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This is a guest post from sex educator Charlie Glickman, part of the month-long blogathon to help support Scarleteen!
Imagine, for a moment, what the world would be like if we took the same approach to money as we do to sex. Imagine trying to hide all evidence of money from children, telling them that it’s not something they should know about. Imagine shaming them for asking questions about it, for expressing an interest in it, and for wanting to experiment with it. Imagine that you never explained how budgets work, or how to balance a checkbook, or how to pay for anything. Then, imagine that when they turn 18, handing them a credit card and saying “good luck with that.”
In essence, that’s what we do with sex.
Would you be surprised if those young adults didn’t know how to responsibly handle money? Would you be shocked if they ended up in crisis because they didn’t have the skills to take care of themselves? Would you think that their parents and schools had done their job?
If you answered “no” to these questions, then maybe you can also ask yourself why it should be any different when it comes to sex. The worst thing that’s likely to happen in my imaginary scenario is someone’s credit rating plummets and they declare bankruptcy at 18. When it comes to sex, the risks are much worse.
Over and over, the research is clear. When we try to “protect” children by creating secrecy, silence and shame around sex, they’re at more risk for sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy, and sexual assault. When we give them age-appropriate language and tools they need to understand sex, we keep them safer and we help them keep themselves safer.
Fortunately, Scarleteen does just that. Since 1998, it has been the go-to site for free, inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and one-on-one support for millions. They’ve also talked about the pleasures and benefits of sex, offered advice for young people without telling them what to do, and have never avoided the difficult topics.
They manage to do this without any federal, state or local funding and have a much smaller budget than many organizations that offer less support and fewer resources. Plus, Heather Corinna, the founder of the site, is a dedicated sex educator and she’s fantastic.
Since Scarleteen relies on donations rather than governmental funding, they’re able to offer accurate information without being swayed by the shifting political trends. This allows them to host blog posts, informational articles, and over 5000 one-on-one or group conversations on their message boards in an average year. As if that wasn’t enough, their goals for the next couple of years include creating a database of sex-positive medical professionals, offer stipends to their volunteers, improve their site, and create a fund for young people in need of reproductive health and other needed services.
To make all this happen, they need a minimum annual operating budget of $70,000 and the revenue to support it, including a minimum of $20,000 in private donations alone each year. That is an amazing value and I can’t think of another organization that does so much with so little. If you want to see better sex-positive information and support for youth, your donation to Scarleteen will do more than anything else you could do. Visit the site for more info on how to make it happen. And while you’re there, check out what they offer. You’ll be amazed.