At Rainbow Con they had several young adult panels, which is of interest to me since I read quite a bit of YA fiction. I only made it to one of the panels (damn scheduling!) but I was both bewildered and interested in what the panelists had to say. There were 5, I think, authors of YA m/m fiction and the topics ranged from language, sex, violence, and accurate portrayals.
Interestingly all the authors agreed that foul language, violence, guns, drugs, and so on occur in real life. These are all issues that young adults/teens have to deal with on a regular, if not daily, basis so they should be included in any YA fiction. All authors went into some detail defending their various choices of including these topics. All the arguments were reasonable, articulate, and made sense.
Yet, sex is not ok.
Um. I don’t understand how violence, language, guns, drugs, and bullying are all topics that can and more so should be covered in fiction but sex shouldn’t? Really? How is it that teens and young adults don’t deal with sex and sexual topics? They deal with gangs, drugs, guns, and violence but seriously… not sex. This is a huge disconnect and was so obviously ridiculous I was waiting for someone to point out the dichotomy. Except, shockingly, no one did.
Maybe someone can explain it to me how sex should not be something that YA deal with while all the other topics should be? If we want a utopian world then ok don’t deal with anything difficult or controversial but sex is as much a part of a teen’s life as anything else. That doesn’t mean there has to be graphic sex scene per se, but if there is graphic violence, graphic drug (ab)use and so on, then I think there is a argument to be made about graphic sex scenes having a place as well.
Is this just a reaction of the overly puritanical society that wants to pretend sex doesn’t happen until everyone is 18 and therefore no one should talk about it? Because in that case why are there references and scenes describing underage drinking because that also doesn’t happen until people are 18. I really don’t understand this double standard of how some issues are things teens deal with and so they should be addressed but others should be ignored. Especially in LGBTQ literature where I would think sex would be an issue begging to be addressed even more.
Honestly – can someone enlighten me?