The French have a saying: “Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait” which roughly translates as “If only youth knew, if only age could”. It’s a take on the world which is definitely on the side of “glass half-empty”. If I’ve translated it correctly, it’s saying that the young know nothing and the old can’t do anything, so we’re all doomed. Which is rubbish.
At the end of September, I enjoyed one of the most invigorating gatherings in my career at IPPF. Summits, conventions and conferences often offer participants little more than an extended near-death experience, but to my delight this was lively, dynamic, challenging, provocative, positive and full of hope.
It was staged by IPPF and its member association in Norway (Sex og Politikk) with support of the Norwegian government. It was titled the Emerging Leaders’ Summit and it brought together 40 people, all under 30.
Together, they set out the biggest challenges limiting the lives of young people in the 21st century. Together, they agreed on the action they would take and formulated a “Roadmap for the 21st Century”.
They weren’t focusing solely to a sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda. It’s long been IPPF’s contention that ensuring that young people are informed about sex and sexuality and have open access to the services they need is about far more than personal health.
Knowing about one’s body, understanding about one’s rights, learning about how relationships work, discovering that sex is about shared pleasure, and becoming aware that sex – in the profoundest way – is based on respect and tolerance. These lessons have ramifications far beyond any individual relationships. They are lessons which, once learned, turn young people into mature and active citizens.
Read the rest at The Guardian here.
While Scarleteen serves an international readership, we’re based in the United States, and our country of residence greatly impacts our organization and around half of the 4-5 million users who come to Scarleteen each year. The Presidential Election is here, so it’s time again for those of us at Scarleteen to do what we can to help our users best participate in this important and big part of the democratic process.
Many of you are first-time voters: welcome to your right to vote (sorry you had to wait so long!) and we hope you’ll exercise it. We provide this nonpartisan guide each time around to best help you make your own choice in who you vote for for president. In it, you’ll find links to the major candidates and parties, a basic rundown of the major candidates’ positions and records on central issues, some listed supporters and endorsements for the candidates, and more information on where they stand on issues central to what we do here at Scarleteen.
We suggest you take a look through these materials, then spend some time looking at the party platforms and each of the candidate’s websites, and keep up with the news as best you can. Checking out your favorite political groups and organizations, the ones you respect, and seeing what they have to say about the candidates is also a great help in making voting decisions. This guide is jam-packed with links that will lead you to more information on the candidates, so if you just keep clicking, you’re going to become an expert in no time. Even if you’re not yet of age to vote, we think it’s a grand idea to inform yourself: you can use this information in talking to your siblings, parents or grandparents whose vote will impact you.
Any time we vote, we don’t just vote for ourselves as individuals, but for all our fellow citizens, even those who are radically different than we are. In alignment with our core values here at Scarleteen — things like compassion, fairness, inclusion, equality and the health and well-being of the 100% — we feel that how you vote is as important as if you vote, and would implore you to be civic-minded in your voting choices.
They’re still young and they’re still not “entitled,” as so many of their parents’ generation are wont to declare them. They are the Millennials; they are Echo Boomers; they are Generation Y.
If entitlement means a feeling that whatever I want, I have the right to take – regardless of whom the taking is from, we should ask ourselves who really acts as if they are entitled.
Or, as New York Times columnist Timothy Egan puts it, “If anyone should be complaining about deficits, it should be the 20-somethings who will have to pay for all those meds-popping boomers moving into the comfort of Medicare and Social Security.”
As a member of a demographically insignificant generation (Generation X is one third the size of Gen. Y and one fourth the size of the Baby Boom generation), I’ve watched Millenials (most of whom are children of the Boomers) all around me demonstrate maturity beyond anything my peers and I were capable of at their ages. I find them to be humbler, quieter and more responsible than my own generation in the face of a far more challenging world than we inherited. Meanwhile, their societal inheritance is being stolen even as you read this.
Read the rest here.
As youth rights supporters and theorists, the methods, power, and sometimes very institution of parenting comes into question a lot. The home can be the most oppressive place for a young person. We’re not content to merely sit back and assume parents always have good intentions. The “sanctity” of parental rights can and MUST be challenged.
That is not at all to say parenting isn’t EXTREMELY difficult. I’m not a parent, though many youth rights supporters are and thus are familiar with the millions of complicated little things about it. But with such an extremely difficult job, full of anxieties and uncertainties, there can be a tendency to stick to what’s “tried and true”, no matter how actually harmful the “tried and true” may be. But even with acknowledging it’s a near impossible job, due to the inherent nature of worrying for a cherished person as well as social and economic issues just adding to the challenges, it still must be said that certain kinds of treatment are just plain unacceptable, that the importance of certain “results” in raising children should be questioned, that the difficulty of a parent’s job doesn’t mean their children’s basic human rights can go right out the window.
So I’d like to make a couple of shout-outs here.
Read the rest of this great entry from Katrina at the NYRA (one of our very favorite orgs) here.
Just a reminder on where we stand with this as an org:
I hate, hate, hate that phrase. Nearly everywhere I go or look as a young adult sexuality educator anymore, I run into it incessantly.
Let me be clear: I don’t hate doing all that we can, to help people of every age to avoid pregnancies or parenting they do not want or do not feel ready for. I’m so glad to do that, and it’s a big part of my job at Scarleteen and elsewhere when I work as a sexuality and contraception educator and activist.
I don’t hate doing what we can to help those who want help to determine when the best possible time is for them to become pregnant and parent (for those women who want to do so at all), and to do what we can to be realistic about pregnancy and parenting when counseling those who are considering either or both. In addition, I’m totally in support of making sure young people know all their options with the whole of their lives; aren’t choosing to become pregnant or parent at a time that’s too soon for them to both discover and reach their own goals and dreams, or too soon for them to be able to learn and provide good care of themselves. All good stuff, all terribly important, and all things that many young people seek help with which we can provide.
I’m on board with parents of teens or twentysomethings who don’t want to pay the costs for their teen’s pregnancy or the child of their teen, or don’t want a new infant in the house. I’m not down with any young person assuming that their parent should automatically be a co-parent, an instant babysitter, or will bankroll a pregnancy. Co-parenting with anyone is something to be discussed and negotiated, not assumed. When we’re talking about consensual sex, if a young person has the maturity to have sex, to have sex which carries a risk of pregnancy, and to consider parenting themselves, I think it’s reasonable and appropriate to also then require the maturity to discuss and negotiate any contributions they want from their own parents with pregnancy or parenting.
I certainly understand parents wanting their youth to be able to have a childhood and adolescence that is not fraught with more responsibility and stress than a young person is able to manage, or which is likely to cause them unhappiness: that’s plain old love, and I don’t see a thing wrong with that.
I understand wanting children in the world to have parents who are capable of parenting, and for those children to have their most basic needs met. I worked in early childhood education for years before moving on to run Scarleteen, and I continue to feel very strongly about quality care and parenting for children. I also came from two young, unprepared parents, so I know firsthand what some of the downsides and struggles can feel like to a child.
I’m also absolutely on the bus when it comes to all of us, doing all we can to make our soundest decisions around pregnancy and parenting, and the idea that we should all be held accountable when it comes to only choosing to parent if and when we think we can be parents who can provide what children need. It is in part because I am on board with that that I am 39 and childfree, despite being someone who has always liked kids a whole lot, to the degree that I’ve been teaching my whole adult life. Part of why I also [have worked] at an abortion clinic is because I strongly support the right of every woman to decide if a given time is or is not right for her to remain pregnant, and to have the option to decide a given time is not right.
(For the record, I do not understand that “we shouldn’t have to pay taxes that support other people’s children,” stuff. I have to pay taxes for all kinds of things I don’t support or like, but I’ve never had a problem with the idea that some of my income goes to help and support the children of the world. It’s one of the few things my taxes go to that I do feel good about. I have chosen not to reproduce myself, however, I’m of the mind that we all share some collective responsibility for caring for everyone else on our planet. So that one? I don’t get or sympathize with.)
Here’s what I’m not okay with.
Read the rest here.
On a work trip I took a few weeks ago, I was at a higher end hotel that is patronized mostly by older professionals. I stayed there a few days and took particular notice of how cordial the front desk staff was. Smiles, stupid jokes, holding the door open, the whole shabang. On the day of my departure, I approached the desk and requested a shuttle to the airport. I was shocked to be met with a scolding and condescending lecture about how the shuttle was not available because I had not notified them in advance (regardless of the fact that when I was being picked up from the airport, they did not require a shuttle reservation). With a finger wag and a frown, the staff told me that I would have to make another arrangement. As I walked to the other side of the lobby to call a cab, I faintly overheard one clerk make a comment about irresponsible kids.
Irresponsible kids? How is it irresponsible to assume that I just need to ask for a shuttle when that is what I did on my way in? And even if it was irresponsible of me, it is not the front desk’s job to scold me for my mistake as if I am their child and not an adult customer. I expect the same courtesy that was being given to all of the other guests, every single one of which was visibly older, who visited their hotel.
Read the rest from the awesome Laci Green here.