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Teaching sex education at a Miami high school gave Michael J. Basso a pretty good idea of what teenagers want--and need--to know about sex. So he wrote a book on the subject.

Three years in the making, The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality hit the bookstores nationwide this month.

Mr. Basso said the 330-page book includes the questions students have most often asked him about sex during his seven years of teaching at Miami Jackson High School. Questions like: What is love? Is it OK to have sex? The book also contains illustrations by one of his former students.

The idea of writing a book came to Mr. Basso during his second year of teaching, when he noticed there was little in the way of written materials on sexuality aimed specifically at adolescents.

"The kids were needy, to say the least," he said.

Mr. Basso, who also teaches health, nutrition, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, discusses in his book many of the same topics he covers in his 10-week units on sex education: safe sex, love, infatuation, relationships, and peer pressure.

He said, however, that he doesn't plan to use his book as a textbook in his courses.

"The book was a natural way for me to give to my students on a larger scale," he said.

Mr. Basso, who considered working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta before going into teaching, was recently voted teacher of the year at his school. He said the book has brought him a lot of attention. Students often stop by to ask him where they can get a copy, he said.

And his publisher, Northwest Publishing Inc., based in Salt Lake City, is pressing him to do publicity events such as book signings and talk shows.

But Mr. Basso said he's not sure whether he is ready for that yet. "I really did it for the students, and so I'm not interested in the promotional aspect ... yet."

For the time being, he said he is pleased that he seems to have accomplished his goal: "As I hoped, the students love the book."

--Adrienne D. Coles

Vol. 15, Issue 22

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