Here we find the sexist roots of the V-card that objectify women as a prize for unmarried men.
The problems with this idea are endless– hello sexism and heteronormativity. But essentially, the main problem with the concept of virginity is the negative culture created from being a virgin for too long.
Teens are growing up thinking they must lose their virginity before they are out of high school.
Any concept that shames youths for having or not having sex is detrimental. The culture of slut-shaming derives from a mindset that challenges teens regardless of actual sexual experience.
Breakfast Club, a film released in 1985, is famously quoted by our oh-so-relatable high school freak: “Well, if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?”
Virginity is caging in young girls who feel like they have to make quick decisions about their bodies or they will be criticized. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t stop there. This shame culture also applies to young men. Although men are usually congratulated for dropping the “V,” if they don’t by a certain time, again stereotypes fall hard on their shoulders.
Women are either ridiculed for having sex too early (cue the slew of slut shaming names) or idealized far beyond attainability for creating a perfect model of chastity if they wait until marriage.
Many people credit religion as the motivator for abstinence until the wedding night, but how could everyone expect two people to enter a marriage– assuming it will last– and plan to remain faithful to only them without exploring a part of their relationship beforehand?
Yes, sex should not be the main reason for love or matrimony, but it is a healthy part of most relationships.This is no way suggesting that marriage cannot be healthy or prosperous without sex; asexual relationships and marriages are as valid as they are existent.
Modern day relationships should be moving away from tradionality– the stigma of moving in with a partner and exploring physical parts of relationships before marrying, needs to go.
Although abstinence until marriage for religious or moral reasons is completely acceptable, the stigma that if you don’t wait then you are impure is as toxic as it is normalized.
Here’s a fact: hymens do not determine virginity. If you are unfamiliar with that term, a hymen is thin membrane that partially closes the opening to the vagina. This iswhere we get the term “pop your cherry.” Despite common belief, a woman can break her hymen without the insertion of genitals or others items for sexual activities and can still be a virgin.
Many young women break their hymen before their menstrual cycle begins from sports like horseback riding, biking, or water skiing. Commonly, a hymen breaks when inserting a tampon.
Losing your virginity is usually viewed in a heteronormative light– this leaves the LGBT community left questioning in the dust.
In a society where we need to quantify our “first time,” people struggle with really identifying this when losing it only means a certain thing inserting into another. What about all the other ways? Who is to tell you what counts and what doesn’t?
Here lies the underlying issue: virginity is viewed as an exclusive virtue to protect and give to one opposite gendered person on a very special day, but that is not cutting it for all those not conforming.
Now is the time for acceptance of any sexual experimentation and experiences at any stage in someone’s life with any one they choose. As long as both parties are consenting, mutually benefitting, and understand the potential ramifications of their choices, then sex is okay.
The sex-positive movement is escaping the confines of chastity belts and objectifying women and is accepting of everyone’s choice about sex to create a safe, inclusive and judgement-free environment.

Do I Look Slutty?

There is no way to be correct. No matter what a woman does, she is going to be criticized for it. Even as women are starting to be more empowered and encouraged to embrace their sexualities, slut shaming and prude shaming still is rife within our society. Simply put, we are dangerously stuck in the past.
Society is wrong, and it is tragic. The way we present our bodies does not give others the right to judge who we are on the inside. This idea also perpetuates misogynistic and sexist core beliefs.
Society has given women two labels: Slut or prude. There is simply no inbetween. We give these labels the power to make us feel dirty or ashamed, but this must come to an end. We, as human beings, are better than that.
Slut shaming is a society’s way of punishing a woman by labelling her “out-of-control” or “lacking self control,” especially when it comes to their sexual choices and experiences.
Most women have been slut shamed. Whether it’s for kissing too many boys or wearing a slightly revealing top, there is truly no way for a woman to do something right.
There’s always a number, a number which we let define us and others. The number of how many people someone has kissed, the number of how many people someone has slept with, the list goes on and on.
Everyone has a different idea of the “perfect number.” However, there is no perfect number. In fact, the number itself is irrelevant.
Just because someone has been with more people than someone else, does not make them a slut. Just because they’ve been with less does not make them a prude.
Prude-shaming is another toxic trend of society, and something immediately needs to be done to stop it.
Labels like these are arbitrary and serve to categorize people based on their sexual proclivities. Oftentimes they are also meant to be insulting – it’s gross to be a slut and lame to be a prude.
We all need to recognize that sex is a part of life. The physical and emotional value of a human isn’t based off their number of sexual partners.
Calling someone a slut or a prude isn’t the same as just calling someone stupid. Both words are nouns and are used to exploit a person’s private life. These words marginalize people, which exemplifies why labeling someone and noting a trait are completely different.
Women that use these harsh words against each other diminish any progress of empowerment. Standing up and sticking together is the one thing women have complete control over and yet they still don’t use it to its advantage.
Tearing other women down just says to men that it is okay for them to do the same.
In the same way, criticizing other women based off what they are wearing or how they act teaches men it is okay to do so and ultimately invites sexism and misogyny.
Whether one has sex on the first date or doesn’t kiss until the fifth, it is nothing but a personal choice. As long as it is consensual and they feel safe, it is HEALTHY and NATURAL. It is crucial that we all ingrain that into our minds rather than the idea that judging someone based on their sensuality is okay.
Sensuality is just one aspect of a person. The way someone dresses, or how they act, or how much or little sex a person is having absolutely does not define them.

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  • B

    BarryMar 31, 2018 at 8:16 AM

    RE: John Doe Reply of March 19th. – Such a wise, cogent response! Thank you for articulating an unpopular worldview in your reply. Whether anyone approves or not, is bothered or not; irregardless we should note that Generation Z has been successfully discipled by our cultural elites at almost every level.
    Post-Christian messaging has imprinted the intended target generation to no ones surprise. The secular worldview which champions our moral revolution has
    found willing advocates and evangels in our present day adolescent journalists. They would make the opinion page of the NYT and WAPO very proud.

    Of course as your say, there truly is “nothing new under the sun”. Pre- and post-Biblical times are replete with accounts of mankind practicing relativism and ‘practical atheism’ under the guise of enlightenment. Recent polling tells us that greater than 90 percent of us retain a belief in the existence of God. Belief void of morality and ethics results in what C. S. Lewis said was a people or “men without chests”, meaning without a functioning conscience.

    It is most certainly NOT unloving to draw attention to these matters. I grieve for our youth whose newfound (sexual) freedom cannot deliver what is promised, but surely produces disappointment, disillusionment, and further scarring and depletion of human potential (as defined by the Creator).

  • F

    FrankMar 21, 2018 at 9:45 AM

    While you may feel empowered to publish these articles, it is disappointing to read how discriminate the responses are to those that maintain traditional values. I do appreciate including the one story about abstinence. If you speak with many adults that engaged in sexual activity in high school, most regret it.
    Parents and adults do have perspective that children do not. It is more important to listen than it is to speak. Although I do not oppose anyone’s choice of sexual preference, it is their choice, I have an issue with what is being considered “cutting” edge journalism from a few in the student body, and likely some teachers, while at the same notion bullying those that think otherwise. This is the agenda of the special interest groups. Let’s force feed you with our written propaganda and when someone disagrees or is reprimanded we can’t discuss it rationally, it escalates to a point of divide. That is where we are headed unfortunately in education and in the US now. No one can appreciate the discussion and debate without getting to an emotional breaking point.

  • R

    Robert HMar 16, 2018 at 6:31 PM

    I am proud these kids have the spine to speak about real life and how it truly unfolds. Keep pushing the envelope. Let the haters stay busy complaining while the enlightened live.

  • L

    LynnMar 15, 2018 at 10:11 PM

    I’m thankful and applaud an institution that provides and promotes students to TALK (and print) about otherwise difficult topics and engages TEENAGERS to open up in situations they may not otherwise feel comfortable. If you aren’t having conversation you aren’t effecting change. Shouldn’t we as parents be working to facilitate an environment where our kids are engaged rather than bystanders to their lives? Congratulations to these outstanding students!

  • O

    OliviaMar 15, 2018 at 3:53 PM

    I’m so proud to attend a school where students are brave enough to voice their opinions and discuss their experiences. While I understand that these topics may be controversial to some, the experiences detailed in this article are those that reflect the experiences of many high schoolers today. What I find to be truly disappointing is to be living in a community where grown adults believe that sex is “filthy” and accuse high school students of having “sex addictions.” These articles do not endorse any sexual behavior, they merely explain what some students have gone through and how these experiences affected them mentally and emotionally. Thank you to everyone at the Express who was brave enough to publish this article, I appreciate all your hard work!

  • D

    Darci BergMar 15, 2018 at 7:34 AM

    Where are the opposing opinions if people are free to “speak their minds?” Probably have been censored out?

    • K

      KimMar 21, 2018 at 10:14 AM

      my comment was never posted. It was respectful and supported the students in speaking about sex, but wished they had addressed the risky and possible illegal behaviors. It was an opportunity to discuss consent, keeping strong boundaries (since two subjects in the article engaged in activities they didn’t want to do). It would have been a place to provide resources for support, if anyone needed counseling or felt trapped in a bad relationship. The article that described tinder hook ups made me very concerned about kids meeting adults and being vulnerable to sex trafficking.
      Where was the advisor when kids were writing about these??
      A young man was just murdered in our area, after a tinder hookup. I understand that kids aren’t thinking if the risks and legal issues, but what the heck is going on with the advisor and the adults that are applauding this?

  • J

    Jeff CreerMar 14, 2018 at 8:48 PM

    Let’s see if the “moderators” have their journalistic free speech caps on.

  • J

    Jeff CreerMar 14, 2018 at 7:42 PM

    Although I have great respect for the promise today’s bright, bold , and brave high school students bring to our world’s future, I’m extremely disappointed to read these stories and experiences. Instead of painting a picture of mature young adults, these show how many teenagers rationalize their “entitlement” or “right” to have sexual relationships before they are ready to take responsibility. One writes she would even choose to have her pregnancy aborted. This is simply another disturbing example of the slow decay of strong character , healthy ideals, and admirable morals. The school needs to work with parents and their teens to hone their self-discipline skills. Buckle up…it’s going to be a rough ride.

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    Robin CashionMar 14, 2018 at 7:29 PM

    I want to applaud the editors for having the courage to write this story, a story that needs to be told and expressed amongst your peers. Just remember any time you write a story that touches on very sensitive subject matters, you will always have an outpouring of critics that want to shut you down… that usually means you hit a nerve and started the right communication that needed to take place in the first place. I say you all did a great job writing this… coming from a MOTHER of 2 boys in CUSD.

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    Heather S.Mar 14, 2018 at 10:36 AM

    Proud of these students demonstrating what they are learning about journalism! As a parent myself, I want to apologize for all the pearl-clutching helicopter parents freaking out on social media. Clearly some families aren’t willing to have the hard conversations and I weep for whether some of our kids are truly being prepared for college (or even life outside of their mommy and daddy’s house). Just because various world-views are expressed does not mean we need to endorse them. The point of an education is to examine various and sometimes contradicting facts, theories and perspectives — and come to one’s own evolving world view. I’m horrified that the paper’s adviser was put on leave and hope the SJHHS principal can get it together before my kid gets there (assuming we don’t move out of the district which is a growing possibility).

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    TaylorMar 14, 2018 at 10:35 AM

    I think it’s awesome that people are being more open to talk about things. That the students were brave to publish this paper. If people gave their stories and were okay with their names being published, I don’t see why it’s such a big deal to everyone else. Everyone’s aloud to have opinions but this was a BOLD move!

  • K

    Kellian LorenzenMar 14, 2018 at 12:17 AM

    I am so grateful to attend a school where we talk about consent and supporting people on what is comfortable and normal for them. It is essential that we are able to say our truth, so we are all open to different perspectives from students.

    • J

      John DoeMar 21, 2018 at 9:28 AM

      So grateful for consent? How many of these stories describe insecurity and and non-consent? Zoe admitted doing things she would rather have not done, but was afraid. In the Gay story the boy was not really excited to be in a threesome with some “guy”. If the goal was to bring awareness to the lack of consent in the sexual promiscuity of students, then mission accomplished.

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    Alyssa MitchellMar 13, 2018 at 11:28 PM

    I am so incredibly proud to be an alumni of The Express newspaper. This morning I received numerous texts from my fellow editors about the community-wide backlash regarding these stories and I was shocked. Our previous “touchy subject” stories had never received this type of negative feedback. I was appalled when I read some of the disrespectful comments from parents calling the stories “piles of garbage.” From personal experience, countless hours are devoted to crafting and perfecting these stories, and after that, even more time is spent designing the layout and editing images.
    Regardless if these stories align or do not align with your political or religious beliefs, I implore you to be understanding of perhaps a different sentiment. As the Founder and former President of Young Republicans Club, I can admit that these stories may be uncomfortable for some conservatives, but it is necessary that we embrace different viewpoints and are open to understanding other opinions.

  • R

    Ryan PaulMar 13, 2018 at 11:20 PM

    This article was insulting and appalling to a lot of gay students. You used one person to describe his crazy sex addiction and made it seem normal within the gay community. You did not bother to get other points of views. Not all gay people use Grindr and this article gave a lot of students that notion. I know this because I am gay and I talked to my friends about it. Even they said it was a misinterpretation of gay people and embarrassing for people like me. I felt embarrassed, and bad for the students who are struggling to come out. This does not in anyway help them to feel more comfortable with themselves. I️ know you probably won’t approve this comment, but Ihope you understand this point of view and see where others are coming from.

    • K

      KimMar 21, 2018 at 10:08 AM

      Bravo Ryan for speaking out. While i have no criticism for the writers speaking out about sex, I do believe it lacked responsibility, by promoting dangerous behaviors without thinking about its impact on others.
      It seems the Express staff want to blast any criticism, labeling it homophobic. I hope all students see that most of us just care about all students being safe, and it’s not a slam on lgbtq kids.

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    Ava BachelderMar 13, 2018 at 9:46 PM

    I am proud to go to a school whose community talks openly about real and important topics. Censorship has no place in our student body. I found this content both empowering and relevant!

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    Dezireh BehzadiMar 13, 2018 at 9:17 PM

    I’m glad that students are able to freely speak out about this. Even though some people think that’s its a “touchy” subject, it still should be talked about because it’s reality.

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    Leila MurrayMar 13, 2018 at 8:45 PM

    I love the boldness of this article! This needs to be talked about more. As a first year in college I was a little surprised on how openly the school talks about sex and consent, but it is so important!! The earlier schools start tackling these topics, the better. College is too late to be learning about consent and stigma. We NEED better sexual education in schools.

  • K

    Kyle CopleyMar 13, 2018 at 7:09 PM

    I’m so glad to go a school where students can speak their minds. Honestly good information for a lot of students

  • D

    Daniela MurrayMar 13, 2018 at 5:58 PM

    I think this is amazing. For kids to be expressing their feeling so openly is a sign of great maturity. Anyone who is offended by this or thinks it is not appropriate for a High School news paper to be writing about these topics, is not in tune with the current teenage climate. I am the mother of 3 kids, ages 16, 19, 21. They are very open with me and I am very honest with them. I know for a fact kids in high school do not feel comfortable talking to their parents about these topics. To those parents who think this is not appropriate, get a reality check. Be thankful instead of critical. I guarantee your child is either lying to you or just not saying anything because being opposed to free thinking and writing says everything about your relationship with your child.

    • J

      John DoeMar 19, 2018 at 11:37 AM

      The TRUTH about sex. First and foremost, I am not judging anyone in this thread so know that my comments come from a place of love and compassion. The problem with the comments reflected in the Express publication is not that they came from high school students. High school students need to feel empowered to express their feelings and using their 1st Ammendment rights is their God-given consitutional right! However, what is also Constitutional for those who care to read our country’s founding document is that the United States of America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and beliefs. That is incontrovertible. And, this will never change.

      Now, choosing to reject those principles either individually or as a society isn’t a new phenomenon and is also anyone’s God-given right. But, since we are a self-governing Republic, rejecting these principles does bear unfortunate consequences. More on that in a moment. Back to the sex topic. Having sex as a physically, emotionally and spritually growing person is a very consequential decision. Giving in to your body’s sexual urges is the easiest thing we humans can do because if something “feels good” and is obviously what my body is “telling me to do”, shouldn’t I do it? Ahh the critically important word here is “should”. To answer that question, wouldn’t it be nice to pick up the phone and call our Creator and ask that question directly to God? “Hi God it’s me. You know me and you knew every hair on my head before I was made. Quick question. Should I have sex before marriage? Just text me back when you get a sec”.

      The question is what did God intend when he created, designed, invented sex? Why did he give us this amazingly euphoric and sensationally gratifying thing called sex if we weren’t supposed to use it whenever, however and with whomever we wanted? The answer is because it’s a gift that we must handle with care because if misused, it can lead to unintended consequences. And, for those who claim “look old person…times have changed” and to “wake up and embrace the sexual revolution”, I’ve got news for you: today’s culture and world-view is IDENTICAL to how many lived 2,000 years ago. Same problems different year..

      Read your Old Testament teachings people. It’s found in this book called the Bible and it’s like totes more popular than Instagram will ever be. And it actually WILL change your life and not just your status. Neither people nor sexual immorality has changed. And don’t get angry when you hear the word IMMORAL. That simply means something that goes against what God wants for us. Today’s seeming movement away from God and toward a God-less world view also isn’t new. It’s the same old story. The problem is that this world-view of “if it feels good do it” is neither a practice, a theology nor a faith-guiding principle. It’s just people acting on emotions. It’s not wisdom. It’s biological urges being exercised not better spiritual or psychological senses overriding them It’s giving into our basic corporal and animal instincts.

      If that is our design, why don’t we give into ALL of our basic instincts? Well that’s an easy one. We don’t because we know that “restraint” and “morality” is what separates us from every other loving, breathting creature. When we are angry we don’t simply attack and eviscerate. When we are scared we don’t simply cower in the corner. We think. We reason. We use our inherent and inate sense of right versus wrong. But, who gave us that sense of right vs. wrong? We are designed in the image of God…every single one of us. For a mind-blowing read check out the world renowned book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. He was one of the world’s foremost authors (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Narnia, etc.), thinkers and aetheists of his time in the 1930’s until he became on the world’s foremost theologians and Christians. His best friend J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) was also a fellow aetheist who became a devoted Christian.

      Folks, we are all incredible works of art and we have been carefully designed by our Creator who has unbelievably cool plans in store for all of us. Engaging in pre-marital sex though is simply lazy living. It’s not at all aspirational. Yes it feels amazing in the moment. Listen, I know that abstaining seems absolutely impossible. But, despite the temporary feelings of euphoria that follows it, “practicing” sex will almost always lead to brokenness, isolation, shame,, sadness, pregnancy, and sadly, unnecessarily aborted lives.

      Ask yourself the simple question before making this literally life-altering decision? Am I ready right this moment to marry this person? Am I prepared right at this very moment to potentially end a life? Then ask the only question worth asking: Why do it? Not teaching our children about God’s view of sexuality and morality is the greatest mistake parents can ever make it will stunt their image of God, of themselves, of their eventual partners, and this cycle may very well continue with their own children.

      Sex is not currency that can be cashed in to the hottest bidder. You don’t need sex to validate your status, your relationship, your importance or your popularity. If your partner doesn’t share that “value” that you place on something so treasured, that should tell you this might not the right person for you. Sex was carefully designed to literally “give life” and was intended to be the most treasured gift that God could ever offer to a loving couple. God made this as an expression of the love he has for us that we could experience something so bonding, magical, affirming and life-giving. Wait for it… it is SO worth it. And, if you have already done it, now is the time to reconsider what you do from this point forward and to know that God absolutely treasures you right now, despite your past! That is the TRUTH about sex.

      • J

        John Doe Jr.Mar 21, 2018 at 8:59 AM

        This is not a Catholic School John Doe stop trying to make us out like Santa Margarita where students have no rights…

      • J

        John Doe Jr. Jr.Mar 21, 2018 at 9:35 AM

        The TRUTH about sex. It happens. Yes, it is true that in a Judeo-Christian based interpretation of our founding documents, it can be extrapolated that sex before marriage is sinful. Yes it is true that our founding fathers were influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas and ideals. However, are you so arrogant to blindly suffocate all others with your ideals? Is your blinding ego so insatiable that you would go to the lengths of demeaning teens about their lives to satisfy yourself? If I am not mistaken, you said that “When we are angry we don’t simply attack and eviscerate” yet you, a man of God, have just commuted the very same treachery. You would so despairingly eviscerate the fragility of youth for your own desires. Did you destroy because it simply felt good? I hope, rather I pray, that somebody as misguided as you can find the compassion in your heart to accept these poor, misguided teens who seek the same salvation you do.