No person is a blank slate that life just happens at. In relationships, young people learn how to act and what to say from their families, parents, other adults around them, and from other young people. Young people should learn about sexuality from scientifically research sources. It can change the world when children and youth learn and participate in teaching others about emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.
Ways Youth Engagement in Sex Education Happens
Youth as Trainers — When young people take train-the-trainer courses in sex ed, and then become engaged in training their peers, younger people and adults, they can be powerful agents of social change. In addition to learning facilitation skills, young people in these roles also develop their knowledge of human relations, community building and social interactions that can help them throughout life.
Teach-Ins — Resistant school principals, school boards, community leaders, parents and others can make it hard for young people to learn sex education. By holding teach-ins, youth can teach their peers and younger people about the basics, allowing communities to make powerful decisions that empower everyone, not just adults.
Participatory Action Research — Studying the issues they are directly involved in, youth researchers can examine, research and otherwise explore the topics, issues and actions affecting their peers and communities in ways adults cannot. Participatory Action Research also engages youth in creating and enacting powerful responses to their findings. In the area of sex education, their findings can examine many issues and result in countless actions that can change the world.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Sex Education
Education — In order to learn about sex education, young people need to become educated. Every young person in every community around the entire world should have meaningful, substantive and empowering experiences learning about the issues that will directly affect them for the rest of their lives.
Opportunities — Engaging young people in sex education and in teaching others about sex education requires opportunities to learn and teach. Either youth can create these opportunities for themselves, or youth/adult partnerships can be formed to create opportunities across generations.
Inspiration — Oftentimes, communities wait to teach sex education until they experience catastrophic outcomes, including deaths from HIV/AIDs and mass disease transmissions. Instead of looking to those occurrences for inspiration, young people can learn indirect stories, experience powerful teaching, and engage in meaningful activities that move them to expand their knowledge and skills through sex education.
You Might Like…
- Youth, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault
- Youth and Gender Equity
- Youth as Advocates
- Youth and School Reform
- Youth Activist Network (YAN)
- “Sex education” by Planned Parenthood
- “Youth Activism for Sex Education” by Adrian Nava, Scarlett Jimenez for the National Partnership for Women and Families
- “Sex Education Resources for Advocates” by Advocates for Youth
- “YAN 101 Sex Ed Training Modules” by Youth Activist Network
- Scarleteen – The most youth-accessible comprehensive website out there about sexual information for young people. Providing “sex education for the real world,” including information on birth control, safer sex, STDs, masturbation, anatomy, sexual orientation and identification, and communication between sexual and romantic partners.
- Sex Etc. A website by teens for teens; this site helps youth become sexually healthy people and avoid pregnancy and disease during their teenage years.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in the Arts in your community or organization, contact us.