Dear Amy:

I am a 15-year-old girl, and I'm confused. I do not know whether I am bisexual, lesbian or straight. I have an even amount of male and female friends. Some of them are gay. I check out guys and girls.

My best friend is a guy. When he talks about girls, I find I talk about them the same way he does.

I just found out that my cousin is bisexual, and she and I are just alike.

I used to freak out around people who are gay, but now I am okay.

Being gay is against my family's religion, so my parents would be furious.

Please help me figure out if I am just going through emotions or if I am bisexual or lesbian.

Confused Orientation

If you can't tell what your sexual orientation is, then I certainly can't.

But I can tell you about being 15. Being 15 is all about trying to figure out who and what you are. Lately, questions of sexual identity are raised as a choice, much like whether you want to be "goth" or "geek" or whatever.

I maintain that your sexual orientation isn't a choice. When the time is right, your body will tell you what you need to know.

I think it's safe to assume that some of your questions are due to the familiar thrashings of teenhood, and though it's no fun, it's all part of the journey to maturity.

If your confusion about this makes you lose concentration at school, sleep at night or strains your friendships, then you should seek out a trusted adult to talk to about this.

Dear Amy:

I'm responding to a recent letter from a woman whose 16-year-old daughter seemed determined to have sex.

One of my friends became aware of her 16-year-old daughter's attempt to obtain birth control. She handled it in the most amazing way.

She took her daughter to a gynecologist and explained to her that for her own health she must be diligent about checkups. She said that adult decisions involve more than privileges.

She would need an after-school job to pay for her contraceptives, a car to take her to that job, insurance to protect the car, and should those contraceptives fail, night school and a GED would be necessary, provided the new mother could afford baby-sitting.

This approach could have backfired, but after a look at STDs, pregnancy and a budget-planning session, the teen decided to wait.

Gammy

I love this approach. True sex education should include information on all of the adult decisions and responsibilities that come with the decision to have sex.

Dear Amy:

Shortly after returning from my twins' 10th birthday party, I read the letter from "Old-Fashioned Dad" about competitive birthday gifts for kids.

Another aspect of these parties that bothers me is the expectation of the young guests that they will receive a gift (goody bag) for attending.

My wife had a great idea for their party this year. Instead of goody bags, we made a donation to UNICEF and gave each of the kids a certificate acknowledging their part in the donation (they also got a candy bar).

We explained to the kids that UNICEF helps children throughout the world.

Believe it or not, the announcement was greeted with applause and several of these 9- and 10-year-olds thanked us and said it was a great idea.

Gillian and Greg's Dad

Your wife sounds like a smart cookie. This is a great idea.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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