girls + activism = more sex ed

My first regular job teaching sex ed was in the South Bronx. Though I’d lived in New York for a number of years by that point, I still wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I knew that the Bronx had burned in the seventies, and was hit hard by violence, HIV, poverty and teen pregnancy. But I wasn’t sure what this would mean for my kids on a day-to-day basis.

After four years of teaching there, I saw that while these were real issues for a lot of the teens I worked with, they weren’t necessarily defined by them.

I was reminded of this when I read about the Bronx based Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). WEDC is an anti-poverty organization. In addition to a lot of other projects, they run an after-school program for girls called STEP. After-school for these girls wasn’t just about milk and cookies and homework time. Recently, the group worked on a community empowerment program, and collected over 200 signatures on a petition demanding that their middle school provide comprehensive sex education.

The girls also managed to drum up media coverage, and they met with City Council to testify that sex education should be mandatory in the classroom. Pretty impressive for a group of 12- and 13-year-olds!

If you’re bummed out by the state of sex ed in your school, but feel like there’s nothing you can do take a second to check out the STEP girls’ website for inspiration.

On the site, the girls cover the importance of sex ed, provide a list of resources, and tackle media messages and song lyrics. (Make sure to read their take on Lil Wayne’s "I don’t use rubbers, and I don’t plan no kids girl / I don’t want your number, I want your trouble, in ya skins girl.").

I’d be interested in hearing what you think about teen activism. Do you think it could be an effective way to get better sex ed where you live?

Posted in: Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed
  • candice

    In my school or just wherever like a center or something we don't have any sex ed helping teens these days.some adults don't even consider talking about it cause they think if they talk about it with us then we would get courious and go do it.but they don't relize couriosity is the whole reason of us questioning them.

  • kristin

    I think comprehensive sex education should be taught in every school in the world. It's important for everyone to know about their own bodies and about others. They need to know about all of the issues revolving around sexuality because one day they will probably partake in them. When I was growing up I didn't really have a whole lot of information thrown at me. I remember in 5th grade the teachers split the guys and girls up into different rooms and we talked about issues revolving around us and the opposite sex. Mainly it was all about puberty because we were at that time of growing up and changing. I had so many questions and I still have so many questions, and I'm 21 years old. I didn't really get a whole lot thrown at me and I really wish I did. I know after 5th grade I had some information about STI's given to me and a little on contraception but that was mainly about the condom. I'm taking a class called Human Sexuality at my local college and I think this is probably the first time I have ever had the information that I needed. I had so many questions about all sorts of topics and I finally got them answered after so many years of wondering. I really don't think abstinence only sex education is all that effective because there are so many people that are just having sex anyways cause they don't care. They don't know the consequences and they don't know how to use the contraception effectively. Thats why so many people are getting STI's. If we knew more about how to have sex safely then it we wouldn't have all these problems that we have today. I have my morals and have kept them because my parents brought me up well. The little information I had about STI's and the effects they have on people really made me steer away from having sex. Plus I don't want to get pregnant right now because there is absolutely no way I could be able to support it. I can barely support my own self, being a college student and all… Everyone needs to get the word out that comprehensive education be taught everywhere because everyone needs to know in depth information about sexuality and the topics revolved around it.

  • casey

    i think that teen activism is vital in fighting for comprehensive sex ed in schools. if politicians and teachers think that we dont care then they wont care as much either. we need to show adults that we can handle this information and we desperately need it too. adults have a over simplified idea of the teen age experience, they dont know what we need all of the time. sadly, however they are the ones who will make the final decisions about these things, we're going to have to tell them what we want to get from our sex ed classes

  • Tasha

    Ive had a good sex ed. I live in the UK, and i think they did it well. They didn't even mention abstinence, but went through all the facts and told us that it was our decision to do it when we want, if we wanted to.
    I consider myself lucky to have had such a good sex education and would like to urge anyone who isn't getting what every young teen NEEDs, they should fight for it.
    (the STEP girls' website has some interesting signs and info) 😀

  • Blake

    We don't have any sex ed over here in the South (abstinence only) and I'm sure if there was more activism, things would be much better and you'd see less African-American girls run in the streets pregnant and hear less stories of AIDS-related deaths in town.