Answer’s teen-written sexual health magazine and website, Sex, Etc., has featured the writing of nearly 300 teen writers in the last 20 years. We are proud to provide a platform for young people to educate their peers and talk about sexuality and the sexual health issues that are important to them. In celebration of 20 years of exceptional sexuality education, Answer has been reaching out to former teen staff writers who have gone on to do great work in sexual and reproductive health. This month we’re catching up with Cassie Wolfe.
Cassie Wolfe, LCSW, M.Ed., Teen Board Member, 2000-2001
Cassie clearly remembers hearing about Sex, Etc. in the summer of 2000. She was at a conference participating in a breakout session led by Sex, Etc.’s editor on the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. “As soon as she was finished speaking, I ran up and grabbed an application; I was determined to be part of their movement!” Cassie explains.
Today Cassie is still a part of that movement; she is a Ph.D. candidate in human sexuality, a clinical social worker and a sex therapist, who continues to advocate for comprehensive sexuality education.
Lucinda Holt: How has Sex, Etc. shaped the work you do today?
Cassie Wolfe: Sex, Etc. validated my right to receive non-judgmental and medically accurate information about my sexual health, which has empowered me to empower others. It reinforced my desire to reciprocate the encouragement, inspiration and support that I received to others who are also curious about sex. What experience has taught me is that it is not just young people who want and need non-judgmental and medically accurate information about sex; it’s ALL people! Sex, Etc. was instrumental in sparking my desire to continue the conversation about sexuality and relationships, and I get the amazing opportunity to do that as both a therapist and educator.
Sex, Etc. has inspired me to continue educating ALL people about their sexual health with compassion, understanding and empathy, regardless of their age or educational background. Sex, Etc. taught me that sexuality is more than “just sex” and that it spans way beyond disease and dysfunction. The need for information has significantly shaped my practice in working with both professionals who deliver mental health and medical services and the people who are seeking them.
Since graduating from Rutgers with a degree in women’s and gender studies, I went on to receive dual masters’ degrees in social work and human sexuality and am hoping to wrap up my Ph.D. in human sexuality in the fall or early spring of next year. For the past three years I have been working as a social worker at the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment—an inpatient psychiatric facility. I do a combination of case management, therapy, provide case consults for adult individuals who present with sexuality related concerns and facilitate sex education groups on our two adolescent units. I have also guest lectured to adolescent psychiatry fellows on adolescent sexuality and risk factors in working with LGBTQ youth. In September, I will be presenting in Boston on the healthcare needs of transgender patients to OB/GYN residents and medical students.
LH: What’s the most pressing sexual health issue teens face today?
CW: The most pressing, overarching sexual health issue teens face is the systemic shaming and denial of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors involving sexuality. Societally, we still have a hard time accepting that sexuality is a normal and healthy part of our development, specifically for young people. This then translates to policies promoting the withholding of critical information young people need to make informed decisions about their sexual health needs.
LH: What did you enjoy most about writing for Sex, Etc.?
CW: I enjoyed brainstorming about article topics with my peers and staff who were bright, energetic, and enthusiastic people! Our meetings never felt like work and our discussions were always sex-positive, supportive and meaningful. I also enjoyed having my articles read and discussed in health class!
LH: Name one thing that makes you really angry?
CW: One thing that makes me angry is the assumption that teens cannot make informed decisions for themselves, yet are given the mixed message about also needing to be “more mature.” One thing that makes me extremely happy is receiving the support from the “higher ups” about running sex ed groups for teens in a setting that is traditionally pretty conservative.
LH: What word would you remove from the dictionary?
LH: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would that be?
CW: William Masters and Virginia Johnson!