Scarleteen is one of the world’s most respected and valued resources for sexuality education, both online and offline. We play a very important role in the lives of young people.
In 2012, as is typical for us most years, we served more than five million people internationally, most between the ages of 16 and 21.
We helped them navigate emotions, desires and pressures they faced. We helped them have better sex and healthier relationships. We helped them prevent unintended pregnancies. We helped them heal from assault and abuse. We helped them to better understand their bodies, their hearts and their minds, and helped them to better care for all of those parts of who they are. We helped them come out to parents and friends, and to better communicate with many different people in their lives about sex and sexuality. We helped them get through hard times, and helped them become even more amazing than they already are. We helped them through their adolescence and emerging adulthood, particularly around one of those most complex parts of both: their sexuality.
We were here for them, and want to remain here for them. But to make that happen, we need you to be here for us.
We served those five million young people last year, in all of those ways and more, on a budget of $45,000. Not four and a half million dollars. Not four hundred and fifty thousand. Just forty-five thousand dollars.
For every dollar we had to work with, we helped more than a hundred people. Most accessed the thousands of pieces of accessible, original, progressive content in our archives. Some talked with us directly, asking one question and getting one, sometimes life-changing, answer. Others engaged with us in conversations, based on their expressed needs, for days, weeks or months. (Some we’ve been talking with for years.) Some used our message boards or other channels to get peer support, having conversations about sensitive subjects in a safe space. Some use our growing database to find in-person services, or got a personal referral to in-person services they needed from us via our direct services. Some benefit from the face-to-face outreach we do. Some use what we offer on our social media channels to interact and expand their sexuality education, or to find other credible, reliable places to explore these topics. We’re sure many will now also use our new live service to connect with us for help in 2013.
We also served fellow educators, healthcare providers, parents and other youth allies and advocates with information and support they needed to work with and support youth themselves. Scarleteen remains, as it has been since we first started in the late nineties, a widely acclaimed example of ongoing excellence in sex education.
And we did all of that at a total cost of less than a penny for each person we served. That’s an incredible feat, and we’re pretty proud of ourselves for doing it, particularly since it makes us the most cost-effective sexuality education and support service for young people — maybe for people of any age — there is.
As impressive as it is, we can’t go on this way forever. Our current budget doesn’t give us the stability we need to keep going at this level, and it certainly doesn’t give us the ability to grow in the ways that the young people we serve need us to.
That’s where you come in.
Click here to read the rest of this important fundraising appeal from us.
As we mention in the appeal, we not only know that most of our young users and readers don’t have the means to donate, we don’t think you should have to. We feel essential health information like we offer should be free for young people. But if you can give, we could use your help. If you can’t, just doing what you can to help get our appeal far and wide is a great way to pitch in for Scarleteen right now. Sliding this into the hands of an older adult or two — or more! — who you know cares about young people and their sexual well-being could wind up getting us exactly what we need, so you can keep getting what you need from us. Thanks! :)
Patsy Niklas is someone I consider myself privileged to know in person. Until recently, she worked as the program manager for YEAH (Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS) in Melbourne, coordinating volunteer training and taking care of the organisation’s social media.
Now she works with the Foundation for Young Australians on their Young People Without Borders project, helping young Australians get involved in volunteering and activism. In addition to all that, she hosts a weekly show about sex and relationships on Melbourne’s youth-run radio station, SYN. You can follow the awesomeness that is Patsy on twitter at @apatsy.
(Note: This interview was done while Patsy was still working for YEAH, so it focuses on her work there rather than her current work with FYA.)
What is it that got you started doing the work that you do? Was there a specific moment or event that prompted you get involved in sex education, or was it more gradual?
I suppose my interest in sex education comes from my experience – during university I was diagnosed with vaginismus, and spent a lot of time hanging out with my pelvic floor physiotherapist as she taught me to relax my vaginal muscles. It kind of surreal having chats with my doctor about politics, feminism and movies with her hand halfway up my clacker, but her sex-positive approach really inspired me to get into the field.
Read the rest of the interview at Scarleteen here!
No surprises here, but we’re so glad this study was done.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students living in rural areas are considerably more likely to feel unsafe in their respective academic environments than their urban counterparts, a new report has found.
Produced by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), “Strengths and Silences: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in Rural and Small Town Schools” documents the experiences of more than 2,300 LGBT students attending schools in rural U.S. regions, using data collected from the 2011 National School Climate Survey.
Among the more eyebrow-raising finds: only 13 percent of rural LGBT students reported that school personnel always intervened or most of the time when they heard anti-gay remarks. A mere 27 percent of students reported having access to a gay-straight alliance at school, compared to 53 percent of urban students. Perhaps not surprising but nonetheless troubling, rural LGBT students who experienced high levels of victimization were less likely to plan to attend college than those who experienced less.
Calling the study “the first in-depth look” at the challenges faced by LGBT teens in rural areas, GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard said in an email statement, “These students are frequently the most isolated — both physically and in terms of access to critical resources and support — and our findings require us to both honor their resilience and respond to their needs.”
“None of my friends want an implant because they’re scared of getting it cut out,” says Estelle, 18. “I don’t use the pill because a friend of mine did and it messed up her periods. The injection? Just … noooooo! My friend had it, and it was horrible – I hate needles. The coil? That’s just weird.”
Estelle relies on condoms for contraception. Although good for lowering the risk of contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infection), condoms are one of the least reliable contraceptive methods available. She’s been having sex for less than a year – has she ever had a conversations with a health professionals about how to avoid getting pregnant?
“I mainly just talk to my friends about it,” she says. Has she ever thought she might be pregnant? “Yes.”
So does she think condoms are safe? “Yes, because I’ve used them and I haven’t got pregnant” is the response.
Because she’s using condoms, Estelle believes she’s taking care and being responsible. She is, as far as she has the information to be. But health professionals say that young people are routinely let down by the education system, their teachers and wider society when it comes to easy access to good-quality contraceptive advice. It means that myths abound, and teenagers fall back on the limited and highly subjective experience of their peer group.
There are numerous problems facing teenagers when they find themselves needing contraceptive advice, not the least of which, says Hollie Kluczewski, national co-ordinator for Sexpression, is that nobody talks about young people having sex in a positive way.
“It’s all very mechanical. ‘Please pee in a pot for a chlamydia test and here’s a condom,’” she says. “If you always talk about sex as a frightening thing – ‘sex kills’ for instance – then you feel bad about having it, and then you’re not going to access services.”
Sexpression is a nationwide organisation of mostly medical students, supported by consultants in sexual health to offer peer support to young people on any sexual health or relationship-related topic. The students volunteer in schools, community centres and youth groups. Kluczewski says that creating an atmosphere where having sex is seen as normal, healthy and positive does not mean “plugging sex”, but being open and honest about the questions that arise.
Read the rest of this great piece at The Guardian here.