31 May (CNSNEWS) – A government website designed for girls ages 10 to 16 offers health advice and information on a wide range of topics, including homosexuality, anal sex and “mutual masturbation.” The Health and Human Services’ girlshealth.gov includes tips on fitness and nutrition and an “environmental health” section where girls can read about leading a “green” lifestyle. But the site also includes a glossary that explains anal sex and “mutual masturbation” and includes information about birth control and how to access everything from condoms to “emergency contraceptives.”
The website is described this way on the “About” portion: “Girlshealth.gov was created in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) to help girls (ages 10 to 16) learn about health, growing up, and issues they may face. Girlshealth.gov promotes healthy and positive behaviors in girls, giving them reliable and useful health information in a fun, easy-to-understand way.”
“The website also provides information to parents and educators to help them teach girls about healthy living,” the site states. “Our tagline is ‘Be Happy. Be Healthy. Be You. Beautiful. It focuses on the idea that being yourself — finding what makes you smile and how to live well — is what makes you ‘you.’ And that is beautiful!” The mission statement also notes that the website is for girls ages 10 to 16.
If girls click on the “Body” tab on the home page, then the “Your Sexuality” tab, then “Dealing with Dating and Sexual Feelings” link, they will find the “Could I be Gay?” link. “If you’re having feelings of romantic or physical attraction to other girls, you may wonder about your sexual orientation,” the site states. “It’s natural as you develop to wonder about these feelings, and it may take time to figure out your sexual orientation.” “Also, having a gay or lesbian parent or sibling doesn’t mean you are gay,” says the website.
It shares a link to “The Trevor Project,” a crisis intervention site for LGBTQ youth and then offers advice for girls who decide to have sex with another female.”
“If you are going to have sex with another girl, keep in mind that women who have sex with women are at risk for many of the same STIs (Sexually transmitted infections) as women who have sex with men,” the site says. “Also, if you are a lesbian, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about protecting your overall health.” “Lesbians are more likely to have certain health problems, like obesity, smoking, and depression, so make sure you learn how to stay healthy and strong,” reads the website.
The “Body” tab leads to the “Your Sexuality” link, which leads to a “Birth Control Options” link and then a “What Doesn’t Work to Prevent Pregnancy” Q and A. A graphic description of sex is in one of the dialog bubbles.
“My boyfriend says he’ll just pull his penis out before anything happens” the bubble says.
If a girl clicks on the bubble this message pops up: “The Truth: It takes a lot of self-control for a guy to pull out,” the message says. “Also, some sperm can come out before a man ejaculates (“comes”).”
HONORING TWO MOMS
Two moms and a step mom to a young girl are discussed in the “Spotlight” portion of the website where girls are interviewed in a Q and A format. Maya Talwar-Herbert is a sixth grader whose is described as “beautifully different” in her 2009 profile.
“Maya is different and she’s proud of it! Her positive outlook on life, love of writing, and adventurous spirit led her to be featured in New Moon magazine’s ‘25 Beautiful Girls’ issue,” the profile states. “One of the things that makes her different is that she lives in two different houses, to allow time with two moms and a stepmom. “She also donated her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths — a campaign to donate hair to create wigs for women with cancer,” the profile states. “Read about Maya to learn about the beauty in being different.”
The website does devote a section to abstinence, and stories about adoption are also on the site, some about two girls featured in the MTV program “Teen Mom.” The “About” section of the website also lists some of the honors the website has received, including being in the Top 10 government websites in 2010 by “Federal Computer Week.”
In 2009, NBC.com in Chicago praised the website: “The information is more straightforward, maybe less racy, on girlshealth.gov, a site run by the Department of Health and Human Services.” In 2010, Zimbio magazine said: “If you have a tween, you must check out girlshealth.gov.”
Requests from CNSNews.com to the HHS on how the website is funded and who is responsible for its content were not answered. CNSNews.com is not funded by the government like NPR. CNSNews.com is not funded by the government like PBS.