The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering advice to parents and teens about sex education, including assurances that teens may “experiment” with homosexuality as part of “exploring their own sexuality,” and that masturbation should be of concern only “if a child seems preoccupied with it to the exclusion of other activities.”
The information, located on a “Questions and Answers About Sex” link on the “Quick Guide to Healthy Living” portion of the HHS Web site, also describes children and infants as “sexual beings.”
Under the question “When Do Kids Start Becoming Curious About Sex?” the answer notes that infants have curiosity about their bodies.
“Children are human beings and therefore sexual beings,” the Q&A Web page says. “It's hard for parents to acknowledge this, just as it's hard for kids to think of their parents as sexually active. But even infants have curiosity about their own bodies, which is healthy and normal.”
As for masturbation and “what sort of ‘sexual’ behavior do young kids exhibit?” the page says, “Parents should only be concerned about masturbation if a child seems preoccupied with it to the exclusion of other activities. Victims of sexual abuse sometimes become preoccupied with self-stimulation.”
“Thinking sexually about both the same sex and the opposite sex is quite common as teens sort through their emerging sexual feelings,” the page says. “This type of imagining about people of the same or opposite sex doesn't necessarily mean that a person fits into a particular type of sexual orientation.”
“Some teens may also experiment with sexual experiences, including those with members of the same sex, during the years they are exploring their own sexuality,” the page reads. “These experiences, by themselves, do not necessarily mean that a teen is gay or straight.”
The HHS Web site reassures teens and parents that having homosexual tendencies as a young person is “common” as teens “sort through their emerging sexual feelings.”
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