Category > Sex Education
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Nov 28, 2013
Recently, Chicago public schools announced that they would indeed be incorporating sex education into their kindergarten curriculum. For 30 minutes every month, kindergarteners in the CPS system will be taught a variety of topics around sex education like the medically appropriate name for body parts, the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching and lessons on bullying. Interestingly, this time will also be used to teach students about different family structures which includes teaching kids about gay couples. Parents are allowed to view all material being used for these lessons and they can sign their kids out of this particular curriculum if they would like.
I find this to be some of the best news coming out of sex education in this country in a long time. Every news story seems to be about the fact that one state or another is trying to strip sex education of all teeth by implementing abstinence only programs that have been statistically proven, through research, to be much less effective than their comprehensive counterparts. The fact that any place in the country is making such a positive step forward is incredibly promising. The main criticism of this curriculum that I can see is uninformed individuals worried about the appropriateness of the topic in regards to children. Ignorance can be the only thing that fuels this opinion as I personally witness children being negatively affected by sexual experiences forced upon them almost daily. I work at an agency that provides advocacy for sexual assault victims, and there are few things more frustrating than sitting in a hospital room with a child who is not even fully aware of what has happened to them, but being deeply psychologically affected as they attempt to describe what happened. Often, the only words at their disposal are silly euphemisms that their parents have taught them such as “pocketbook” and others that can make it impossible to figure out the situation; giving children power and agency over something as personal as their bodies can only result in positive effects.
Nov 25, 2013
(original image by The Stigma Project)
We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.
Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.
The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”
The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.
I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is! I’ve also added information about this organization!
Nov 24, 2013
My experience with sex education in Columbia, South Carolina by Salome Seraphin, a SC Youth Activist for the South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign.
Nov 24, 2013
My experience with sex education in South Carolina by Shelby, a SC Youth Activist for the South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign.
Nov 9, 2013
I’m one of the lucky ones.
In a nation where 1 in 6 women are raped (a number that’s even higher for Black women), I’ve never been raped. In a country where STI infection rates in young adults continue to rise, I’ve never been infected. In a nation where teen suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24, and for LGBTQ+ people are 8.4x more likely to attempt suicide, I’m still here. In a state where Abstinence-Only Sex Education is the norm, I went to a school that taught Comprehensive Sex Ed.
I was lucky enough to have supportive, loving and open parents. I was lucky enough to have access to websites like scarletteen.com, gurl.com and a million blogs dedicated to teaching teens that sex wasn’t scary or dangerous, but a natural part of life. I had feminist friends and adults who paid attention to me and cared about what I did. Even so, my life hasn’t been perfect. I had missteps: six years in an unhealthy relationship, sex with people I didn’t like. I made some bad choices. But I was able to bounce back. I was given the space to recover.
Everyone doesn’t have the privileges I’ve had. Some people don’t have parents at home to teach them how to put a condom on a phallus, or what birth control actually does. Some people go to school where “sex ed” is a series of misinformed scare tactics that leave them uninformed and unprepared for the interpersonal relationships they’ll inevitably face. Some people have been raped or sexually assaulted, but have never been given the words to articulate what happened to them, or why it was wrong.
None of these things happened to me, because I was lucky.
I shouldn’t be considered lucky, though. My experiences of education, openness and safety should be the norm, not the exception. The first way to make that happen is by embracing formal, positive, medically accurate and age-appropriate Comprehensive Sex Ed. It should be open and honest about sexual orientation, anatomy and healthy interpersonal relationships. It should magnifies how important and critical consent is in all interactions. It should do these things and more.
I was one of the lucky ones. I shouldn’t be. My experiences with sex ed should be normal.
Nov 6, 2013
This week, the makers of Trojan condoms released their 8th annual Sexual Health Report Card, ranking the best and worst college and universities in the country with sexual health resources and information.
What are you doing to help your school ranking around sexual health? Upload a photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and show us how you distribute condoms. Make sure to use the hashtag #GACC
Through the Great American Condom Campaign, we know there are hundreds of campuses working towards improving condom access & information on sexual health. Yet, we know may campuses still have bad policies and regulations in place that limit the access of young people. Is your school one of those?
From November 7th-14th, raise your voice and tweet to your school (or via Facebook), and asked them to support policies that improve young people’s health & lives.
@BostonCollege What are you doing to improve #condom access on campus? http://prn.to/1hNQx7X #GACC
@ChicagoState Why are we last on this list? Let’s improve #condom access #GACC http://prn.to/1hNQx7X
By using the hashtag #GACC and tweeting to your school (or via Facebook), you can start a conversation on your campus about the policies needed to support young people on campus.
Let’s ensure that young people have the tools needed to lead healthy sexual lives.
Nov 1, 2013
I am happy to be part of the pool of facilitators who facilitated the very first National Adolescent Health Camp that was held at the Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark, Pampanga from October 22-25, 2013 and attended by 300 young adolescents from across the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. I am also honored to have worked with my fellow Y-PEER siblings in this project by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Youth Commission (NYC) and to mentor out-of-school youth delegates from Eastern Visayas who were awesome during the entire duration of the camp. It made me confident that more adolescents are becoming aware of the importance of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Adolescence is the period in life when an individual is no longer a child but not an adult as well. They are the person in transitional stage in life, living in critical time of rapid physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social and spiritual development. A time of transition that varies across individuals and groups, countries and cultures.
Globally, 1/5 or 1.2 billion of the world population are adolescents. However, 2/3 of the premature deaths and 1/3 of the disease burden in adults are associated with conditions or behavior that begins in youth. In the Philippines, adolescents comprise about 21.5 percent or almost 20 million of the 92 million Filipinos counted in the 2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) as cited by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). They contribute significantly to the labor force of the country. Considering that they constitute the most active group, they are the most vulnerable to communicable and non-communicable diseases owing to their risky behaviors. Furthermore, rate of teenage pregnancies have risen.
It is under this pretext that the Family Health Office of DOH in collaboration with the Department of Education (Dep-Ed), NYC, and Y-PEER Pilipinas conducted a basic training on adolescent peer education. As part of the learning process, an enhancement program was given to potential young leaders. Among the objectives of this camp are: a) Identify issues, gaps, and challenges on adolescent health and development at the local level; b) establish a pool of youth leaders on Adolescent Health and Development to address issues identified; c) develop standards of peer education on Adolescent Health and Development that will aid in developing the national framework on peer education; and d) develop one year local adolescent peer education plans to be implemented in their community/school.
At the start of our registration process, the participants were given name tags with number written at the back for an activity that was held later that afternoon. During the opening ceremonies which featured an ensemble of various traditional costumes from across the islands of the Philippines, the highlight of the said ceremony was the speech of Dr. Stephanie Sison from the Department of Health (DOH) in which she stressed the importance of the health camp to our young people and their importance to our country. They learned that engaging in risk behaviors such as early sexual encounter that may lead to unplanned pregnancy has a great impact on our lives especially on child and maternal health, education, and economic standing.
After the ceremony, participants were grouped according to the numbers behind our name tags for our first series of activities which was one of the facilitations I did in the duration of the camp. They had their getting to know in the form of a speed dating activity in which they met for the first time with their fellow participants from other regions. It provided them an opportunity to mingle in order that we can be friends and likewise for me to meet them. It also provided an opportunity to correct their stereotypes with other region like those from conflict areas in Mindanao. The second activity was body mapping in which I instructed them to draw a human body and wrote in the parts of the body their goals, achievements, positive/negative attitudes, their loved ones, and what others say about them among others. It’s a time where they get to know themselves better as they prepared themselves for the next days of activities. In our last activity which is called Agree or Disagree, young adolescents were able to know each other’s views and values on pressing issues among young people like acceptance of LGBT and people living with HIV, teen pregnancy, access to family planning services, and abortion among others. Yes, it gave them an opportunity to debate and argues on these issues but what prevailed at the end of the day is their mutual respect for each other’s views.
The next day during the plenary, Dr. Minerva “Mimi” Vinluan discussed the legal frameworks that serve as basis for DOH and other government agencies’ programs and projects on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). It gave us a solid foundation on where we stand as Peer Educators because there is a legal basis for everything that is being conducted in the training. Moreover, since most of them are not acquainted with these legal frameworks, it provided us an opportunity to be educated about these laws which they can invoke and apply in real life situations.
After the plenary, they enrolled into four different topics of discussion for the day: Understanding Adolescent and Puberty; Sex and Gender and Sexuality; Teenage Pregnancy; and HIV, AIDS, and STI. Their enrollment to these topics served as basis for their groupings in the sessions that followed. During our workshop, we let them compute the expenses that they will incur when they impregnated or got pregnant at a very young age with no financial security. They were shocked with the amount that they have computed – a staggering P180, 000 pesos more or less is the money that they have to pay for all expenses related to pregnancy (pre-natal check-ups, medicines, hospital bills, immunization, canned milk, baby diapers, newborn screening and other procedures. They have realized that it is not a big joke to get someone or become pregnant and they conclude that they have to be careful and be responsible with their actions related to practicing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In the afternoon, four different topics for workshops were simultaneously held: Relationships; Gender Based Violence and Power Analysis; Youth Sexuality and Family Planning; and ASRH in Humanitarian Setting. Also, the Adult Session for our partners from DOH, Department of Education (Dep-Ed), National Youth Commission (NYC), and other government and non-government organizations was held in a separate venue within the Fontana Convention Center.
During the Thursday plenary, Maria May-i Fabros of Task Force Batang Ina provided an insightful discussion on Elements of RH, the 13 Sexual Rights, and Human Rights Lens that enshrined in various international treaties that the Philippines have signed and ratified. We appreciated the kind of approach that she had on these topics because she delivered it in a manner that is not too academic like classroom lectures, rather, she delivered it in an informal manner that we understood since she anchored it on her own personal experiences and journey as an advocate and as someone doing development work. After the plenary, we break into groups and we facilitators discussed Peer Education 101 that included: Roles and Responsibility of Peer Educator, Peer Education on ASRH, Peer Education Activities, and workshop on session planning in Preparation for our Practicum the next day. In the afternoon, the NYC conducted Peer Education 201 that stresses on leadership and accountability as Peer Educators after which, we break into regions for the young adolescents’ regional planning.
In the Practicum, the existing groupings were further subdivided into four smaller groups with each assigned topics to deliver. We were given 45 minutes at most to deliver a Peer Education session following the standards given to us by our facilitators. The first two groups conducted their sessions simultaneously while the remaining two groups served as the participants respectively of the first two. During their presentation, we observed on how they conducted their sessions such as facilitation and co-facilitation skills, quality of information presented, icebreakers conducted, and our management with our participants. After they presented our sessions, we were able to give them feedbacks and points to improve on their workshop sessions the next time they conduct one.
Overall, all of us enjoyed the experience while at the same time they learn from us facilitators and resource speakers as much as we facilitators learned from our young participants. We have formed lasting friendships among our fellow facilitators and delegates from Region VIII and the delegates from other regions as well. The dinners and regional sharing that we had every night has been memorable. As newly trained Peer Educators, much is expected from them. They may be still learning the ropes but I am very much confident that they can train new Peer Educators in Region VIII and I am here as their Kuya – Big Brother to help them.
Nov 1, 2013
Last weekend I decided to put together an event that promoted safe sex. Given the fact that it was the weekend before Halloween it was a great opportunity to dress up and have some fun. I planned a bar crawl where I would travel to different bars and hand out condom necklaces and comprehensive sex information. My sister and I dressed up in our tutus as “Condom Fairies” handed out over 700 condoms on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. If was loads of fun and we met tons of new people. The most rewarding aspect was when individuals would commend us on our efforts to promoted safe sex. A lot of people we met thought what we were doing and encouraged us to keep it up.
Oct 31, 2013
Oct 30, 2013
Seeing Capitol Hill for the first time is something I will never forget.
Just a little over a month ago, I was walking the hallways of the Cannon House building, on my way to my first meeting of the day. Lobby day on The Hill, another amazing opportunity granted to me by Advocates for Youth. I’d lobbied before, but I’d only ever lobbied my state senators and assembly-people. Needless to say, I was nervous. The day before at the training, I was feeling overly confident until I saw that we would also have meetings with some people I thought would be less in favor of the bill I was so desperately lobbying for- the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a comprehensive sex education bill.
When I saw our first meeting slot, though, I felt comforted. Representative Dina Titus is a household name in my family, and she is someone I have known of very fondly. My mentor, and close friend, Annette Magnus had worked in Rep. Titus’s office in the past, and she has always spoken very highly of her. It also helped lessen the tension when I saw that Rep. Titus has a 100% approval rating of Planned Parenthood, something I expected, as she is quite the progressive, liberal woman!
Upon arrival to her office, I saw a big Nevada State doormat, the only doormat I saw in the entirety of Capitol Hill. A little piece of home was smack in the middle of a Capitol Building’s hallway, and trust me, it is hard to miss. I soon met Katie Cassling, the staffer that was meeting with me for Rep. Titus. I sat down along with Katie, another fellow ‘lobbier,’ and Julia Reticker-Flynn, a wonderful Advocates staff member. Ms. Cassling was wonderful from the get-go. I had gone over and over what I planned to say the night before, and I had already said a lot of it before since I had recently lobbied for comprehensive sex-education on the state level.
Ms. Cassling listened very thoughtfully when I told her of the sex-education I had received (and all that I had not.) I spoke from the heart and from a very personal level when I told her of my struggles entering an abstinence-only-until-marriage sex-education class as a rape and sexual assault survivor. I continued to tell her of the battle we had fought very valiantly for comprehensive sex-education in our home state and sadly lost. I think one of my most proud moments of the meeting was when I was able to hand over a stack of petitions in support that I had personally collected. I flipped through the pages with her, and she seemed very impressed. It was overall a pleasant experience, and she gave me constant affirmation that Rep. Titus supported such things. She ended the meeting with the remark that it was highly unlikely for Rep. Titus to say no to the bill! This lifted my confidence, and I was floating on air for the rest of the day.
Lobbying is an adventure for me, and it is a constant challenge on making that connection with the person you are speaking with. You only have a certain amount of time to communicate your message. I am always up for a challenge.
Overall, the meeting with Rep. Titus’s office was an experience I will not soon forget. It was a pleasant, safe environment, and I am incredibly happy to hear that Rep. Dina Titus co-sponsored the bill! Representative Dina Titus took into account what her constituents wanted, and it is a wonderful thing to feel heard. She is the first one to sign on to the bill from Nevada, and it feels amazing to have had a hand in that.
Oct 28, 2013
As the US’s sex education programs become more comprehensive and inclusive, there is little discussion of how to linguistically include students whose first language is not English. I was disappointed by the lack of information on how to create schools that foster supportive learning environment and provide comprehensive sex education materials for English Language Learner (ELL) students.
Legally, schools must provide sex education programs for all students. Section 1703(f) of the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974 requires “state agencies and school districts to take action to overcome language barriers that impede ELL students from participating equally in school districts’ educational programs”.  We know the experiences of student’s vary drastically depending on their state, school district, school, and teacher.
To begin, programs must be able to convey not only scientific, but colloquial terms to students. The threshold in which students are immersed into solely English speaking classrooms creates challenge. I believe ELL students should be included as soon as possible, but how do we ensure that ELL students who are not fluent do not miss concepts while partaking in English classrooms? Despite their language ability, all students deserve access to information, not just basic concepts.
If ELL students cannot yet be immersed in English-only classes, they should be taught curriculum on par with the English ones. The resources that design English sex education programs must be invested in ensuring other programs are comparable. Similarly, resources such as guides, contraceptives, and videos must be available in the accessible language of the student.
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 21, 2013
October is “Let’s Talk Month.” For those of you who do not know Let’s Talk Month happens every year and is a month long event which seeks to create a healthy environment where youth and adults can have open and honest conversations about sexuality.
Oct 16, 2013
by Eddie Chao, Fiona Tang, Sidhartha Taruc, and Trang Vo of Forward Together Youth
Remember when we brought you 20 Condoms, that catchy safer sex jam that got you singing along to the tune of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop? Well, we’ve done it again! We’re gearing up to release our 2nd video THIS FRIDAY and want YOU to help us lead a conversation about safer sex by and for young people.
Social media is a way youth can spread information through a medium they’re experts in, which is why we are hosting, along with Advocates for Youth, a #SexEdSaga Twitter Party THIS FRIDAY, 10/18 @ 11am PST!
Our #SexEdSaga Twitter Party is an opportunity for young people to explore and use Twitter in order to bring visibility to youth-of-color led efforts around the need for comprehensive sex education that is relevant to ALL young people.
Youth in this generation have been using social media inside and out to spread their messages across the web. These tools, especially twitter, are essential to start as well as sustain a youth-led campaign. Our #SexEdSaga Twitter Party is the perfect opportunity for all young people to harness this 21st century skill and apply it to our organizing work.
Participating in this Twitter Party means helping us bring visibility to our campaign and gaining supporters who will see that we are youth being active in what we are passionate about. We want youth voices to be heard, and taken seriously, and we want to have fun while making it a reality.
The twitter party is open to anyone and is a way for others to help us lead the conversation! We’ll be talking about how to have “The Talk”, youth created media, and strategies for STI / HIV prevention from a youth perspective.
previously posted by Strong Families.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Oct 7, 2013
Sex education may be taught informally, such as when someone receives information from a conversation with a parent friend’s religious leader, or through the media. It may also be delivered through sex self-help authors, magazine advice columnists, sex columnists, or sex education web sites. Formal sex education occurs when schools or health care providers offer sex education. Slyer stated that sex education teaches the young person what he or she should know for his or her personal conduct and relationship with others. Gruenberg also stated that sex education is necessary to prepare the young for the task ahead. According to him, officials generally agree that some kind of planned sex education is necessary. And also sex education is important most especially on female child for her to know the right time of making sex and to know the effect of making sex at the wrong time. And am also advising the parent should always talk to their children so that they will know more about sex education.
Sep 30, 2013
“Not your Mother’s Meatloaf: A Sex Education Comic Book (Soft Skull Press) explores topics from cross-dressing to kinks to consent, and offers the experiences of an impressively varied group of comic artists such as queer-identified folks, people of color, and comics by teens themselves” 
Check out the series at: http://notyourmothersmeatloafbook.com
Sep 13, 2013
Talking about active consent as something you do in your daily life and about how to end rape culture and build a culture of consent in its place.
Sep 9, 2013
That it includes how virginity is only a social construct; whether or not you choose to become sexually active does not define you
Sep 5, 2013
ATTENTION!!! Every girl needs to go to the stores ASAP and pick up the September edition of Cosmopolitan magazine! In this month’s edition of the magazine they have provided us with a golden ticket to Not-Pregnant Land. The article is extremely informative and covers everything from birth control to abstinence and everything in between. They make information on 17 types of birth control available. My favorite thing about the article is that it provides the reader with answers to common concerns that women, including myself have about birth control. To me, the most unique features of the article are the sections where they discuss how to talk to your doctor about birth control and creating a back-up plan. Both of those are things that I wish I would have known about earlier. Staying informed is the recommended way to make the best decisions about your own reproductive health. I give this article 5 gold stars and an A+ for providing accurate, interesting, and up-to-date information!
Stay Informed. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
Sep 4, 2013
As you read this, young people are working hard to make comprehensive sex education a reality. They’re knocking on doors, holding campus events, and organizing their friends online, all to gather support for the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (REHYA). The REHYA will dedicate federal funding to comprehensive sexual health education programs that will finally provide young people with the skills and information they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions.
Your signature will make a difference. In just a few days youth activists will visit their Representatives and Senators in Washington, D.C. and personally deliver the signatures they have worked so hard to gather. They’re leading a nationwide movement for comprehensive sex education in this country. Let’s back them up.
Sep 4, 2013
August 2013 is the beginning of my second year as a Broward County Youth Council member. This year will be bitter sweet for me because I am aging out. I am extremely excited for what this year has to bring. All of the hard work we did last year is slowly coming to fruition. I am excited to see how everything falls into place regarding comprehensive sex ed in the Broward County school system. This year we have a few new members and I am anxious to work with them on our upcoming projects. This year will be EPIC for me. I plan on having a blast. Urban Retreat is s quickly approaching and I am ready to learn new techniques and tools that will help me be a better advocate. This year will definitely be a memorable one.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 30, 2013
Aug 29, 2013
At the end of July, an Iowa sex education program called “Parenting: It’s a Life” received national recognition and an award from the National Child Support Enforcement Association in Virginia. However, as a young person, I give it my annual “You should do better” award.
“Parenting: It’s a Life” focuses on the financial realities of having a child, moving away from the “usually” covered topics of sex education such as reproduction, contraception, abstinence, and sexually transmitted infections.
Although the “Parenting: It’s a Life” program is slightly less shame-mongering than abstinence-until-marriage curricula, it still goes out of its way to invoke fear around sex. By telling students that “if you cannot afford jeans, you cannot afford diapers,” or that young parents will not have financial support from parents, this sex education program shames students from having sex and from parenting.
Personally, I know there are better ways to teach sex education and health, since my school district in St. Louis Park, Minnesota had extremely comprehensive sex ed classes in the elementary, middle, and high school.
I remember my first health class. I was ten, and I truly did not understand my body or the changes that were occurring. I was petrified. The health teacher said it was OK to feel scared by the physical and emotional changes during puberty. I was comforted, knowing I was not alone.
As I went through school, I continued to benefit from my school district’s comprehensive sex education. I learned about every method of the contraception, from condoms to the sponge, healthy relationships, and substance abuse and peer pressure.
My time as a student in sex education taught me that I can make my own informed decisions about sex and relationships. I was comfortable not having sex when I was not ready, and comfortable to start having sex when it was the right time for me.
“Parenting: It’s a Life” does not give young people the necessary tools or information to make informed decisions about sex or parenting. It’s true, the program is not the worst in the country; however, it could be much better. For this reason, it wins the “You should do better” award. And although it is not the worst curriculum out there, young people deserve better.
Aug 23, 2013
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 20, 2013
Hey guys, I’m back with my second edition of my story this goes to all the parents all around the world…
…..wait this is also for everyone, we will all become parents one day won’t we?
Growing up was silent and painful for me, I hated times when we were on holidays, we had no one to keep my junior sister and I company while everyone left for work. We were left alone under the care of a family friend who lived with us for over four years starting from when I was 8years old, and all through those years he had sex with me every day (all those days when no one was at home) it was always painful and became a routine and the worse part of it this was that I couldn’t tell anyone this. my mum was strict and never told us anything about our sexual health or sex education. I didn’t even know what sex was or what the sex organs were called I could only tell that what was happening to me at that time were the worse days of my life. I really wished someone had told me what sex was then, I would have at least known what to do but I was totally blank ignorant.
I became silent about almost everything in my life, I never talked to anyone about any issues the experience I had, I hated anything that had to do with sex (till date), and I never wanted to go hang out with anyone or interact with anyone and worse of all I hated men.
And then of course I grew up feeling inferior and looked at myself and wondered if I was going to face this trauma for the rest of my life, I always kept to myself no matter how hard they tried to persuade me to let out my feelings, and that was why a lot of things went wrong while I was growing because there was no one to put me through and all the same I learnt about my sexual reproductive health from the wrong source and got the wrong ideas.
Parents are you watching your children? Do you trust the people you hand your children to? Or do you leave them at home alone or with the house keeper help? Do you give them the right information they need? Or leave them blank just like my mother did?
If you are a parent you need to watch your child very closely, notice any change in him or her, talk to him or her very often find out what is going on in their lives don’t just leave them in the hands of someone else.
Raising your child is your responsibility, no one can do it better than you and if so it will be done the wrong way.
Aug 20, 2013
Learning about consent and putting an end to a culture of sexual harassment and rape
Aug 14, 2013
In all-inclusive atmosphere without bullying or stigma
Aug 8, 2013
Forward Together youth are excited to present their brand new video series… Sex Ed: the Saga!
Sex Ed: the Saga is a video series created by and for youth and is a way for young people to lead conversations that adults don’t always know how to have with us. Forward Together Youth are aiming to get young people, caregivers, teachers, and mentors to start conversations on the topics often left at the door.
The first video they’ve released is “20 Condoms,” a sex positive, protection-endorsing riff on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ song Thrift Shop. This video along with all the others in the Sex Ed: the Saga video series promote a comprehensive and LGBTQ inclusive sex education that is essential to cultivating justice in our communities and empowering young people!
Check it out!
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.
The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.
Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.
Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.
“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.
“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”
As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
Jul 22, 2013
All too often our stories are told for us. Last week, I had the honor of presenting to members of congress, their staff and other people in the reproductive health and rights field during a congressional briefing with Black Women’s Health Imperative. I took this opportunity to use my voice as an African American young person to tell anyone listening that we Millennials are not only invested in creating change but we are committed to making sure our generation can lead healthy lives. Read what I had to say!
As a member of Advocates for Youth’s Young Women of Color Leadership Council, I have been organizing and advocating around the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people for the last 5 years. I am dedicated to this work not only because I believe that young people like me deserve the right to lead healthy, self-determined lives, but also because I know first-hand what it is like to navigate this world without access to accurate and honest education and services.
At 23 I can say that I never received any type of formal sexual education from any educational institution I attended. The first time I was tested for HIV happened completely by accident. One day during my junior year in high school I wandered into a mobile testing unit in hopes of receiving a free metrocard. That would be the first day I would find out about HIV and other STIs. The woman conducting my test asked me if I was nervous and I proceeded to tell her no and then asked her would I have a reason to be. She began to explain sexually transmitted infections and diseases to me. Thus giving my first “sex education class” in the back of a mobile testing unit. Although my results that day revealed that I was not HIV positive, I remember feeling like someone had robbed me. I felt cheated. Lied to. I could not fathom at that time how learning about preventing diseases that could potentially make you sick and claim your life were not as important as math and science. The even more depressing part is that even when I went to college many of my peers were still uneducated about their sexual health, and how prevent HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies. I began wondering whether we all needed to wander aimlessly into a mobile testing truck to learn about saving our lives.
As leader of a campus organization that provided sexual health information specifically geared toward Black and Latino students at Syracuse, it became more and more clear to me that I was not the only person who had been robbed. Some of our campus events attracted over 200 young people interested in learning about what they could do to lead sexually healthy lives. Many of these young people expressed that they felt that this is something that should be taught in school, by the administration. They were not alone.
Not only do African American Millennials believe that comprehensive sexuality education should be available to young people in high school, overwhelming majority, over 90% believe that it should include information about preventing HIV/AIDS and other STDS, unplanned pregnancy prevention, and abstinence. Over 80% also believe that comprehensive sex education programs in high school should cover information about pregnancy options including abortion.
Many of the young people I worked with in college constantly spoke about the barriers, many financial, to accessing contraception and abortion services. Research shows that over 90% of African American Millennials believe that contraception needs to be available and affordable to help young people stay healthy. 75% of African American Millennials believe that regardless of how they feel personally, abortion should remain legal and that women should be able to get safe abortions.
There is still much to be done to ensure that young people like myself have access to medically accurate and culturally competent information regarding their sexual health, and we young people across the country are working diligently and organizing to make it happen.. While the media and other people are committed to portraying my generation as apathetic and removed from this type of work, I can insure you that those statements are indeed false. In fact, according to research conducted by the Reproductive Justice Communications Group and Advocates for Youth, over 7 in 10 of African American millennials say they are interested in improving young people’s access to sexual health services such as contraception and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. 7 in 10 expressed interest in getting personally involved in promoting honest and accurate sex education programs in their communities. Another 6 in 10 are personally interested in making sure that safe abortion is available and accessible in their community. We African American Millennials are interested and committed to helping our friends, our families and our communities access services and information to live healthy, autonomous lives.
Here’s video of my remarks at the briefing!
Jul 19, 2013
Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.
- Parents need to talk to their children about sex and relationships early.
- Schools need to teach comprehensive sex Ed.
- When asked a question about sex or relationships by a youth answer them and more importantly answer honestly.
- Stop pretending like kids and teens aren’t thinking or talking about sex.
Jul 19, 2013
Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.
- Parents need to talk to their children about sex and relationships early.
- Schools need to teach comprehensive sex Ed.
- When asked a question about sex or relationships by a youth answer them and more importantly answer honestly.
- Stop pretending like kids and teens aren’t thinking or talking about sex.
Jul 12, 2013
Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies
The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.
Jul 8, 2013
When I mention the term taboo I DO mean the game in which you guess the word someone on your team is explaining. I mean taboo as in is a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake, under threat of supernatural punishment as explained by Wikipedia(you know you refer to that site). Parents today are just not taking the initiative to teach their kids or even answer questions.Everything starts at home. The schools does not enforce sexual education like they should hence why advocates does the work they do. I hearing all kinds of things that are just plain crazy and I have to correct the young people and send to different resource. If different organizations are providing the resources then parents should back the kids it’s only right. I want education for all dispite the topic. If only I can educate the world.Sex shouldn’t be taboo instead it’s should be talked about. I am positive parents don’t want students learning from the wrong person.
Jun 26, 2013
From Huffington Post:
The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.
Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.
The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
Their cries continued to echo inside the chamber — and over a livestream watched by thousands around the world — until after the midnight deadline passed.
Although some Republican lawmakers later claimed the bill had passed in time, Democrats denied that the vote was completed before the clock ran out on the session.
A time stamp showing the vote completed after midnight was the deciding factor. “This will not become law,” Sen. John Whitmire (D), told The Austin American-Statesman.
In response, the crowd of protesters gathered in the capitol cheered and began singing “The Eyes Of Texas,” the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin.
According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst was less than pleased by the evening’s turn of events. After ruling that the time on SB 5 had expired, he told reporters that “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” had derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.
The legislation would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers and restricted access to medication abortions. Had it passed, nearly all of the clinics in the state would have been shuttered.
Dewhurst also hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may call another special session to get the bill passed, saying: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”
Despite a long day of filibustering, Davis was upbeat when she greeted the crowd of supporters, who applauded the senator and chanted her name.
“Today was democracy in action,” Davis said. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.”
Jun 21, 2013
For decades, most Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been lying to women, evading questions, and disguising their institutions as health care facilities. They receive federal funding to shame women into believing lies- “abortion causes breast cancer”, “it will make you infertile”, “condoms do not protect against STIs”, etc. They do not have a doctor at these facilities, and are not under HIPAA regulations of non-disclosure of medical records. They are against all contraception forms. They will harass a woman until she is in tears, and then send her on her way with a Christian religious token, and a promise from her that she will keep her child, they will only provide “help” if she agrees to go to Bible Study. This is not health care. Title X funding should be revoked.
Jun 21, 2013
“CPCs have a long history of engaging in deceptive advertising. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. The Family Research Council investigated what names would be most likely to appeal to women, particularly pro-choice women, in a 1998 report. Women’s Resource Center, which gives the impression of a full range of services, was deemed to have the most strategic value in reaching women “at risk for abortion.” The report also showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” and “Clinics.” Accordingly, CPCs often are advertised under these categories, as well as “Abortion Alternatives,” and “Women’s Organizations.” CPCs also advertise through posters, signs, and billboards that contain messages like, “Free Pregnancy Test,” or “Pregnant? Scared? We Can Help! Call 1-800 #.” Women report, however, that when they call these numbers the CPC representatives evade questions about whether they provide abortions, and urge the women to make an appointment to meet with a ‘counselor’ to talk in person.”
Jun 21, 2013
About 15 years ago in the beautiful beachy paradise of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Rick and Maria gave birth to a precious girl named Tatianna. Tatianna was the belle of the ball with extremely good looks everyone commented her on a daily basis. When Tatianna entered middle school her body developed very quickly. Some would compare her to a woman who was about 25 years old. Even though her parents gave her the whole speech no sex before marriage that made the boys want her even more. Everyday in school as she walked the hallways you could hear all the hormonal teenage boys belting out very vulgar remarks to her as she walked on by. But pretty soon she met what would become her first love. The guy I’m talking about is Rick Knight. Rick Knight wasn’t your typical jock he was smart and chivalrous to the ladies. Some would say he was the perfect gentlemen. As time went on Rick and Tatianna began dating and the relationship grew very fast. Soon they decided it was time to have sex and.,…………………………. Now we know the rest of this story can go a numerous of ways its up to us to complete this. With Comprehensive Sexual education the possibilities are endless stay tuned. LOVE, LIVE, LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 20, 2013
If you haven’t watched any videos by the rib-crackingly funny YouTube blogger Hart, you’re in for a treat. Hart is the “Lesbian lover from another mother, with boobs and a vagina. It’s all necessary.” Prepare thineself for the hilarity.
I came across this video entitled “Watermelon…” in which Hart explains why one’s love for women does not mean that one has to dress in the stereotyped fashion of feminity.
Do yourself a favor and follow Hart on…
Also, check out Hart’s music video about “Lesbian Issues”
Jun 18, 2013
The Candies foundation has done a great job at repackaging anti-teenage pregnancy messages in a way that youth and celebrities alike pay attention to. However, it has greatly failed at addressing or highlighting the factors that lead to teenage pregnancy and how to avoid an unintended pregnancy.
If more anti-teenage pregnancy organizations addressed and amplified the factors that lead to teenage pregnancy their messaging would be less offensive to teenage families and more effective in reducing teenage pregnancy and STD/STI infections in youth.
Jun 15, 2013
“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”
Jun 14, 2013
In an attempt to lower teen pregnancy rates, Chicago has implemented a thought provoking ad campaign. All over the city people are encountering billboards picturing pregnant young men. While the images are powerful, I am uneasy about their message and effectiveness.
As seen above, the uniting message of these ads is, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are. Avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Use condoms. Or wait.” While I applaud the Chicago Department of Health for not promoting abstinence and safe sex practices, by imploring “use condoms” instead of “use protection” the message is a bit limited. Perhaps this campaign is solely targeted at males, in which condoms are the most effective form of protection. I know ads must cleverly summarize their message into a line or two, but this subject deserves a bit more expanding. Where’s the mention of how you must use condoms properly each time for them to work? Even just adding “every time” after “use condoms” would have gone a long way and perhaps subliminally started to engrain the consistency condom use requires. The ads lists the website www.beyoubehealthy.org which also only provides basic information on condoms, and no mention of other forms of birth control and sti-protection. A thorough, responsible education campaign should offer knowledge on all options.
I have always been a believer of the tenet that “scare tactics” do not work. Yes, they often provoke meaningful conversations, but their effectiveness has failed to be proven. Supporters claim similar ads resulted in a 10% drop in teen pregnancy in Milwaukee, however, it is difficult to isolate causality. I would love to see a campaign that sparks conversations about how to have safer sex without shaming teens in the process.
The Milwaukee campaign had nearly identical ads. I’m sure they were well-intentioned, but attached quite a bit of stigma to teen pregnancy in order to get their message across. Below, one of the ads claims that teen pregnancy is “disturbing”.
Attaching such charged words to teen pregnancy gives it a negative connotation, further shaming young parents or those debating what to do with their current pregnancy. In addition, while I acknowledge this trend is decreasing, some young adults still do choose to have children and we should not push those people to the fringes of society.
Jun 11, 2013
Jun 4, 2013
Generational amnesia is a disease many adults suffer from today. Often times older generations seem to negate the fact that they themselves were ever teenagers or young adults.
- When I was young we listened to our parents and didn’t do___.
- When I was young we knew better than to disobey our parents.
- When I was young we knew better than to have sex outside of marriage.
- When I was young I knew about sex, you can’t possible tell me you need someone to teach you about sex.
- When I was young we knew if we even thought about disobeying our elders we would have hell to face.
- When I was young no body wondered if they were gay or not.
- Note that “When I was young” can be replaced with “My generation” and still be signs of generational amnesia.
- youth feeling uncomfortable when it comes to speaking to adults about sex, relationships, drugs, and sexuality.
- Older generations isolating themselves from a youth’s reality and challenges of growing up.
- Older generations feeling youth, “need to just figure it out on their own.”
- Older generations creating ads and public service announcements that do not reach youth because they are created by people who do not understand youth.
Jun 3, 2013
In an interview with the Guardian on June 2nd, actor Michael Douglas revealed that his throat cancer was caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). The stage four cancer was originally deemed fatal when Douglas was diagnosed in August 2010. While he has been cancer free for two years, his outcome could have been much worse if he had not seen a doctor in Montreal who correctly diagnosed him. Before learning HPV had caused the cancer, he had seen many specialists who failed to notice the large tumor on his tongue and link it to HPV.
Approximately 25-35% of oral cancers are HPV-related, yet many of Douglas’s doctors and various media outlets assumed that the cancer was caused by Douglas’s tobacco and alcohol use. Substance use is often correlated with cancers of the throat, however, oral sex is often not connected in our conversations. Our culture tends to stigmatize those experiencing STIs and downplay the frequency of occurrence. Often this stigma drives people away from seeking the treatment they require. While the Guardian article is fairly objective, it does subtlety further this norm through its diction. By declaring Douglas’s admittance as “surprisingly frank”, the article acknowledges the silence regarding this subject, while simultaneously assigning oral sex and its possible health risks as a subject that is unnatural to be discussed.
In addition, this article and similar conversations are worrisome because they sensationalize the act of oral sex, rather than focus on the health implications of such cases. Instead, conversations should center on how to adapt our health institutions and processes to better diagnose and treat HPV-related cancer cases. The article quotes a recent study in which 57% of 1,316 patients with oral cancer tested positive for HPV-16. Over 100 variants of HPV exist and many are symptomless, but HPV-16 has been linked to a type of oral cancer. This increase in HPV-related oral cancer cases can be attributed to various factors such as the rise of oral sex and fluctuations in safe sex practices. Whatever the cause, health professionals must adapt to the changing causations and be open to discussing their patients’ sexual history, so that the diagnostic period can happen as quickly and as accurately as possible. Luckily for Douglas, oropharyngeal cancer is highly curable even in the latest stages of intervention. If dialogue about our sexual practices and history becomes more embedded in our culture, then the linkage between certain health problems and sexuality will not be an afterthought, leading to earlier intervention.
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 31, 2013
SEX .SEX. SEX ???
Sex is a basic human need — this is what we study in our school syllabus. Unlike food, water, clothing and shelter, sex is also needed in one’s life and we should know about it from an early age. However, the irony is that the important thing which we all should know is considered a taboo. So what actually is taboo? If knowing about sex is bad, then why has nature given us that? Why did our parents give birth to us? Indulging and talking about sex privately is considered good, but when it is taught or discussed openly then it is considered a taboo. Why? The answers should be given by those who consider it a taboo perhaps.
In the IT world and let’s say in this congested world, we all are linked with sexual desires. We want to know about it. These days there is a fashion of posting status on Facebook. So, it can be utilised in sharing pictures and articles regarding sex. We can inform them or form a group on Facebook to talk about basic things about sex, its problems, and consequences of having sex at a young age and so on. Technology is really a boon for today’s generation. If used for good and positive cause, then life can be changed into a positive one.
Children and adolescents are more curious about the sex, which may lead them to practice and feel it anyhow. This may cause teenage pregnancy, rape cases, transmission of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Internet or books will be a better way to discover and understand it. Discussions amongst peers may also be helpful but there might be misguidance too. So the best way is, parents conversing with their children about the topic. Answering your child’s questions about sexuality instead of ignoring it will help them a lot. It’s your responsibility to introduce them to the topic, share your feelings, listen to your child and explain to them your family values. Make your children aware of the negative consequences of unsafe sex. This will help youngsters to express their sexual feelings in a responsible manner .
Sex-related queries are more for the youngster and teenagers. Good guidance can be one of the best ways to help the people of any generation from getting involved in bad sexual activities. S/he hesitates to talk about the sex in the family. So, guidance can be sought by posting or sending queries and problems to sex experts. If one does not get good guidance, s/he can indulge in bad activities. Popular FM and TV stations should also run the programs related to sex education. It will help youngsters and others who are shy to ask questions related to sex.
May 31, 2013
The Seven Types Of Sexuality
Heterosexuality- Is the sexual attraction between members of the opposite sexes such as man attracts to woman and woman attracts to man sexually.
Homosexuality- is the sexual attraction between members of the same sexes such as man to man and woman to woman.sexually.
Bisexuality- Is the sexual attraction to both the opposite and same sexes such as man to man and man to woman, woman to woman and woman to man.
Asexuality- Is also known as nonsexuality which is the lack of sexual attraction and sexual interest towards others.
Polysexuality- Is the sexual attraction to more than one gender but do not wish to be known as bisexual as it implies that their are only two binary sexes, do not confuse this with pansexuality (Pan meaning All) and (Poly meaning many).
Pansexuality- Is the sexual attraction towards people regardless of gender also known as omnisexuality, some pansexuals refer to themselves as gender blind as to them gender is insignificant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.
Transexualism - Is when a person identifies themselves with a physical sex that is different to their own biological one, A medical diagnosis can be made if a person experiences discomfort as a result of a desire to be a member of the opposite sex. for example a person may be born male, and is uncomfortable with their gender as a male and changes to a female, or a female may change to a male. It is a long process that they will go through and an expensive one too.
For your information.
May 30, 2013
There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights. One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action. When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization. According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.” They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites. To this organization, abortion is:
An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken. But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous. Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.
The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website. Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on. One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice. The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth. You can watch her video response here. I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.
It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though. Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action. Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff. The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident. But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.
Seriously! Click the link below to watch!
May 28, 2013
Most people have trouble talking to their partner about sex and about past sexual stories to know more of the safe side of their own sex life. So here are a few tips to break the ice with your partner:
You can take a long walk together, and let the conversation go where it may.
Take a car ride together and listen to music. The lyrics can spur great conversations.
Try working out together and initiate conversation while you hit the treadmills.
These are all great methods to get the conversation going so that you and your partner can learn more about each other’s sex life and also how safe and knowledgeable you both are. It is important to have this talk so you both can be on the same page with Safe Sex!
May 27, 2013
May 27, 2013
50years is worth celebrating no doubt, but what do Africans have to celebrate the African Union for ? Economic growth ?,political independence ? social progress ?,or technological advancement ? An answer to this will depend on which side of the board one finds his/herself. There is no doubt that strides have been made in some of the mentioned above areas, but if there one area in which the African Union has woefully failed is in the area of the empowerment of girls, women, and youths.
In a write-up to mark this day titled : The Africa We Want to See,the current chairperson of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Nzuma amongst other things talks of this being an opportunity to take stock of Africa today,its assets, capabilities,opportunities , and challenges. She is definitely right and inorder for the African Union not to become mere words as feared by Ahmed Ben Bella, Africa through the African Union and its people must deliver for its main assets which is its people- especially girls, women , and youths. The time is for African girls, women, and youths is now ! I am utterly convinced that the African delegates and other stakeholders at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference will make cristal clear and that concrete actions will be taken to ensure that the plight of the African girl,woman , and youth takes central stage in the various policy formulation and implementation processes accross our beloveth continent ;Africa.
May 24, 2013
According to “Today”, Republicans on the Ohio House Finance Committee voted to adopt changes to the two-year state budget that will significantly restrict the teaching of sexual education in the state, mandating an abstinence-only approach. To know that the only approach to teach young adults sexual health education is abstinence is very limiting in educating. Young adults deservethe RIGHT to get all of the education they need, besideswhenhas less been better than more? In this case more is better! Stepping up to bring awareness to the different types of contraceptives (and yes abstinences is one method) is great, but what about the rest of the sexual health prevention information. Teaching sexual health education has a broader approach today,and not only can we teach young adults how to protect themselves but also how to teach someone else that may not know. I want more when it comes to my life, I want more when it comes to being safe, and I want more when it comes to knowing that I live above the influences! For more info on taking action against these types of measures, please visit www. amplifyyourvoice.org!
May 21, 2013
Because there are actually sensible people on this planet who know that the responsibility of pregnancy does not fall solely on the shoulders of girls and women, the campaign above exists. The Chicago Department of Public Health’s Office of Adolescent and School Health has launched a great campaign about teenage pregnancy. The campaign features images of pregnant lads, reminding people that there is always another party involved. Because in today’s society, people are quick to shame the young women, forgetting that they couldn’t possibly have gotten pregnant all on their own. What are we now? Amoeba?
You can read all about the campaign on the City of Chicago’s official website.
May 21, 2013
(Note: Katia Gomez is the Founder and Executive Director of Educate2Envision, an international NGO working with the children and young people of Honduras. Recently, her organization was recognized by the WomenDeliver as one of the 25 finalists for the WomenDeliver 25, an online competition to determine the top social enterprises that benefit girls and women around the world. More than 13,500 votes were cast online to select Teen Revolt, New Incentives, Wedu, and the other winners. Each finalist will receive a scholarship to WomenDeliver 2013, where they will compete in the first-ever Women Deliver Social Enterprise Challenge. Photo credits goes to Educate2Envision website and Wikipedia.)
Leo: Hi Katia, first of all, congratulations to you and to Educate2Envision for being one of the Top 10 finalists for the Women Deliver Social Enterprise Challenge. How does it feel to have reached this far? Tell us the process that your organization have undergone in order to reach this point in your organization of being a finalist of such a prestigious competition.
Katia: Thank you! It’s such an honor to be recognized for our work with the girls of Honduras on such a global scale as Women Deliver. It is a great feeling of accomplishment and also one of excitement at this particular point in time as we are growing Educate2Envision and expanding throughout the country to bring educational opportunities to hundreds more. To get to this point has taken the ability to learn lessons along the way and really take time to understand the communities we work with to better support them on their journey towards building empowered future generations.
Leo: How did Educate2Envision started as an organization? Why choose the name Educate2Envision as the name of the organization? Are you based in Honduras alone or does the organization also have other country offices with specific projects to work with?
Katia: My vision for starting the organization came after a Spring Break volunteer trip in 2009 with a group of undergrad classmates. This was one of the first times that I was able to see the poverty discussed in my classroom lectures and textbooks really come to life. Speaking to the parents and teachers in the community that would become our pilot program, I began to quickly understand all the new buzz around girls’ education and how it could indeed change the outcome of entire countries.
The name Educate2Envision came about because I wanted the name to speak to the “before and after” of our work. We don’t only want to provide a means for youth in poverty to become educated in the traditional sense, but rather we have a higher goal of providing them with the self-esteem and leadership skills to envision a better future for their communities.
We are currently working only in Honduras with our headquarters based in California.
Leo: Why should an organization like E2E focus on the education of the young people boys and girls of Honduras? How important is education to them? What good can it bring to their lives?
Katia: An endless number of surveys and interviews that our students have contributed towards overwhelmingly show a desire to use education as a tool to improve and develop their communities and to enable them to be productive citizens of Honduras. Almost every response proves to be a selfless one when asked why education is important. The level of importance cannot be overstated in a society, such as the rural communities of Honduras, where the cycle of poverty is aggressive and stubborn often reflected in parents who lack basic literacy skills. Education is that investment that can break the cycle that has endured for generations and set a precedent with the first in the family to be educated past primary school and beyond; you can bet that their children will follow the same trajectory. Poverty is a complicated web of deeply rooted inequalities, so it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel, but education is one of the most fool-proof investments we can make in putting an end to this.
Leo: Please share to us the progress of the programs and projects that E2E has implemented in the communities of Pajarillos, Miravalle, and La Ceiba such as:
a. Girls Leadership Club
b. Secondary School Sponsorship
c. E2E Youth Empowerment Network
d. Other E2E Programs
Katia: To date we have sponsored over 60 students to be the first in their families, and often communities, to move beyond 6th grade. The E2E Youth Empowerment Network will have it’s first National Conference take place next month which will showcase small business projects from each school intended to address a need in their communities. This will be the first time they will all be brought together to collaborate and help give a bigger voice to the rural poor. Our Girls Leadership Club is functioning great with the latest survey results showing that girls who participated have greater self-esteem and self-respect than before. One of my favorite recent quotes was from an 11 year old girl, “Before my friends and I would play house and pretend to be moms, now when we play we pretend to be teachers and doctors.”
Leo: Your website gave information to its best, I am wondering if you integrate comprehensive sexuality education to your programs and projects? If yes, I would love to know how you specifically integrated this in your programs and projects. If not, what could be the possible impediments/challenges that E2E which hindered you from implementing so?
Katia: Yes we definitely have prioritized reproductive health and sexuality education in our programming because it is so rarely discussed within the formal school system or even among parents. With such high rates of adolescent pregnancy, there is really no sidestepping the issue if we want our students to excel in our secondary school programming. There are a variety of ways that we instruct our students including open discussions inside the Girls Leadership Club, workshops led by our Honduran University interns, and training primary school teachers how to approach the topic in class. It is taboo is most of Honduran society to openly discuss sexuality education but we have not found parents to be opposed to E2E’s efforts in making the knowledge available to their children.
Leo: How do you monitor and evaluate your programs and projects? What are the results so far?
Katia: Our monitoring and evaluation techniques try to encompass both qualitative and quantitative indicators within a community. For example, we track student progress within the primary and secondary school systems such as enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. But we also pay close attention to the level of behavior change among our students and the community overall by asking questions related to future goals and where education fits in their lives. We have seen outstanding results among the students we have sponsored so far in 2 communities. As a result of creating access to secondary school, enrollment rates have spiked at the primary level as parents have been moved to place their kids in school. We also have the highest number of graduating primary school students in the history of the community, who will all be first generation high school students. Additionally, the community that previously faced the highest level of teen pregnancy has had zero girls in the past 2 years exit 6th grade pregnant, which has broken a decades long trend. The overall sentiment towards having goals in one’s life has been transformed dramatically over the past 3 years such that nearly 100% of primary school students can tell you what they wish to be when they grow up whereas before our arrival, they were unable to answer the question because they were unaware of what other options existed.
Leo: What good practices have you encountered while doing these programs and projects and why should we implement it and learn from it? What does E2E want to achieve at the end of the day? Are their new programs, projects or initiatives that E2E will be implementing anytime soon?
Katia: Good practices sometimes involve needing to stray from the rest of the pack. On the education side of development work, my experience has shown that many organizations invest predominantly in tangible donations and infrastructure projects. Although this does represent an unmet need in many communities, I feel there is a lack of focus on more cost-effective projects that promote leadership and innovation among rural youth. If we spend the time to truly understand the intricacies of a rural poor community, we will come to understand that deeply entrenched belief systems are incredibly difficult to influence when it comes to education, so we must make a conscious effort to work directly alongside community members every step of the way.
E2E wants to leave a community in the hands of empowered future changemakers. We don’t see our role as solely creating access to higher education and enrolling as many kids as possible into the program. Each student that we invest in is surrounded by opportunities to gain leadership and life skills that transcend what is traditionally taught in the classroom.
The newest initiative we have underway is a change to our current student sponsorship program. We are building a sustainable model that will allow students, as a class, to design a small business project that would be analyzed by experts and once finalized would receive seed funding from E2E as well as financial workshops. The income earned would be used by students to fund their own school fees .
Leo: Can you share to us how you got involved in the organization? How does it feel working with young people, girls and boys in Honduras? What is the situation in Honduras that motivated you to work for E2E?
Katia: Well it’s incredible if you look at the figures and just think that a country has nearly 75% under 30 years old and only about a quarter of them have any access or resources to attend secondary school. It’s one thing to be astonished by those numbers but it’s another thing to work directly in trying to close the gap and send first-generation high school students back to school. It’s incredibly rewarding because I was sponsored through high school and university as well and now it has come full circle to being able to help those who needed an opportunity as I did.
Leo: Educate2Envision can only do so much out of its own efforts, how does your community help or assist you? Is there a government counterpart or cooperation in your projects? Are you acknowledge by the government of Honduras for your efforts and is there a support you receive coming from them? With the recent political turmoil in the country, how did it affect your work, your recipient communities, and the education system of Honduras?
Katia: The local government has played a very helpful role in supporting our efforts whether it be through assistance with transportation, monitoring, or providing material support for any construction projects. The Secretary of Education and the Ministry of Social Development are both active in providing partnerships that help offset some financial costs, particularly personnel, on our end. We luckily have not been negatively impacted by any political situations at the national level. As an International NGO we have been very fortunate to have great freedom to function independently without much red tape.
Leo: Some people does not know about where and what Honduras is. I myself only know a few things like its Maya heritage, Tegucigalpa, Dania Prince Mendes (Miss Earth 2003), and Manuel Zelaya to name a few. In your own words, describe Honduras to us, to me. Why do you think it has a promising future when we educate its children in order to envision? Muchas gracias!
Katia: Honduras has unfortunately become synonymous with violence and drug trafficking for many who do not know the country outside of what the media reports. I’m so glad to see that you are familiar with other aspects as well! There are undoubtedly many issues related to violence and poverty that restrain Honduras from progressing forward, but the people here are resilient and bonded as a community. You will always have those in political power who are in it for the wrong reasons but I have met so many local Honduran government workers, young people, and teachers who truly believe, with all their heart, in education as the solution to improving the lives of their communities and the country as a whole. We shouldn’t allow the crimes that take place, as happen in any part of the world, to overshadow the overwhelming acts of good that exist and I believe will ultimately triumph with a new generation of humanitarians that will lead the way.
May 18, 2013
Planning events are a great way to advocate for issues that matter to you and your community. For me, the biggest thing was to giving myself plenty of time to plan everything out, and make sure that it would go smoothly, and as planned.
If you’re working with your council and you want your coordinator to work with you or attend the event, let that person know in advance! They need to know ahead of time, because their schedules can get very busy. You might need to come up with a new date and/or time. If you are going host the event at your school or a with school club affiliate, you might need to fill out permission request forms, depending on your school. You might also need to find a teacher or administrator to sponsor the event.
My council-mate and I were planning to host a movie screening of “Lets Talk About Sex” in our school auditorium! First, we had to talk to the principal about the event. We had never talked to him about our council or sex education, but it went swimmingly! He totally loved the idea and supported us.
In order to reserve the auditorium, we had to have a sponsor. When we decided on sponsors, we went to them and told them about our council and about the movie. A teacher and a school nurse filled out a form for us. We offered to let the nurse and teacher watch the movie and both did. They loved it and fully supported it as well!
Another thing to think about is the time of day to host the event. If you hold it too late in the day, youth will probably not want to go back to school. We chose a time when kids would still be at school.
The next thing that I thought about was how to attract people and get them thinking. Create flyers! At our school, we have computer programs to make the best flyers. We also ended having to make a permission slip, which our coordinator gave us. We stapled a permission slip to each flyer.
Next, we handed them out to people, teachers and our friends. We also served pizza after our event so that people wouldn’t just show up for the pizza and leave. When our event started we accepted the permission slips and asked people sit down. We ended up with 25 people, which is great!
You have to remember that some people will say that they are going to attend, but will not show up later. A very important thing to do before you end the event is to let your attendees ask questions. Let them know about any important events that are coming up, and get their information to enter them into the database and receive newsletters, etc. After your event, you will know you know who you can invite again and ask them to tell their friends. If you feel you didn’t do something well, make a note about it to fix it for your next event. Your first event is a learning experience. Good luck with your event!!
May 18, 2013
Dear Sex Ed Teachers,
Let me start by thanking all the sex educators out there. You are helping us become better human beings.
We might not show it, but we truly appreciate you and all you do.
We (as in your students) know more than anyone that talking about sex can be a bit uncomfortable, but you, being the great sex teacher you are, maneuver us around the initial awkwardness and get us to a place where we are all comfortable enough to ask questions.
Yes, yes, we know the jokes and the eye rolling is annoying, but the truth is we really do care. And that jokes are actually topics that we want to bring up. Your lessons are the topics we bring up at sleep overs and at the lunch tables. If it seems like we don’t care, or like we know all that there is to know about sex, just know that we listened to the topics you brought up. You got us talking, provided us with the information, tools and resources.
Thank you for enduring all the “yo mama” jokes and brushing off the funny comments.
May 18, 2013
I strictly assumed that by this time period humans would not be arguing over equality, inclusion, and sexual health. Apparently, some Americans don’t want their children learning about “the gays”, “the lesbians”, “the immigrants” or “cultures.” Some are even outraged because “white heterosexuals” are “no longer represented.” These are authentic words spoken from citizens present in the committee for HB 1081 or “The Sex Ed Bill”, on Thursday February 7th. I went into committee humming “I’m just a Bill” to ease the nerves, because I had no idea what to expect for my first committee hearing. I was not prepared to speak, but after listening to the opposition’s arguments that were no more than racist and discriminative, I wanted my voice heard. I was “the gay” that they rejected, and the “immigrant” that disgusted them, and the “culture” that they were opposed too.
My turn came to speak. Hesitant I got up from my chair, stepped slow and cautious to the stand while I felt judgment from the many eyes in the room. I thought repeatedly in my head what I wanted to say, but as soon as my mouth said the first word, everything seemed to vanish from my brain. What was a high school student to say? Hell, why was he even here? I sat down. My voice shook as I said my name, but I remembered the woman who didn’t want “the gays” and the “immigrants” in her white heterosexual culture and said “I am here representing the Latino community who cannot be here today because they do not speak English, or have the resources to be here.” Yes, I said Latino with an accent because in that very moment, I had never been more proud to be a person of color. I then stated “I would like to begin by saying that I identify as gay.” Never had a said “I identify as gay” openly, in public. I knew however that this was the time to truly express myself as an advocate.
I testified for HB 1081 in a way I never thought I would. I not only came out to the 12 legislators in the room, but I came out to the priest in the back who probably damned me to hell ten times over, the woman who drove from Colorado Springs to attack communities I am a part of, and the many allies in that room which gave me the boost of confidence I much needed. I didn’t have a clear understanding of why I do the work I do. I knew I had a passion for the education of individuals, the equality of humans, and empowerment of the mind, but it took that one woman saying “the gays” and “the immigrants” to accurately put this into perspective. Not only was I advocating for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education, but I was making a stand for everything that is included in Comp Sex Ed; The inclusion of culture, ability, gender, age, sexual orientation, size, and ethnicity. Comprehensive Sexual Health addresses the respect for others and respect for yourself, which is why I was able to testify, and confront the opposition: Learning about my body, my actions and reactions, and my rights as a young person has allowed me to gain self assurance and confidence. The experience of testifying for committee was electrifying, intimidating, but mostly rewarding and reflective, and I can only hope that I was remembered among the citizens who don’t want the “the gays”, “the lesbians”, or “the immigrants” in their culture, these pitiful underprivileged people: Where are they represented?
May 18, 2013
Respect. I think the word that best describes what I’m trying to get at with this blog. I feel like there’s this notion in society today that a women’s self-respect and self-worth lie completely between her legs, and because of this notion a lot of other social issues arise. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase have some respect for yourself ladies and keep your legs closed. Statements like this pigeonhole women and keep society in that outdated mindset that all a woman is good for is sex and childbearing. Self-respect, to me, has to do with self-love and standing up for yourself and what you believe in. It’s like a reverse golden rule, “treat others how you would like to be treated” treating yourself that way too. Self-respect has nothing to do with how much sex you have or how revealing your clothes are.
So, “slut-shaming” is what I’m getting at now. “Slut-shaming” is the shaming or acting of woman, making her feel inferior or guilty for engaging in certain sexual behaviors that deviate from traditional norms or expectations. Girls do it, calling each other sluts with no self-respect because they make sexual decisions that are simply different from their own. And by doing this, they open a door for men and the rest of society to disrespect women and look down on women who simply have different viewpoints than their own. This just adds to the inequality of women and double standards, because you less often see anyone calling a man a slut with no self-respect.
So all of this serves to contribute to another, bigger societal problem which is “victim blaming.” It’s the mindset that women are responsible for being raped, or “they were asking for it,” because of the way they were dressed, the way they were acting or the amount of drugs or alcohol in their system. This culture in society emphasizes and teaches victims not to get raped, or not to do things that would promote getting raped, rather than punishing perpetrators and teaching not to rape. No matter what the person is wearing or how they may be acting, forced sex without consent is rape. Keeping in mind that consent cannot be obtained if the person is passed out drunk. So where did “rape culture” and “victim blaming” come from? Well if we’re allowing society to look down on women as “sluts,” then we can’t be surprised when that same society isn’t sympathetic towards them when they are raped.
Back to respect. Respect is essential to stopping “slut-shaming” and the problems that emerge from it. Having respect is having an open mind towards understanding that not everyone’s opinion on sex and how and when to have it is going to be same as yours. Rather than resorting to calling each other names, we should open our minds and our hearts towards understanding people who are simply different than ourselves.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013
Wow! How time flies. I can’t imagine I am year older (again), thought I this morning when I received an SMS from a friend I have long lost sight of. It read thus; “Happy Birthday and many more years” This is a classical birthday message that anyone will send to a friend or even an unknown person, you might be thinking. But this is not the case for me because unlike in the previous years when I will just receive these messages and file, I have this year decided to carefully study these Birthday messages before filing or even deleting and as well carefully look through all the Birthday messages I have been sent at each one of these occasions.
Though written in different styles and strongly influenced by the nature of my relationship with the sender of the birthday message, there is a wish that was omnipresent in all the messages: Wishes of Good Health; which is what my friend’s, “Many More Years” in the above extraction from his birthday wish message to me seeks to express The result of this crazy study revealed to me how much Cameroonians care about their health.
The health of the average Cameroonian, like that of any normal human being in the world, is very important to him/her. What would vary might be the approach to ensuring that they stay healthy and maintain an equilibrium that is necessary for them to live a life worth living. Important as being healthy might be to Cameroonians, they are not unaware of the barriers to staying healthy. Talking about barriers to staying healthy in Cameroon, if you ask any Cameroon what the greatest barrier to staying healthy is, you would likely hear him/her answer ‘ACCESS’.
While it is clear from all indications that access to health is a stumbling block to Cameroonian’s staying healthy, it should be noted that even where these health facilities are available, users complain bitterly of the quality of the services rendered. Thus, it is common place to see a health practitioner sarcastically questioning a teenage girl about the reason for her pregnancy and making fun of her pregnancy by using very insulting and violent language. Worst still, it is common place to get a health practitioner who openly discusses results of the medical test of his/her patients without any sense of guilt or fear. The judgmental nature and lack of confidentiality in Cameroon’s health services is so widespread and across all spheres of society that a government minister recently declared that a journalist who had been tortured to death while in detention had died of HIV/AIDS.
With judgemental attitudes like these from health professionals and lack of confidentiality, no wonder an ever increasing number of pregnant teenagers refuse to go for prenatal checkups. To stay clear of insults and other traumatizing language and behaviours, they thus decide to stay at home with the risks that this carries.
It is high time the quality of health services in existing health facilities be improved so that patients, especially young persons, can have the best possible experience and not be afraid, for instance, to get an HIV test because they are not sure the results will remain between them and the health professionals.
The quality of health services, though often ignored, is an important factor in reinforcing the access of young people in particular and society at large to health facilities and should be considered as such by policy makers and health professionals. The availability of health facilities that have little or no consideration for the quality of the services offered creates more problems than it solves.
As government leaders, policymakers, healthcare professionals, NGO representatives, corporate leaders, and global media outlets gather in Kuala Lumpur to attend the Women Deliver 3rd Global conference to hold from the 28th-31st May 2013, it is my greatest desire that the quality of health services as they are now be carefully studied and appropriate action taken to make them less judgmental, more efficient, and more youth friendly.
May 16, 2013
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Panel looks at Elizabeth Smart’s recent comments on abstinence-only sex education and whether the policy is effective.
WATCH IT HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty_MA_mrow8
May 13, 2013
May 11, 2013
“Sadly, real or perceived controversy keeps schools from providing young people with the information and skills they need to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.
Irrational fear – the cultural belief that teaching young people about sex will cause them to have sex – keeps administrators and educators from doing what they know is best: providing young people with developmentally appropriate, sequential and honest sex education. Never mind that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.
Ninety-five percent of all Americans have sex before marriage. About half of all young people begin having sex by age 17. Providing a foundation of quality sex education is the only way to ensure that young people will grow into sexually healthy adults. It can augment what children learn at home and combat misinformation learned from peers or found on the Internet. Porn is not the best way for teenagers to learn about sex, but it will fill the vacuum when sex education is politicized and withheld from our classrooms.
Quality sex education should start in kindergarten. Early elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend (the foundation for healthy intimate relationships later in life). Fourth- and fifth-graders need information about puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. And seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.”
May 6, 2013
If Nevada and Sexuality listed their relationship status on Facebook, it would undoubtedly read “It’s Complicated”.
A flourishing sex trade? Check! A tourist industry that is based around that 80’s clichéd notion that “sex sells” and continuously uses women’s bodies as the background for marketing strategies? Duh, All about it! Home to Sin City, a place built upon a slogan that tells visitors that you can basically indulge in whatever vice you want, and leave with no consequences? Come on, It’s Vegas, Baby!
But providing young people a comprehensive sex education?! NOW, THAT IS SIMPLY OUTRAGEOUS. At least that’s what many lawmakers and anti sex ed advocates are screaming about in Carson City because of a new comprehensive sex education bill (AB 230) that is currently making its way through the Nevada legislature.
As a homegrown Nevadan, a Las Vegas resident for over 25 years, and an activist who found her voice and strength by engaging in local communities in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada, I can’t put into words how important and HUGE this all is.
See, Las Vegas is a city that has a difficult time having an honest conversation about sex. Sure, its nickname is Sin City, and everywhere you look, some notion of sex is being shoved down your throat (pun unintended). And while prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas itself, there are small towns outside of the city limits where legal brothels boast a steady business. All this to say, Las Vegas and the state it resides in, have not reconciled this economically-driven presentation of sex with the way we talk to the young people growing up around it.
My sex education in Nevada was similar to many others across the country. When the time came to teach sex ed, the health teacher separated us by gender: we then learned the basic anatomy of parts and functions, saw traumatic photos of STDs, and were warned about the varying consequences to having sex. You know, the basic fear-inducing, shame-based ways of talking to young people about sexuality.
Now what wasn’t talked about were all the sex-related things I was actually seeing around me day-to-day. Like the fact that most my friends were already engaged in varying sexual activities at that point. Like how I had no clue what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like for someone my age. Like how I didn’t have a firm grasp on what rape actually was, especially in the context of drinking and drugs. Like how I had internalized the correlation of my sexual desirability and success. Like how I knew that if I went to college, I’d end up making less money than if I served cocktails on the Strip. Like how I saw my male friend get in trouble for wearing makeup to school. Yup, my Nevada sex education really just became another layer of my adolescent confusion, fear and shame around sexuality.
Growing into adulthood, finding my feminist voice, and figuring out sex and sexuality on my own, I slowly shed those layers of fear and shame that had been so prominent in my life as a young person. As my voice grew louder and my activist spirit hardened, I quickly ascertained that Las Vegas and the entire state of Nevada was one of the most unique political landscapes in this country. And also had the most schizophrenic internal conversations with itself about sex and sexuality.
But just a few years ago, I saw a brief step forward in that conversation. I had the privilege to help organize the first-ever LGBT Lobby Day in Carson City where we actually talked with legislators about gender and sexuality. That was also the session where we were able to pass a domestic partnerships bill in Nevada (a state whose constitution includes language on marriage being only between a man and a woman). And after those victories, I often wondered what the next big legislative victory would be.
Fast forward a few years later, and here I am, sitting in an office in Washington, DC, working for a national organization that fights for reproductive and sexual health/rights for young people. And my job? I manage state-based policy and mobilization efforts around comprehensive sex education.
And I’m hopeful to believe that THAT is what the next big legislative victory will be in my home state.
To put some legislative context to this — After failed attempts in 2011, the Nevada Legislature is currently (finally!) debating the merits of providing its young people with a more comprehensive approach to sex education, and advocates are pushing hard this time around to see their vision turn into reality. And to add to that, the nation’s eye has been on Nevada’s legislature recently, most having to do with a new wave of courageous and progressive legislators (Lucy Flores, Kelvin Atkinson, Pat Spearman – I’m lookin’ at you!) that have really pushed the state to see that the Personal IS Political …. even in the Wild West of Nevada.
And though I find myself described as a Washingtonian these days, y’all should know that this little Battle Born activist doesn’t mess around with her Nevada’tude. With Nevada having the 4th highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, and topping the charts in STD rates and high school drop-out rates, I’m standing in solidarity and joining my friends in the Silver State to push for a more comprehensive approach to sex education.
Because the adults of Nevada owe it to their young people to finally figure out their state’s relationship to sex; and maybe then, Nevada’s young people will have access to a healthy, positive relationship to sexuality and themselves.
If you are curious about the movement of Nevada’s sex ed bill, follow updates here!
May 4, 2013
May 3, 2013
South Carolina’s sex education is horribly outdated, and we all know it. I’ll admit I’m not from South Carolina. I spent middle and high school in Denver, Colorado, and, so I received a pretty decent sex education from the school system. The currciculum promoted abstinence, but it also covered contraception and condoms, and it covered STD’s. At the time, I didn’t think this was very revolutionary as far as sex education went. Then, I came to USC for my undergrad, and I found myself in a women’s health class. During this class, my professor asked my classmates who had attended high school in South Carolina (the majority of them, around 50 people) who hadn’t received sex ed during high school and almost every single person raised their hands. Needless to say, I was shocked.
TellThemSC is doing a great job spreading the news about how outdated (over 25 years) CHEA (the Comprehensive Health Education Act) is. It was revolutionary for its time, but as my example above shows, it’s starting to lag in applicability and usefulness, and the youth of SC deserve better. If you have any time this week, stand up for the youth of SC (this could even include you!) and let SC lawmakers know that you’re invested in seeing this bill update all the way through! Check out this link and get calling:mhttps://secure3.convio.net/ttsc/site/Advocacy?alertId=333&pg=makeACall&JServSessionIdr004=838ahh7o19.app334b.
May 2, 2013
Last week, governments from around the world met at the United Nations for the 46th Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Throughout the week-long deliberations, governments, UN agencies, demographers, and NGOs debated the topic of migration and its relationship to the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action—a groundbreaking declaration which signaled a major shift in population policy from one based on population control to one based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
What’s migration got to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), you ask? Well, just about everything.
Today, more women are migrating than ever before, representing nearly half of the total international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 to 80 percent. And young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion. Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including SRH services. As a result, ensuring access to SRHR information and services and protection of women’s and young people’s rights was our number one goal at the CPD.
So, how’d we do? Well, this year’s CPD proved interesting, to say the least. Traditionally progressive countries that fight every year to advance SRHR found themselves in a bit of a pickle given their countries’ rather regressive migration policies. Against the backdrop of comprehensive immigration reform playing out on Capitol Hill, the US delegation—typically a stalwart champion of young people’s SRHR and LGBT rights—sought to include language restricting access to non-emergency services to only those migrants who are documented or in legal status. The same was true for other Global North countries like the UK, Canada, Denmark, and the EU. At the same time, conservative countries with strong religious views (think Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Honduras, Malta, and Poland) joined forces with the Holy See (aka, the Vatican) to denounce any inclusion of SRHR or sexual orientation and gender identity. Discussions grew more and more tense by the day, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the negotiations and a final “take it or leave it” declaration drafted by the chair of the commission.
From a youth SRHR perspective, the declaration is just so-so. Here’s my take on it.
- Recognizes that human rights are universal and must be promoted and protected regardless of migration status
- Mentions SRH/SRHR five times, with specific attention paid to the prevention of and response to sexual violence, including the provision of emergency contraception and safe abortion services where permitted by law
- Calls for gender sensitive migration policies and actions that empower women and prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, coercion, discrimination, trafficking, and exploitation and abuse of women and girls, including protections for women migrant domestic workers
- Urges special attention (albeit only in a preambular paragraph) to young people’s vulnerability to HIV due to social and economic inequities, stigma, discrimination, gender-based and sexual violence, gender inequality, and lack of access to information on HIV prevention as well as access to sexual and reproductive health services
- Encourages governments to eliminate any remaining HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay, and residence
- Includes language in two places which restricts access to services based on migration or legal status, as well as an entire paragraph reaffirming the sovereign right of each country to implement recommendations in accordance with national laws, “with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people”—in essence rendering everything in the resolution optional if countries disagree with its tenets
- Neglects young people, who are only mentioned twice, both of which are in the preambular paragraphs which carry less significance than the operational paragraphs; adolescents do get a minor mention in OP30 which calls for services to be provided to women and adolescents that are sensitive to their needs, with particular attention to sexual violence survivors
And the Ugly:
- Rejected language suggestions from several countries that would recognize the rights of young people, including access to SRH services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education
- Eliminated the only operational paragraph solely addressing the specific rights, needs, and vulnerabilities of young migrants
- Refused to include a single mention of sexual orientation and gender identity, despite three attempts to do so
After a groundbreaking resolution on adolescents and young people at last year’s CPD, we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us to ensure young people’s rights are front and center in the 20-year review of the ICPD in 2014 and in the post-2015 development agenda. We simply cannot afford to go backwards; we need forward progress if we are ever to see the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.
Apr 30, 2013
When I first began to read the article “How a German Elementary School Taught Sex Ed“ published today in The Atlantic, I was a bit shocked. The first sentence describes how a high school biology teacher in Idaho is under investigation by a “professional standards commission” for using the word vagina. Okay, that wasn’t what shocked me. After all, there was that Michigan State Representative who was censored last year for using the same word in front of adults. What surprised me more was the next sentence. Parents in Berlin are mad after an elementary school used a book containing illustrations of condoms and descriptions of orgasms to discuss sex.
Germany? That’s a country in Europe, right? Isn’t Europe supposed to be all liberal about sex and more open to discussion, which is why they have higher rates of contraceptive use and lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion than other countries. So isn’t this normal?
The article included pictures from the book, along with a disclaimer that cartoon penises would be shown ahead. The first set of images show a couple of cuddling on the bed, both completely naked with all of their anatomically correct parts shown. In the next image, Lisa – the name of the woman – is putting a condom on Lars. Great, safe sex! In the following image, the couple is enjoying some post-coital cuddling.
To appease those German parents and lawmakers who thought that perhaps the book had “unnecessary zeal“, updated versions of the book change the name of the couple from Lisa and Lars to Mama and Papa, and remove images of condoms so that sex is not portrayed as something that is merely done for pleasure. The name of the book is even changed to “Was I in Mommy’s Stomach Too?”.
The authors of a 2012 study that examined children’s knowledge and understanding of contraception and birth argued that kids in elementary school are capable of understanding such topics. However, the study’s results showed that kids from Sweden and the Netherlands understood far more about these ideas than did children from the United States (no shocker there). (The picture at the topic of this article was drawn by a Dutch boy as part of the study. Not too bad, actually)
In the 22 years this book has been out, Germany has still managed to keep its adolescent birth rate to one-third of that of the U.S. While it would be unfair to claim that this book is solely responsible for the lower rate, it is indicative of wider acceptance of age-appropriate sexuality education in Germany and Europe as a whole. To be clear, there has been no discussion of banning the book in Germany, or firing the teachers who used the book. The book is still at the school, although children do not have direct access to it. The most critical comment of the book came from a lawmaker who said that “Sex education should accompany the development of children, not speed it up.”At a time when sex education is again under attack across the United States, it may be too extreme to ask that the book is translated into English. However, the United States could still learn a lot from Europe and their reasonable, realistic views on sexuality education.
Apr 30, 2013
Transgender women are the fastest growing population of the HIV-positive. The National Institutes of Health came out with a report, noting that almost a third of transgender Americans have HIV. Trans women of color specifically are at a greater risk than their white sisters. Through a survey, it was found that 56% of black trans women have HIV. The 2009 study from NIH also noted that many transgender women may not even know their HIV status. With an alarming statistic like this, we have to wonder what’s causing it.
When individuals are thrown into social injustice, it can be difficult to escape from. Trans women are profiled and disproportionately targeted and arrested by the law enforcement. The police will try to use condoms as evidence of sex work, so trans women face the “choice” of keeping themselves and their partners safe or getting arrested. When they’re forced into jail, trans women are often housed with male inmates or they are put into solitary confinement, as if either path is any better. Sex workers are generally more likely to be HIV-positive than those who are not engaged in sex work, but because of the disproportionate targeting of trans women, trans women sex workers’ risk for HIV is four times greater.
While sex work is a valid way of meeting financial needs, some trans women turn to it as an option because of discrimination in employment. In most of the United States, it’s completely legal to turn down or dismiss a person based on gender identity and sexual orientation. People can even be denied housing or become evicted because of their gender identity and orientation. This leaves a dangerously negative and significant impact on their economic well-being and safety. It also makes it difficult for trans women especially to keep up with their hormonal therapy, since it’s often not covered by insurance, if they can even pay for that insurance with what the circumstances are. With lack of access to basic health care, many incompetent doctors, clinics, social stigma, and overall institutions that discriminate against trans women, especially those of color– it’s all a very nasty formula expressing why trans women are hit so hard with HIV.
So, what can we do to help? Trans people are often absent from public campaigns for sexual health and safety. We can start by including them into that, and into many of our discussions and campaigns of social justice as well. We could get trans-specific in our literature in safer sex guides. We could also set up community centers as a safe space for trans people and create some peer groups, which would be strong social networks and a good use of peer outreach for safer sex and HIV testing. And of course we could and should create social support and do our part to de-stigmatize our trans brothers and sisters. Look up a local or national activist organization today.
Apr 24, 2013
“I also came to realize that the focus on personhood ignores the fact that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is growing inside of another person’s body.”
|—||Libby Anne, “How I Lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement”|
This is really important to consider. You absolutely can advocate for a zygote, embryo, or fetus. But understand that in doing so, it subsequently infringes on the rights of the person this being resides in.
Giving a fetus personhood is not equality. No one currently has the special right of using another’s person body without constant consent.
Apr 15, 2013
There are many reasons one may feel the need to reuse a condom. One may not have enough condoms on hand, too caught up in the moment to search for another or possibly trying to save on the amount of money being spent on condoms. However, this practice is highly unsafe. Reusing a condom puts you at risk for multiple reasons.
The major problem with reusing a condom is the contact with the different bodily fluids. This is because if there is ejaculate or pre-ejaculate in the condom or on the condom this puts your partner at risk for catching any infections you may have. Also, if your partner has any infections this may too cause you to catch an infection from them. Another point to note is that condoms where not built to be reused. After using a condom it is hard to get the condom back on the penis without damaging it in some manner. A new condom provides an air tight seal to prevent leakage of semen, but after being used this feature is gone so the condom does not hold on as tight anymore. Due to this both you and your partner are at risk of getting infections and possible pregnancy issues.
So it is best to always keep more than one condom on hand. And if you find yourself in the predicament of needing another condom, remember, it’s best to wait than to give in to immediate satisfaction and live with regret for the rest of your life.
Apr 15, 2013
by Ashley L.
Bee Day was fun. It gave me time to catch up with my SWARM members and meet students from USC. It was also good meeting Brandon for the first time and catching up with the Tell Them staff. We stayed at a hotel on USC\’s campus on Tuesday night. On Wednesday we ate breakfast and lunch at the Tell Them office while we went over key points to talk about while lobbying. We walked for about 15 minutes to The State House. We took a beautiful group picture outside in front of the George Washington statue.When we first arrived we realized that the people that we needed to talk to were on furlough. We were bummed about this at first but that did not stop us. We still stayed and talked with the assistants. I think that we still did a great job and still got our points across. We know that they will still receive the information because we left informational packets. Overall I had a great trip to Columbia for Bee Day.
Apr 12, 2013
The female condom doesn’t get much attention when it comes on to sex education and the little attention it gets is over shadowed by the oh so mighty male condom (lol) so I’ve decided to share some tips i found online on how to use the female condom and answer some questions that some females might ask about the female condom and its usage.
Do female condoms interfere with the woman’s experience of pleasure during sex?
They can take some getting used to, but once you do, they shouldn’t interfere with orgasm. In fact, because the female condom has a ring that lies near or atop the clitoris (as you can see in the picture above), some women may actually get some additional pleasure because of the stimulation.
Do we need to know anything about how to use or insert them?
On the open end, a flexible ring is attached. Inside the closed end is a smaller, floating ring. The inner ring should be squeezed together and inserted; the outer ring will nestle outside the vagina. Women who have used a diaphragm will understand how to do this immediately — others will probably need to practice. They come with a bit of lube already on them, so they can be slippery and a little hard to keep squeezed shut while inserting.
Are they as effective at preventing STDs and pregnancies as male condoms are?
When used correctly, they are pretty comparable. This means, though, that users have to avoid the lose-the-condom-inside-the-vaginal-cavity problem. And the “Ooops, honey, I thought I was in the condom but really my penis was next to it” problem.
The very best thing about them, STD-wise, is that they cover more of the vulva (and penile base) than a traditional condom, making them a better pick for preventing herpes and HPV.
Do they allow men to feel more pleasure during sex?
Yes, many men do say they feel more sensation. Why? the female condom is bigger, capacity-wise, and is not supposed to hug the penis, so the guy gets more motion and friction than he does wearing a male condom, which clings tightly to the contours of his cock. Guys who want to prevent the cling problem with their own condoms should be putting two or three drops of lube into the head before they put their condom on, so the head of the condom has some mobility on the head of the penis.
And do female condoms, um, head off any problems related to the occasional loss of erection while he’s putting the condom on?
Because there shouldn’t be as much anxiety or fumbling on his part, it may well help with the loss-of-erection issue.
Anal sex isn’t my thing. But if my readers are having it, will a female condom protect them?
If one of these is used for anal sex, you have to be quite cautious because a particularly deep thrust can push it all the way in. This could conceivably happen vaginally, too, with a long-penised guy, but is less likely, because the cervix provides a natural stop that the rectum does not have.
What about the cost?
They’re more expensive than male condoms — but some clinics have started to dispense them for free.
Apr 10, 2013
Only 23% of sexually active teens have been tested for HIV. Are you one of them? Find free or low-cost clinics near you!
Apr 10, 2013
Today is National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. This disease has been robbing our generation of precious young people for many years and now is the time to take a stand and fight for our generation back. I am happy to support this day and I have hopes that it will evolve into a mass movement amongst the young people of this generation. Knowledge is power! By raising awareness and promoting prevention young people will have the power to fight HIV and AIDS.
Apr 10, 2013
While Boston College is against adult students at the college using and having access to condoms my college LOVED when the student government gave out condom flowers on Condom Day.
I am one part of my college’s Undergrad Student Governments Health Programming Board. Our campus has a health clinic like many other college campuses however, a lot of students do not know about it. In an effort to get more of my peers to know about the clinic and to be more mindful of the sexual health I decided to make condom flowers for Valentine’s Day and give them away to students.
Apr 9, 2013
by Nadia A.
I really enjoyed participating in Bee Day this year. I was upset that we were not able to actually meet with the senators though. I have met most of the representatives and was really excited about seeing the other side. The highlight of the day was going to Representative Jerry Govan’s office and hearing the opinion of his assist, Mickey. She was very supportive of what SWARM was doing and thinks that other young people should try to get involved with the issue of Comprehensive Sex Education too.
One thing that really amazes me is the fact that South Carolina is very open to letting people walk through the State House and letting people see where the laws are made and evaluated. This is good because voters need to know that they are welcome to see what is going on in the government and feel that they are not beneath the legislators. This creates a closer connection between the legislators and the voters.
A tactic that I will bring back with me next year is the willingness to listen to the opinion of others. It is important to be open-minded when lobbying for something that you believe is right. If we are not open-minded, how do we expect the legislators to consider our ideas and want to make the change that we believe needs to be made in South Carolina schools? Overall, I enjoyed the day and am looking forward to Bee Day next year with my SWARM and TellThem family!
Apr 9, 2013
I read an article about funding being pulled from Sex Week at the University of Tennessee. The event was scheduled to take place on April 7 – 12, 2013. This is discouraging, not only because an opportunity to inform the masses is lost, but also because the retract of funding was done so at the last minute. This in addition to a pulling of funding for a LGBTQ conference shows the disconnect between officials at the school, and the student population. People don’t realize how important sex education is. It is at this level, that people can get informed and learn how to make responsible decisions so society can grow and flourish. Reiterating what the author said in the article, yes sex education is important in middle and high schools, however college-aged populations should not be neglected either. This is a critical time where most students are experiencing being away from home and alcohol and drugs are readily available. Extra funding should be provided not taken away. Keep the youth informed, our future depends on it!
Apr 8, 2013
by Alexus T.
Bee Day in my opinion was a huge success!! Even though we didn’t get to talk to members of the House or the Senate we pulled it off. Meeting the USC Social Work Program students was fun. They all were unique and brought different ideas to the table. We all shared the common interest of wanting Comprehensive Sexual Health Education for our youth. It is crazy to spend $190 million on teen moms when the money could be put to use in many other ways to benefit South Carolina. Planning SexED on the beach was also fun. Hopefully we can make it happen. A huge beach party for college students while educating them on sex?? FUN FUN FUN
My unforgettable moment was when I went Rep. Cobb-Hunter’s office. We all were a little afraid to enter because she was yelling at someone and her conversation went from professional to personal. My great SWARMer friend Melanie took the honor of placing my folder on her assistant’s desk.I had a great day overall!!
Apr 6, 2013
A few weeks back I listened attentively to ‘SOS Doctor’, one of the best health programs that be on Radio in Cameroon. As I listened, I got very happy at the great job that Dr. Dion Grace, a member of the National AIDS Control Committee of Cameroon was doing to educate Cameroonians on anti-retroviral drugs. She eloquently and insightfully answered every one of the questions that were posed to her by listeners who called-in and am sure her intervention in the program was a timely one. Everything was fine until when a listener called-in to ask what is it that could be done to reduce stigma on people who are on anti-retroviral drugs. Dr. Dion as usual gave a very insightful answer to this question going as far as citing the example of Ivory Coast where the drugs are put in anonymous packages so that they can be taken by patients without fear of stigma by the people around them. She went ahead to cite cases where some special containers of various doses is been used in some countries to reduce stigma. This was quiet interesting to know, but when she started advising people on anti-retroviral that they could tell people around them that they are taking vitamins or pills in order to avoid stigmatization I grumbled the following to myself: Do I have to be so ashamed of my status that I have to lie to others?
I have no statistics on this but I can assure you that having to lie on your HIV status is the order of the day in Cameroon especially amongst young people to avoid stigma and discrimination. Well, this to an extend is understandable given that People Living With HIV/AIDS(PLWHA) are considered as being punished by God for either their sisns or those committed by their family. But when telling a lie to avoid stigma is a behaviour that is reinforced health professionals, I have reservations and clearly doubt how efficient this approach could be.
I am utterly convinced that a problem can only be solved if its root cause(s) is/are carefully tackled. As a young person living in a society where most PLWHA are young persons, I compare telling a lie on your HIV/AIDS status to survive to deliberately refusing to tackle the problem from it’s source and launching an attack on its leaves instead.
To reduce stigma in the most sustainable way possible, education rather than lies is required.Young People, their families, and the communities in which People on anti-retroviral drugs have to be educated on the dangers of stigma and on the importance of accepting PLWHA. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ Secretary-General, vividly spelt out society’s responsibility to PLWHA when he declared that, “We can fight stigma. Enlightened laws and policies are key. But it begins with openness, the courage to speak out. Schools should teach respect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance. The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care.”
Lies do nothing but contribute in amplifying the myth around HIV/AIDS in the Cameroonian society. People on anti-retroviral drugs do not need to lie on their status to survive stigma, they need to accept themselves as they are and deserve the care and protection that every other human being is due by the society in which they live.They deserve to live a real life and not a life of lies.
Apr 6, 2013
A new bill is sitting in front of Alabama lawmakers that would strike this inaccurate, hateful language from the law. But there are only a few weeks before the session ends. If they don\’t feel the pressure from the public and the media, we won\’t have another chance before 2014.
Apr 5, 2013
by Jordan C.
“First, let me say how much I enjoy being part of the SWARM council.
It gives me so much joy to be able to work with such amazing and passionate people. I attended “Bee Day” last year as a general advocate and felt the enthusiasm the TellThem staff had for their cause and I knew I had to be a part of it.
This year, my first time attending as a council member, I still felt the same amount of passion and drive that I felt my first year. Even though we were not able to personally talk to our legislators (because they decided to take an early Easter vacation…), we still were able to talk to their staff and let them know how important comprehensive sex education is to us and other South Carolina youth.
Since we weren’t able to meet with our Senators or Representatives, most of the “fun” occurred before and after our lobbying.
As I stated before, I love being part of SWARM, and I love it even more when I get to meet up and talk to the other council members and staff. My favorite things about this trip were being able to talk to my cohorts about equality, education, and ways to promote our mission; being able to catch up with the lovely Emma Davidson and the rest of the TellThem staff over lunch; and becoming, in general, more confident with speaking out for sex education reform.
Even though I’ve been on the council for a year, I still get nervous when we go to talk to our legislators, but this group helps ease my anxiety. So I am thankful every time we meet up because without these people, I would be stuttering and sweating like a person on trial.
However, the thing I take away most from “Bee Day” is the urge to change our state for the better. South Carolina’s outdated CHEA is not being followed, and the state is failing at providing non-discriminatory, medically accurate, age-appropriate, responsible, inclusive sex education. This is is the pinnacle of our work and our advocacy, and “Bee Day” reiterates the need for constituents to get out and speak up for what they want to see be done. And I want change.
Again, “Bee Day” was a great experience, and I cannot wait to participate in it again (and I hope our senators and rep’s will be in session, and actually update their calendars so we’d know). Hopefully we will have just as much fun, and just as much advocacy next year. ”
Apr 3, 2013
Thanks to Advocates For Youth, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s National Advocacy Weekend for 5 days this past March. As I packed my bags and boarded the plane that would take me from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC, I had no clue as to the intense intellectual, emotional, and passionate environment I was about to step into.
This year’s Advocacy Weekend was focused on the inclusion of immigrant women’s health care in immigration reform. Immigration policy directly affects an immigrant woman’s access to health care. According to the NLIRH website, the majority of female immigrants do not have healthcare coverage. State legislatures continue to introduce legislation that would restrict non-citizens’ access to basic public health programs, including prenatal care. Immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.
Reproductive Justice tells us that these services are essential for women to have the basic human rights to dignity and self determination. It was under this belief that over 50 activists from across the country joined together. We represented the full spectrum of american latina identity- some of us were undocumented, others were second and third generation citizens. Our command of English and Spanish differed, but we were united in our conviction, and most of all in our support of one another.
Yo te apoyo. This is one of NLIRH’s campaign slogans, and it was this sentiment that was most felt throughout the weekend. As we learned about the intricacies of immigration reform and of it’s intersections with Reproductive Justice, we were free to voice our personal experiences and frustrations. People spoke of very personal obstacles- young motherhood, the pain of familial disruption by deportation, the inability to be seen by a doctor for a cyst in the breast- openly and honestly, and were always received with respect and the assurance that they had in their power the ability to create change.
At the rally for Immigrant Women on Sunday, speakers shouted, “We are on the right side of history!” to a church full of applause. I clapped and shouted right along. It was only later that I questioned the assurance I felt that this is true. I suppose I feel that I am “on the right side of history” when I am working with people who sound least like a history textbook.. People who choose not to simplify and sterilize an issue, because they are not afraid to admit to and confront the complexity and diversity of it. People who gain collective power through their willingness to admit to vulnerability, to the need to support and be supported in their struggle.
For more information about the issue of Immigrant women’s access to healthcare, and how it is affected by immigration policy, check out:
Apr 3, 2013
In this midst of an ongoing conversation with a classmate of mine, they asked me “Hey Crystal, how can you tell if a person has an STD?”. Once I noticed that this question had caught more attention than either of us had planned on, I politely answered “You can’t”. All at once I became bombarded with questions, with the main idea being, “How do I protect myself?”. I went on to say that people who have STDs or who are HIV positive obviously aren’t just walking around with badges on that read “Hi, my name is _______, and I have Chlamydia.” You can’t tell what a person has been infected with, and honestly in most cases, they may not even know themselves that they are infected. Nevertheless,I am positive that the best way to protect yourself is to practice safe sex. Condoms aren’t just something cool to collect, or put on your key chain, or even to wear on a stylish bag (although we absolutely love these swag items)… condoms are like mini soldiers that protect you from the dangers that may come along with being sexually active. Wear your soldiers with pride and always wrap it up! For more info on sexual health, text SEXT to 74574.
Apr 2, 2013
April has been deemed STD Awareness Month by the Center for Disease Control. This is an important observance that flies by without many people knowing it, and usually these are the people that should know about it.
Every year, according to the CDC, 20 million people will be newly infected with an STD and in half of these cases they are under the age of 25. That’s scary!
The problem is that many of these people don’t know that they are even infected and that helps spread the infection on to new partners. STDs like chlamydia, HPV, and gonorrhea often have little to no symptoms which in turn becomes a cycle of people getting infected without knowing it and spreading down the line.
These can be physically dangerous as well. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause serious damage to both men and women’s reproductive systems and HPV can cause cancer. All of these can easily be avoided if it’s known to the patient that they are infected and seek quick treatment.
Education and testing is the key to bringing rates down and getting this problem under control. The CDC recommends that all active people get tested yearly. When is the last time you have been tested? Are you sure about your status?
Apr 1, 2013
- Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
- Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
- Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?
Mar 29, 2013
My last post I shared some interesting information about the female body. I went and found some interesting information about the male body, that I now share with you.
Just as informative as I found the information about the female body, I also found this to be a good read for all my peers and for those who it will be shared with.
Again, HAPPY READING and please share the info with your network.
THE MALE BODY
Men’s/guy’s bodies allow men to enjoy pleasurable sexual feelings, have sexual intercourse and orgasms, and reproduce by making sperm that can fertilize the woman’s ova (eggs). The sexual organs of the male are partly visible and partly hidden within the body. Each part has a medical name and there are lots of other names that people sometimes use. The medical names for the outside parts are:
A penis hangs outside a guy’s body from the genital area and underneath the penis is a loose sack of skin that is called the scrotum. At the top of the penis (which is called the glans) is an opening called the urethra. Guys urinate (pee) through the urethra. The urethra is also the hole through which semen spurts out of the guy’s penis when he ejaculates during an orgasm. One of the biggest concerns of many young men, and many older men, is the size of their penis. There’s not a right size for a penis at any particular age. Normally the penis is soft. But when a man gets sexually aroused blood flows into the penis at a faster rate than it flows out. This makes the penis larger and harder and it is called an erection. The average penis is between 5 and 6 inches long when erect. Not all erections are caused by sexual excitement. Guys, especially younger guys, can get erections at the weirdest times. These are called spontaneous erections and this can be embarrassing. However they go away fairly quickly if you ignore them. Many guys also get erections during their sleep and have a spontaneous orgasm in their sleep. This called a “wet dream” and doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Some men are circumcised (the foreskin which covers the glans is cut back after birth) and some are not. Guys who are not circumcised need to pull back the foreskin when they urinate or wash themselves.
The scrotum is the loose sack of skin in which the testicles (balls) are hidden. Depending on how cold or warm it is, whether the guy is sexually aroused or not the scrotum can shrink or expand in size. The scrotum is covered with public hair. The medical names for the inside parts are:
There are two testes (also called testicles or balls) that are inside the scrotum. Before puberty the testes are inside the body but “drop down” into the scrotum at puberty when a boy begins to physically become a man. The two testes grow in size and become able to produce sperm and male hormones like testosterone. The testes are healthiest when they are at a temperature slightly less than the inside of the guy’s body. They are very sensitive to injury. When a guy ejaculates, sperm that was made in the testes mixes with other fluids that are made inside the body and spurts out of the penis.
The epididymis is a narrow, tightly-coiled tube connecting the ducts from the bottom of each testicle to the vas deferens. The epididymis is sort of like a reservoir for sperm that is made in the testes.
The vas deferens transports sperm from the epididymis to be ready for ejaculation. During ejaculation, the vas deferens contracts and pumps sperm towards the penis.
The seminal vesicles produce fluid that mixes with the semen before it is ejaculated.
The main function of the prostate is to store and release a milky white fluid that makes up about 25-30% of the semen which is combined with sperm and seminal vesicle fluid. The alkalinity of prostate fluid helps neutralize the acidity of the vagina, prolonging the life of sperm. The prostate contains some smooth muscles that help to pump the semen out of the penis during ejaculation.
Mar 29, 2013
It’s time to take action and invest in young people – their health, their education, and their leadership – so we can truly reach an AIDS-free generation!
Join us for the FIRST EVER National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) on April 10! Let’s acknowledge young people’s great work fighting this epidemic, and hold our leaders accountable to prioritizing young people in the fight against HIV & AIDS.