Blame Bristol Palin.

Well, not really. But sort of.

Every year, the Mercury's award-winning* Back to School Issue goes out to our newest readers: Those who have come from strange, faraway lands such as "Gresham" and "McMinnville" in order to attend our city's fine colleges and universities, and also those who, on their first day of high school, discover crumpled copies of this revered periodical lining countless wastepaper receptacles throughout their new school. To those new readers, we extend our hearty greetings, and hope that the Mercury's scholarly, informative Back to School Issue will, as it has in the past, provide your eager, open young minds with excellent advice on where to get drunk when you decide to cut class.

But this year, we also wanted to do something different. And that's where Bristol comes in.

The Mercury's hard-hittin' research discovered that in 2007, a whopping 45 percent of Portland's high school juniors and 26 percent of our eighth graders have already had sex at least once. This means two things: First, some props are in order! I wasn't able to trick a girl into having sex with me until college, so if you eighth graders are already getting some, I'm impressed by your moxie! But also: Whether backward conservatives like Sarah Palin like it or not, kids everywhere are porking with alarming (or adorable) regularity. Take Palin's very own 17-year-old, for example, or Jamie Lynn Spears, or your little sister. (Say hi to her for me, would you?) Teen sex, once shamefully relegated to the back of Buicks, is now prominently on national stages, both political and pop.

So where can Portland's eagerly fornicating high schoolers and undergrads turn for advice on these important sexual matters? (Well, aside from creepy internet porn?) Look no further than this very special episode of our Back to School Issue. The Mercury's Back to School Issue: Teen Sex Edition! is packed with helpful info about all facets of the ol' in-and-out, plus an indispensable directory of Portland's best places to go, pre- and post-studying and/or boning. True, you might be coming to Portland for school—but we hope you'll stay for the sweet, sweet lovemaking.