Hop on over to read a number of opinions on the place and function of sex within sci-fi and fantasy, and then how the same question applies to YA iterations of the same. Not surprisingly, many of the bloggers who say without hesitation, "Sure, if it moves the story forward" to sex in adult SF/F have a harder time with, "Well, what about the teens?"
This is a question I've been chewing on for a little while myself. Having just finished Kristin Cashore's terrific YA fantasy Graceling, which does happen to feature sex, I wondered about whether to pass it on to a teen I know with a very conservative mom. As I put it to a co-worker, "It's not graphic, but it's hard to mistake for making out."
As you no doubt can tell, a large part of my chickenositude was due to the same feelings as one of the bloggers expresses:
I think that parents are the ultimate filter--they should be reading (or at least reviewing) their child's chosen reading material and giving it the ok. Granted, my parents never did that for me, and I grew up unscathed (for the most part), but it's also about being involved…The thing about the sex in Graceling is that it was part of an equal and loving relationship, and the main character thinks hard about whether to get that involved from an emotional standpoint before she does it. There are worse examples for our teens out there. Just as another blogger points out,
I think something adults have trouble grasping is that young adults are a lot more intelligent and grown up that we would like to think. True, they don't know everything, even though they think they do, and they're still growing and maturing, but at the same time they're not stupid.Gah. This is why children's and YA librarianship is not for the faint of heart. Still, maybe this quote sums it up best:
I'm sure that if a teenager wants to read something sexy, I doubt they'll be heading for the fantasy and sci-fi section.Hee.