This blog post is part of a series here at Scarleteen profiling young people worldwide who are activists in some way in the fields of sexuality, sex education and sexual health.
In September of 2012, openly gay footy player Jason Ball started a change.org petition calling on the AFL (Australian Football League, for all you non-Aussies out there) to air anti-homophobia videos during their grand final. They agreed to show the ads from No To Homophobia during the preliminary finals, and since then, Jason has kept very busy speaking to new AFL players about homophobia in sport, becoming an ambassador for national mental health organization Beyond Blue, and leading the 18th Pride March Victoria through Melbourne with his teammates. You can find him on twitter at @jasonball88.
You’ve had a very busy year, getting a lot of attention with your call for the AFL to do more to tackle homophobia. What is it that sparked that activism, that made you decide to do something?
The one thing that gave
Judging from the number of users I see experiencing pregnancy scares on the Scarleteen message boards, particularly from situations besides genital intercourse, you’d think sperm cells were some magical weapon of mass fertilization, powerfully wiggling their way through clothes/towels/fabric, and leaping off hands to impregnate every person around them within a 50 mile radius. Look out for scary sperm! Get outta the way! They're coming right for you! (pun intended)
As a volunteer for Scarleteen, I'm here to tell you none of this is physically possible. It just isn't. As a former laboratory technician at a fertility clinic, having worked directly with sperm and semen (and without having ever gotten pregnant doing so, no less!), I want to tell you why.
Before I continue, a few things I'd like to clarify:
Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.
Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner -- and not just anal or vaginal intercourse -- can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.
This is why we're doing this series at Scarleteen. In it, some of our volunteers share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.
The health center at my university is pretty awesome.
It provides free STI testing days throughout the year. Instead of making an appointment, students and non-students alike can just walk in, check in, and waitRead more...
Scarleteen's users are diverse, as are the reasons they find us, and the issues they bring to us. For some, the needs are as basic as needing to know how and when to use a condom or a hormonal contraceptive, or learning the names and functions of body parts. Some want help figuring out if sex with another person is something they want or not, or are ready for; some need help learning to negotiate or assert their sexual or interpersonal wants and needs. Many just need to know, from especially from someone who doesn't want anything from them, that it's okay for them to have sexual feelings and a sexuality. Many users like these have access to sexual healthcare, supportive and caring families or communities, and haven't experienced great sexual or interpersonal traumas. For those users, we're often something they need, but not something they can't manage without. We're a valuable helper, but not the only help they've got to draw on.
Some of our users come to Scarleteen just once or twicRead more...
As you may know, we started our major fundraising drive for the year this month. Our goal, for the year, is to raise just over $40,000 from new donors in order to best sustain, support and grow our organization.
Since we began the drive on the 13th, you've helped us raise just over $5,000. If the donors who chose to give monthly all keep that up for the year, that will get us to $8,500 of the total funds we need. Hooray!
We're still a long way off from raising what we need, though.
Here to help save the day, longtime Scarleteen donor, supporter and superhero (and also kickass science author) Stephen Luntz has offered a $2,000 match for funds we can raise from today at 9AM PST, through Thursday, February 28th, at 9 AM PST.
That's just $2,000 we need your help generating in the next 48 hours in order to grab those matching funds.
(We won't actually grab them. We'll take them only when offered and then say thank you politely.)
Check out this new infographic from Jacob, a volunteer at SRead more...
We sometimes deal with a tough situation in direct service: a user comes in, and reports having contracted an STI; a user who also isn't a first-time user of our site or services, and who, in a previous conversation with us about pregnancy risks, blew off also talking about STIs and safer sex and turned down help we offered to them to reduce their STI risks, not just pregnancy risks.
When this happens, a person like this will usually be very upset about having contracted an STI, often angry, and even mystified about how this happened to them. Of course, we're rarely mystified and also are not usually surprised this happened, since we already identified risks of STIs when we were talking with them in the past, which is why we brought the importance of safer sex up with them in the first place.
This is one of those things where there's no joy or pride in being right: it stinks to be right about someone getting any kind of illness and being unhappy. Even though the majority of STIs are tRead more...
And on ice! (No, not on ice, sorry. That'd sure be fun, though.) "Scarleteen Live" is something we think is pretty exciting, even without ice skates and kooky costumes, but probably isn't quite as exciting as it sounds, either. There aren't even any song and dance numbers. (Yet.)
Here's what this is all about, for real.
Just below the Scarleteen 101 section on the left-hand sidebar over there, you should see something new today that looks like this:
Or, you'll see an image that looks like that one, but which says it's offline, and makes a sad-face because, as you know, someone not being online to help when you want is a bummer.
That's our brand new, shiny, live site helpline. It's a web-based, real-time chat system our visitors can now use to be able to connect with one of our staff or volunteers directly for quick help.
What kind of help? If you're new to the site, and are having any trouble navigating, or have any kind of technical problem using the site, yoRead more...
Although the implant is a long-acting method of contraception, it does only last three years, so eventually it needs to be removed entirely or replaced. For me, the decision to get mine replaced was kind of a no-brainer. Everything that factored into my original choice was still there: my desire not to have children at the moment, the other medications I'm on, the very high effectiveness rate, the fact that it requires pretty much no effort on my part. Plus, after three years, I knew what the side effects would be like for me, and in general, those have been pretty minimal. One of the main reasons people get the implant removed is irregular bleeding or spotting, and while I definitely don't have a regular cycle anymore, I'm not bleeding constantly and I've had only a little bit of spotting on occasion.
That's it, just what seems -- to me, anyway -- to be a relatively simple request I'm putting out to the universe today, because it's something that comes up almost constantly in work and discussions around sexuality, something where I've grown impatient waiting for change.
I'm asking what I'm asking as an advocate for survivors, as a survivor myself and as someone deeply invested in sex being something truly beneficial for people, and which we only define as something people willingly, wantedly, choose to do when they do choose it.
Please stop calling rape sex (especially if you are not talking about your own experiences with sexual abuse and assault, where those experiences are things you yourself choose to call sex). Please stop calling rape or other kinds of sexual violence things like "unwanted sex."
Please stop saying someone engaged in sex when you know it was abuse or assault, suspect that it was, or just don't know if everyone involved was consenting. Please stop asking whRead more...
Here’s something that happened to me last month: I got asked my preferred gender pronoun.
For those who aren’t familiar, this is a thing that tends to happen a lot at queer-positive conferences and gatherings these days. When you go around the room at the beginning of a session, you’ll say your name, something about yourself, maybe answer an ice-breaker question, and state your preferred gender pronoun.
It can be he/him, she/her, they/their, or one of the newer invented substitutes like ze or hir. Or, you can say you’d prefer to be referred to by your name.
I first encountered this tradition in 2011, I think. Maybe 2010. Most likely it was at a United States Student Association conference. The not-so-radical-anymore idea behind it is that respecting people’s gender identity is important, and volunteering your identity can be awkward, and misgendering someone is hurtful. So rather than guessing, or asking individual people to speak up if their preferences are non-standard or non-obvioRead more...