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Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

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Heather,

I think it’s amazing that you get up in front of groups of people and talk about the site and the issues Scarleteen addresses! For the past few months I have been corresponding with a friend that teaches health and physical education at a local school on a possible rewrite of the curriculum for health classes – mainly the section dealing with sexual education. Recently the proposal was taken to the board meeting to be discussed (likely the first of many meetings) and it was amazing to me to see how uncomfortable a group of adults (almost all of whom have children themselves) were when it came to talking about sex. Almost immediately I saw them begin -for lack of a better term- squirming in their seats. I guess that was when I realized why their curriculum was almost strictly abstinence based.

Our goal right now is to try and come up with a possible list of common misconceptions that would prove to be held even by the board. We’re going to try a survey approach where they write their answers and then we will rout through them and see what we have to work with. From there we’ll kind of point out the facts and hopefully they will understand why it’s so important that the students in their school understand fact as well. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves if this proves not to work so well. I’ve used a lot of the materials from your site for research (properly cited of course) so I just wanted to let you know how amazing you have been for this! As a future teacher – it’s such an awesome thing to be assisting with this curriculum issue – and for now I’m very much a “backseat role – getting the facts person” as he is using this as a learning experience for me. I have definitely become very interested in how sexual education (or lack thereof in some cases) plays a role in other schools and with diverse student groups (especially Special Ed – as that’s my major). Of course at some point I’d love to help out at Scarleteen so if you ever need anything I'm around – such an amazing site! Thanks for everything.

[ 02-25-2008, 08:17 PM: Message edited by: Stephanie_1 ]

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Stephanie: that sounds fantastic! Good for you!

I've really appreciated the way you've been participating here. I'm taking a rare almost-day-off today, but I'll get in touch with you within the week about volunteering. Thanks for offering!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68212 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

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Heather, when you’re talking to groups do you ever get that feeling that you could talk for six years and they’re not going to listen to a thing you say? We had a lunch meeting with the principal and vice superintendent today. The two of us met for a few hours yesterday to do some prep work on the main points we wanted to focus on and came with folders of information and pages upon pages of statistics. It’s so frustrating when we did all of this work and every reply they gave was along the lines of, “Well it’s always been our policy…” and of course their famous “Can’t you see it should be the parent’s decision what they tell their child about sex and what they don’t?” We’ve collected curriculums from other area schools and some information from students about what they want to learn and why. So far I know we have one supporter for sure (she came up to us after the meeting and mentioned that she had no idea her daughter was sexually active until about a week ago when she came to her with a positive pregnancy test).

We brought a laptop with us and the manager let us use their internet connection. I brought up your website and had the two of them search around some on their own then we kind of took them through some of the parts that we’d used as references for our research. They asked a lot of questions (which right now I’m glad for in hopes that their questions and answers will lead them to understanding how important the information is). I hope you don’t mind I showed them how to get an e-mail to you if they had any technical questions about the site itself (Since really who would know better than you) – though from the e-mail I got recently it seems they’d rather ask us the questions. How do you start breaking down that brick wall standing between you and the people you’re trying to talk to? Does it ever make you feel like that?

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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You know, I really don't: not like that, anyway. But what I have that you don't yet is age and a lot of years of experience. In other words, likely some of what you're experiencing is ageism because you're a young speaker.

I was a very politically active young person, too, and also was doing things at a young age that a lot of my peers weren't. I found it actually helped to kind of put ageism in the forefront of people's minds by occasionally saying things like, "Clearly I am young, but..." and then following with WHY I was passionate about whatever it was, how I had educated myself, how informed I was, and how important it was that I was heard as a younger person. And in your case, you're speaking FOR yourself and your peers about choices adults are making for you, so that's a strong point I'd encourage you to hit on. In other words, your age is a lot of WHY you are the expert about your own needs. No adult in the room has ever been a young person at the time that you are. And that's a big part of why you want them to reconsider their policies anyway: this isn't their adolescence. They need to hear from people your age because otherwise, they're not going to be able to assess your needs well.

In this case, you also might want to do just a little bit of digging and hit on all the studies and polls done showing that a majority of parents DO want comprehensive sex education in the schools to help support what they're doing at home. If they bring up that they feel parents don't, how about suggesting a teen/parent meeting to get all that voiced? Or how about drumming up some letters from parents who want sound sex ed?

It's good they'd rather ask you the questions, honestly. Now it just sounds like you need to get them to take your answers more seriously.

[ 03-02-2008, 03:16 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68212 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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By the by, I was going to blog this later today, but this might help lend you some inspiration: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/02/29/iowa-teens-make-case-for-comprehensive-sex-ed

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68212 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

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Thanks for the article link. I read it before leaving for a meeting on campus. During the meeting I missed a call from the superintendent around 8pm. He left a message on my voicemail saying, "Ms (---), Although I'm not allowed to officially say this to you until Tuesday ... the board members have taken an unofficial vote - and congratulations. We are to be kept informed and the final product will need to be approved, but I think we've made the right decision for all. You may be a difficult one, but as I see you’ll be graduating with a teaching degree in about a year and a half. I expect that my schools will be receiving an application for employment? The field needs more people that cause a bit of commotion (but if you tell the other’s that I’ll deny ever speaking so). Looking forward to future discussions and I’ll be watching for that resume within the next couple of years.” I was kind of shocked with the turn around, but totally excited. I’d love to know what changed their minds – but I’m not going to push my luck there. I guess every once in a while it helps to be a consistent pain in someone’s rear. You and your site have been so helpful. Thanks for all of your insight!

[ 03-02-2008, 09:13 PM: Message edited by: Stephanie_1 ]

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Kudos to you, Stephanie! That's fantastic!

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68212 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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