Ellen Friedrichs

Health & Sexuality Educator & Writer *she/her

United States

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]


Recent Work

For years we chanted, we won't go back. And yet, here we are.

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.

How do we take care of our girls as they move through the world?

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.

Schools Are Banning Sex Ed Lessons and It's Harming Our Children

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.

Addressing the Future of Abortion With Students

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.

Should We Be Talking to Kids About What It Means To Have Good Sex?

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.

3 Ways to Make Your Child's School More LGBTQ+ Friendly

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.

How to Talk to Kids About Anti-Semitism and Why It's Important

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.

In The Fray
Distance from Home

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.

Dating During the Pandemic: Tips for Young People Who Are Living at Home

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

The Lily from The Washington Post
Coronavirus is making people stay home. What happens when that isn't a safe place to be?

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.

Rewire News

Why Florida's Forced Parental Consent Law Will Hit Immigrant Families Hardest

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.

How to Talk to Young People About Abortion - Rewire.News

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.

Five Ways Adults Can Help Support LGBTQ Youth - Rewire.News

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.

Most Parents Want Comprehensive Sex Ed, But Protests Are Getting Louder

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.

Fake Clinics Are Teaching Sex 'Education'

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 Sex Reporting Controversy Is a Teaching Moment

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.

Everyday Feminism

All my articles as a contributing writer for the site
Everyday Feminism

Check out some of my favorites, to the right and below.

Everyday Feminism
4 Reasons Why We Should Stop Stigmatizing Women's Body Hair

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.

Everyday Feminism
Your 5 Most Common Questions About Alcohol and Consent - Answered

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?

Everyday Feminism
4 Ways Parents Can Battle How Society Hypersexualizes Their Children

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.

Everyday Feminism
4 Ways We Teach Boys It's Normal to Pressure Girls Sexually

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."

(Single) Parenting After Loss

Here's How I Explain Our Blended Family To My Toddler.

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.

Modern Loss
I Forgot the Anniversary of My Mom's Death

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.

Modern Loss
Parenting After Loss

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.

Modern Loss
Exercise in Avoidance

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.

5 Must Dos to Put on Your Estate-Planning Checklist

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.

How to Stay Solvent in a One-Income Household

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.

The Case Against Modern Parenting

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.

How to Spend Less on Child Care | DailyWorth

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

This Isn't Going to Be Your Forever: Pandemic Tips for Queer Youth

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.

Scare Tactics Don't Prevent STIs. Here's What Will

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."

Nature Medicine
On the Pill

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.

SexEdvice Blog

Posts on all manner of teen sexuality and relationships.

Speakeasy Blog

My blog on reproductive rights, sex education, voting, teen pregnancy and more for Alternet.

LGBT+ Teens

Here is where I ran the LGBT+ teens site for many years and covered current events, pop culture, health, sexuality and more!

Recent Presentations

Everything Your Kids Want To Know About Sex…. And How To Tell Them
Park Slope Parents

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.

Media Commentary

The American Prospect
Safe Words

Check out my comments on sex ed in this great article.