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.