Let’s Talk about sex. . . . and youth . . . . and let’s make it funny . . . . Fo Realz!
We’ve been having sex since forever and we still haven’t managed to find a way to talk about it — especially to young people. It’s awkward, clumsy and uncomfortable (the language, not the sex). But it doesn’t have to be, and not having the conversation is causing more harm than good. Young people are surrounded by sex and thoughts about sex in the media, in school hallways, in their pants … we still see the squirms, the red cheeks, the awkward giggles and uncomfortable silence. The reality is that young people are having sex or thinking about having sex and they aren’t getting the tools and information to navigate this part of their lives. So help us give it to them!
Forward Together Youth is working on a campaign to make sure students in Oakland, CA have the information and resources they need to make the best decisions for themselves about sex, sexuality, gender and their bodies. The campaign is called Sex Ed the City and the goal is to get comprehensive sex education into their schools and also get the community talking about sex in a healthy way.
The problem: Sex education in California sucks. And here’s why:
Oakland has some of the highest rates of STDs in California.
The teen pregnancy rates are three times that of the national average.
The number of people living with HIV and AIDS in Oakland is through the roof.
Oakland has an unfortunately thriving sex trade industry where the average age of entering for young women is 12 years old.
The LGBTQ high school students in Oakland that we have surveyed and talked to shared that homophobia and heterosexism is potent at their schools. One of our focus group participants shared “Being gay, I had to fight my way through school instead of getting my education like everybody else. I was violent. Even though going to school was supposed to be for learning.”
Forward Together’s youth program conducted a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project where they surveyed over 500 Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) students and conducted 6 focus groups where they asked students about the sex education they are currently receiving, if any, and what they would like their sex education to look like. You can see the full analysis and results in the Let’s Get it On: Oakland Youth’s New Vision for Sex Ed report. Some of the highlights are that 62% of students surveyed said they did not receive any sex education in the last year and 64% said that they wanted more sex education. 63% of students surveyed said they do not receive sexual heal information for LGBTQ students which by California law the district is required to teach if they are teaching sex ed.
imMEDIAte Justice had the honor of teaming up with these talented Oakland youth to help put their ideas into action. Youth wrote, shot, animated, acted, and directed three films to help get their message out. Stay Tuned for the video launch online!