By Sami Temsah, 17, Verdugo Hills High School
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Sami Temsah doesn't see why virginity is such a taboo topic.

After I volunteered to write about how cool it is to be a virgin, I thought, "Oh my God! What have I gotten myself into?" It’s not that I am ashamed to be a virgin, but I usually don’t go around telling everyone that I am one.

But then I started to research teens and virginity, and the hardcore information I found blew me away. So I realized that the message needs to get out there. Plus, having a teenager write about abstinence is much better than hearing about it from than some old, farty doctor who knows nothing about us 21st century teens.

So here I go.

Peer pressure has a huge effect on the decision to have sex. In fact, some teens feel that they have to lose their virginity to keep up with their friends or to be accepted, according to, a Web site of the Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit children’s health organization.

This is so true! I found that out in an embarrassing way, when I decided to interview some people at my school about virginity. I told my third-period class about the article and asked if I could interview them.

No one wanted to talk about it

The minute I said "virginity" the room went dead silent. A few moments later they all burst into laughter. No one volunteered to talk about it.
I went around the room and begged my friends to give me at least one comment. But everyone I talked to was uncomfortable and embarrassed. It was kept all hush-hush.

It wasn’t until after class was over and no one else was around that some people actually approached me and wanted to talk about virginity. But before I wrote stuff down, the people made me promise that they could remain anonymous.

Once we started talking, it seemed they all had the same opinion. All of them agreed that they were going to wait to get married or until they were truly in love before they had sex. They are proud that they are still virgins.

It’s better to stand your ground, than to become a statistic. I found some facts that I thought were very disturbing. Nearly one million teens get pregnant every year, according to the Washington D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Wow! And I thought I had problems keeping my GPA up! It’s unimaginable to think about having a baby, or to know that I could die from AIDS.

Some teens at my school have become pregnant. They waddle through the halls with their protruding bellies. It’s alarming, because some are just 14. They have their whole lives ahead of them. Seeing them reminds me of my older sister. She’s in her late 20s, married and pregnant with her first baby. She’s completely prepared to bring this baby into the world. That’s how I want to be—fully educated and married before I even think of having kids. My sister reinforces my decision to wait till I get married.

While there’s peer pressure out there encouraging teens to have sex, there’s also some social pressure to make teens wait for marriage. Teens can take virginity pledges through an abstinence program sponsored by the Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention at It started in the 90s and was called "True Love Waits." About 2.5 million teens took the pledge.

Did the pledge work? Sort of. Nearly one-half of the pledgers remained virgins until age 20, according to a study by sociologists Peter Bearman of Columbia University and Hannah Brueckner of Yale University.

Virginity pledges were most effective on those who took the oath at 16 and 17 and on teens closely tied into religion or school. It had little effect on people 18 and older, the study found.

I didn’t even know about this pledge until I started researching. I think it’s sad that one-half took the pledge and didn’t stick with it. Maybe they felt peer pressure to take the pledge—the same way people feel pressured to have sex. Get some backbone, people!

Another virginity pledge called Seize the Net was launched by this Valentine’s Day and 31,338 teens signed up in just 47 hours. While research shows that many of those teens won’t necessarily wait to have sex until marriage, at least they’re waiting till they’re older and in better places to make such life-altering decisions.

From what I’ve seen, you can’t rely on other people to decide when the time is right for you. We all have to listen to ourselves and protect not only our bodies, but also our minds.

Yeah, I guess it is cool to be a virgin. It’s great not to worry about catching diseases, being dumped and getting pregnant. I’ve made my decision and I am going to wait until I am married to have sex. Whether you are open about your virginity or you won’t admit it, just remember you are not alone.