Today is World Sexual Health Day.
At YouthCO, We love that we get to do the important work of talking to our peers about sex every day. Even better, we have these conversations in factual and honest ways that resist shame and stigma, colonizing ideas about sexual and gender identity, and assumptions that we are all heterosexual, cisgender, and HIV-negative. The goal of our work in sex education is to support our peers in getting the information we need to make decisions that are right for us.
Our workshops include conversations about accessing birth control, condoms, testing, and treatment, and communicating with our partners about how we want to make safety part of our relationships. We also talk about pleasure, consent, and healthy relationships too. Stigma often comes up when we have these conversations because we know that stigma is a barrier to sexual health and well-being. We also get lots of opportunities to hear from our peers about their lives, and how social norms and values, peer pressure, and self-esteem impact sexual decision-making and well-being.
The youth we connect with through our programs and our workshops want to have conversations about how to support their friends, how to navigate new relationships, and where to get reliable information about their sexual wellbeing. Sex education is about much more than our body parts, reducing new diagnoses of HIV or STIs or minimizing the number of pregnancies that are unplanned.
The theme of this year’s World Sexual Health Day is “Sexual Health for a Fairer Society”. Whether it is the conversations we are having in our workshops about reasons why we may choose to have sex or not to have sex, how HIV and Hep C can and cannot be passed between people, the advocacy work we are doing around pre-exposure prophylaxis, and ending the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, our sex ed reflects our value of anti-oppression. Many kinds of work are needed for our society to be more equitable, and we strive to do education and programming that moves us toward that goal.
Happy World Sexual Health Day from the YouthCO Team!