By Melanie Waddell
SWARM attended the Urban Retreat in Washington DC over the weekend. It was an amazing experience where I was able to meet tons of different people from all across the nation and the world who are just as invested in these issues as I am. To see these young people so involved and engaged in the activities really made me proud to say that I’m with this group. I’m with Advocates for Youth and CAMI. I’m part of a group that promotes comprehensive sex education and equal rights for all.
So this group of amazing talented youth marched towards Capitol Hill and we went in to see our representatives and show them our power. We wanted to show them how much we cared, and show them why they should support us. We marched in to those offices, sat down, and met Congressional aides. We talked, gave our spiel, and left information folders. When we finished, the aides asked us questions or thanked us.
They were nice but noncommittal. One of them explained the process to our group. At the federal level there is only so much that our representatives can do. It’s really up to the state legislators to enact comprehensive sex ed programs for SC. This is because the federal government cannot dictate curriculum, that’s a state responsibility.
In a weird way, this was a practice run for the real meeting with our state legislators. For me, this confirmed that what we’re doing can make an impact. One person can make a difference because there’s a ripple effect. Every time we talk to a legislator, hand out a pamphlet, or post a blog, we can spread the message. And just by doing this, we are already making a difference.
SC is traditional. She’s old-fashioned. She likes her tea sweet and her yellow jasmine blooming. She has never been fond of change. And I can’t fault her for that. I’m the same way. I love SC. It’s the perfect temperature, with mild seasons, great people, and a friendly atmosphere that makes me feel at home no matter what city I’m in. That’s why I feel so strongly about this issue. SC is a great place. I’m just trying to make it even better. I want a state that is known for its neighborly waves, not its ranking as the 8th highest state for HIV rates.
I love my state. And I’m glad that SC has control over its own school curriculum. However, something needs to change. The statistics show that Ab-Only-Until-Marriage programs aren’t effective. They’re expensive, inaccurate, and they don’t work. If SC paid me $20,000 to tell blatant lies and I only worked one day a year, I’m sure taxpayers would be very upset with me. So how come no one questions the sex education that embodies those same qualities? Something has to change. That something is the sex education that is being taught across SC. We know what needs to change. But how do we do it? It’s simple really. We spread the message, we distribute information, and we show our legislators that we care about comprehensive sex education because we care about SC. So what are you waiting for?