01 December 2012

let’s talk about sex.

And by sex I mean sex education.

Seeing as today is World AIDS Day, I figure it might be an appropriate time to (finally) mention the work I’ve been doing with Advocates for Youth this school year.  Advocates for Youth champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.  Back in June I applied to be a part of the Youth Leadership Council of the Alabama Alliance for Healthy Youth, which is a partnership between Advocates for Youth, AIDS Alabama, and the Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (man, that’s a lot of organization names in one sentence!).  We advocate for sex education reform in Alabama, as our poor little state is in bad shape.  For those of you who are statistically minded, here’s a snapshot of the current state of things:
Fun fact - we also have the highest number of sexually active teens in the nation.  Alabama is also one of 18 states receiving a D on the Population Institute’s Report Card on Reproductive Health and Rights; if you’re interested, you can check your own state’s sexual health grade here.  The United States as a whole earns a C- when it comes to sexual health.  Yikes.

I understand that sex can be an awkward and taboo thing discuss, especially in places like blogland where people tend to shy away from more controversial topics out of a desire to be well-liked.  Whatever, you guys.  Sex happens.  It does.  And regardless of your religious beliefs, it’s important to recognize that this is something that needs to be talked about.  It needs to be addressed in schools, because abstinence-only sex education curricula DO.NOT.WORK.  Because hey, guess what – teens are still going to have sex, even when you tell them not to.  But with abstinence education, they don’t know how to do it safely.  So then pregnancy happens.  And disease.  And next thing you know, our country is spending upwards of $10 BILLION each year on costs associated with teen pregnancy.  Yes, that’s billion with a B.  Additionally, abstinence-only sex education is not inclusive of LGBT students – something which I had never considered before getting involved with Advocates.  But then again, my high school health class didn’t even cover sex ed at all, so who am I to know anything about how this works?

This post kind of took on a different direction as I started writing, but I’m just going to roll with it.  I’m sure most of you don’t find this work as fascinating as I do, and that’s fine; I just hope that, if you read all the way through this post, maybe you have something new to think about.

5 comments:

  1. I don't understand how people can say abstinence only education is the way to go when such stats are the reality of our country. And then you look at places like Germany and France who have teen pregnancy rates 4 TIMES LOWER then United States and see that they teach practical sex education that actually educations teens and young adults about sex. Drives me crazy how people ignore the truth of the situation to satisfy their religious or political beliefs.
    I'm with you on this one. It's totally ridiculous but very interesting how most of the country views sex.

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  2. MAN I wish I was half the person you are NOW, much less when I was a college student! You are such an inspiration!
    Abstinence-only sex education is one of my biggest rant subjects/pet peeves! I believe that education is necessary regardless of morals, religion, beliefs, etc. Have you seen The Education of Shelby Knox? It's a great documentary about one girl's fight for sex education in Lubbock. It's dated, of course, but the message stands true.
    Also, thanks for getting a great classic stuck in my head ... Salt-n-Pepa Foreva!

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  3. yes girl! good for you for doing this work. good for you for caring. and good for you for speaking up, especially when you know it may not vibe with every single one of your readers. education on everything is the only way humans can make smart decisions. sometimes i think we shy away from learning/knowing about things that are uncomfortable bc it prompts change within you - stats, truths, etc of things that can't be unseen - and change is scary.. but not knowing? hiding? turning a blind eye? beyond scary.

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  4. i totally support what you're doing. i think the sex education most kids gets is horrific and sets them up for making some bad choices.

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  5. Thank you for approaching this issue with such ease and clarity. Parents do NEED to know how to coach their teens. I wish someone had come alongside of me during high school. You go girl!

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