Originally from Vancouver, Canada, I'm a health educator and writer. I am the author of the book, "Good Sexual Citizenship: How to Create a (Sexually) Safer World" (Cleis Press: 2019). My writing has appeared in places including, the Washington Post, the HuffPost, Rewire News, Salon.com and Healthline. These days, I also answer sex and relationship questions on the Okayso app. Much of my writing is related to health and sexuality (both of the adolescent and the adult variety), and some of it covers my experiences parenting. I'm at [email protected]
By Ellen Friedrichs @ellenkatef I get the news about Roe's overturn at breakfast when an alert buzzes on my phone. It is a beautiful day in June and I have been catching up with my cousin who is in from out of town. But that buzz delivers a gut punch that sucks the air from my lungs.
By Ellen Friedrichs @ellenkatef It's a sunny Saturday in June. My daughter is 12, almost 13, and new to taking the subway alone. But today, her two siblings have prior commitments, which means that since she wants to go to a friend's house on the other side of Brooklyn, she will be getting there on her own.
As a health and sexuality educator, I am pretty familiar with the concept of grooming. In fact, during conversations about Internet safety, I often remind students to look out for adults online who just seem too nice, or who are insistent on meeting in real life, or who share porn, in case they are trying to set up a young person for a sexual encounter.
Last week, two of my high school seniors approached me. The Supreme Court draft opinion that portended the overturn of Roe v. Wade - the landmark ruling which had made abortion a constitutional right in 1973 - had just been leaked, and they wanted to discuss what this meant.
Like many teens, my high school years had their fair share of bumps. It was the 1990s, and I was part of a fast crowd; I started dating early and didn't always make great decisions.
In February of 2020, my family got fancy rats. Our much-loved cat, Clifford, had died a few months earlier and my eldest, then thirteen, enlisted her younger siblings to advocate for a new pet.
One health educator says that having a conversation about relationships, consent, and pleasure can help kids grow up safer and healthier. When it comes to talking with our kids about sex, even those of us who feel like we are pretty open-minded can find this a hard topic to tackle.
Parents and adult caregivers are the greatest advocates to help children feel supported and included in their education. Here are ways you can work with your school's administration to bring representation into the classroom. When I was growing up, the world was a pretty different place for LGBTQ+ kids than it is today.
Sex Ed Lecture Series Talk on Sexual Citizenship
With hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts on the rise, it is crucial for parents of all faiths to talk about this prejudice against Jews with their kids. Here are some concrete ways to have this discussion. Like millions of people around the country, I spent January 6 glued to a screen.
Recently, I was Zoom teaching a college class, and I asked my students to share any questions they had about sexuality. One of the young men unmuted himself and asked, "Why do so many girls lie about being raped?" The thing is, very few people actually lie about this crime.
When I was growing up, the Holocaust cast a long shadow over my family. Three of my four grandparents were German Jews who had made their ways to New York in the late 1930s, and by doing so escaped what so many others did not.
On November 15, 2012, I woke up to discover that my partner had died while we slept. He was forty. I was thirty-seven. Our kids were three and six. The cause would later be identified as an undiagnosed heart condition, but in the hours right after his death, I had no idea what had happened.
If you are a teen or young adult who lives at home during COVID-19, and are dating or sexually active with a partner, navigating this part of your life -- with your partner, with parents or guardians -- is complicated. A lot of households and families are having to negotiate what the new dating normal looks like.
The Washington Post
My family was just a handful of days into our new covid-19-fueled self-quarantine when my partner and I got into a fight over a missing phone charger. The issue got resolved shortly, but our petty argument was a reminder that the close quarters now demanded by a global pandemic can exacerbate even the smallest of tensions.
Last summer, my two older kids went to sleepaway camp. The camp is Jewish, but not religious, and it has a social justice mission. Like many Jewish camps in North America, it also sprinkles in Hebrew words here and there. Over the past few years, the camp has worked to foster an environment of LGBTQ inclusivity.
Back in the early and mid-2000s I taught sex education at an after-school program in New York City. One day we invited in some teens who were part of a local LGBTQ youth group to talk about their organization.
Recently, I attended my 12-year-old daughter's instrumental concert. The group sounded lovely, and you could tell how much work the kids had put into their performance. My daughter has been playing viola for five years. She has an ensemble class twice a week in school and takes weekly private lessons.
In 1985, my family's synagogue in Vancouver, B.C., was firebombed and burned to the ground. Public figures, including the mayor, expressed shock that such a brutal act of anti-Semitism could occur in a city that, even 30 years ago, prided itself on multiculturalism.
For continuing coverage of how COVID-19 is affecting reproductive health, check out our Special Report. Though I have three kids, I have spent a lot more time trying to prevent pregnancy than I have trying to become pregnant-and I know I'm not alone in that.
A forced parental involvement law that passed the Florida legislature in February highlights the abortion care roadblocks confronting undocumented teenagers and families. Florida has a parental notification law, but starting in July, minors who wish to obtain an abortion in the state will be required to produce written permission from a parent who is also required to provide government-issued identification.
Over the summer, the Trump administration's new rule regarding Title X, the federal family planning program that is designed to help low-income and other underserved groups obtain contraception, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, and other reproductive health-care services, went into effect.
As a health educator who works with teens and college students, I regularly find myself addressing a range of complicated issues in the classroom. Probably the most difficult, however, is abortion, something that can feel so political and emotional to so many people.
If you feel like anti-abortion bills are being passed by Republican lawmakers at every turn, you wouldn't be wrong. Recently, lawmakers in at least have proposed near-total abortion bans, and four governors have signed such bans into law.
I have been teaching sex ed for nearly 15 years, and keeping pace with an ever-changing world has meant regularly adjusting the topics I cover in class. But this year, I realized a lesson that I had stopped using not too long ago had once again become sadly relevant.
As a health educator who works with teens and college students-and as a mom of three-I was happy to see the results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent study on teen sexual health.
From the outset, sex education has been controversial. Indeed, shortly after the first organized program emerged in Chicago in 1913, it was targeted by the Catholic Church for being immoral. As a result, classes were canceled, and the superintendent of schools-one of the first women ever to hold such a position in a major U.S.
Pregnancy exclusion clauses have been making their way into legislation on states' advance directives since the 1990s. These laws override any advance directive about end-of-life medical care that a person may have in the case that they are determined to be pregnant.
At the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, Florida's Santa Rosa County school district signed a contract with an outside organization whom it had hired to run the district's sex education for the next half decade. This would not have been notable save for one salient fact.
The Salem-Keizer school district in Oregon recently passed a rule requiring that school employees report students to law enforcement or state officials if they learn a teen is sexually active. This rule, teachers were informed, applied even if the student's partner was another teen with whom they were in a consensual relationship.
Earlier this year, voters in Ontario, Canada, elected the right-wing Progressive Conservative Party into power, making controversial populist Doug Ford the province's premier. Ford ran on a platform promising to overturn Ontario's sex education curriculum, which had been implemented in 2015 by the previous Liberal government.
Check out some of my favorites, to the right and below.
News flash: Women have body hair. Armpits, legs, genitals - even faces. And it's become a widely accepted rule that they must remove this hair. Some women choose to do this freely, and some women choose to defy this standard. But the stigma runs even deeper than that.
The first time I formally learned about was in grad school. I was training as a peer sexuality educator, and we did an exercise where we had to decide which activities needed to be discussed with a partner: "Do you need consent to hug someone?" the facilitator asked. "To hold hands?
One day, when I was about twelve, my younger cousin Sasha and I were dancing in our grandmother's living room as my mom and a few other adults chatted in the kitchen a few feet away. At one point, Rod Stewart's old song "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" came on the radio.
by Ellen Friedrichs If you grew up in the United States, it is almost inevitable that you've been subject to a few standard aphorisms. These include things like: "Anyone can make it here if they try hard enough," "Nothing worth having comes easy, " "Hard work pays off, " "Winne rs never quit, and quitters never win," and "Success is no accident."
Recently, I was gossiping with my neighbor about a mutual friend whose wife had moved out, making him the primary parent to their two- and four-year-old children. "He's been pretty amazing," I said. "She even took the car, so he brings the kids to daycare on the bus.
(Single) Parenting After Loss
Growing up, my mother loved to tell stories of her father, a family doctor who had died while she was in high school. I heard about things like his dramatic wartime escapades, his subsequent three-pack-a-day habit, and his practice of exchanging medical services for the art of dubious quality that decorated my childhood home.
I am chatting with a woman I have just met at a barbeque in Brooklyn and over the course of our conversation, I mention that I have recently returned from seeing friends in Los Angeles. She tells that me she will be there later this summer. "That's where I grew up.
It can be hard to know if my children are reacting to their father's death - or if they're just acting their age. A year and a half ago, when our kids were 3 and 6, my partner, Joe, died suddenly.
The walk home from school was long - like four-hours long the way we did it. But it kept us out of an apartment full of grief triggers. Rocco was 3 and Clementine was 6, and now their dad was dead. As in, we never saw it coming, then "oh my god that really happened," dead.
At the end of 2012, my partner died suddenly. He was 40, I was 37, and our two kids were only 3 and 6. His death from a rare heart condition was a devastating shock. But so was the matter of closing out his estate, something I assumed we were decades away from having to address.
A few years ago, I unexpectedly found myself raising two kids on one income. In my case, the situation was the result of my partner's sudden death, so the change was utterly unexpected. The loss was devastating. But even during that difficult time, I knew that I was fortunate, since I had a steady job.
Ten years ago, when I was pregnant with my oldest child, I accepted a job that started just four weeks after my due date. This turned out to be a great decision for my growing family, but I had to make choices in parenting that were colored by the day-to-day demands of my work life.
Until I started having kids, I hadn't given a lot of thought to the complicated situation that is child care in America. In fact, for most of my first pregnancy I had no plan for what I would do once the baby came.
Assorted Articles and Blogs
So what could offer real protection for all students? There are a few things that we know to be effective. One is sex education long before and during college. Another is to tackle the climates that both sustain violence and also deny its existence.
Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, in many households, the strains of closed schools, lost jobs, health issues, and close quarters mean that tensions are high, tempers are short, and privacy has become a luxury. If you're a young queer person who is now isolated with trans- or homophobic family members, you probably know that better than anyone.
December 1st is World AIDS Day. Here at O.school, we're talking about the progress that has been made in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS - and the work that still needs to be done in destigmatizing it, providing healthcare to all, and changing the ways we talk about people who live with HIV.
Last year, I was teaching a college human sexuality class when one of the students referred to someone with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) as "nasty." I asked her what she meant, and she faltered before saying, "I don't know. I guess that's just kind of how they made it seem in my health class."
Talking to your LGBTQ+ kids about sexuality can seem daunting. These 5 tips will help you have these important conversations.
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of the approval of oral contraception in the US, and the Pill's age is starting to show. Problems abound with its delivery, dosage and side effects. Ellen Friedrichs investigates how researchers have conceived of new ways to deliver birth control.
The bone marrow disease called CAMT is extremely rare among the general population. It may have long gone undiagnosed, especially among Ashkenazi Jews.
Numerous articles on some of my favorite themes.
Posts on all manner of teen sexuality and relationships.
My blog on reproductive rights, sex education, voting, teen pregnancy and more for Alternet.
Here are some articles on my early parenting experiences
Here is where I ran the LGBT+ teens site for many years and covered current events, pop culture, health, sexuality and more!
Presentation at the National Sex Ed Conference.
Recommendations for what to say to your middle schooler, what you can stop worrying about, and how you can make this communication as healthy, informative, and comfortable as possible.
Toxic masculinity is a term used in reference to how our culture perpetuates a limited idea of what it means to "be a man." Masculinity is often associated with characteristics like being tough, unemotional, and aggressive, to name a few, but there...
Check out my comments on how to talk to kids about sex.
Here I help Seventeen break down what you really need to know about penises.
In case your sex ed class skipped a lesson on masturbation I help Seventeen make sure you are covered.
Check out my comments for Teen Vogue on herpes, how to tell if you have it, and what you need to know if the answer is you do
Check out my comments on sex ed in this great article.