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This blog post is the first in 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.
Jessica Danforth is a one-person whirlwind for change. The 26-year-old founder of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, with headquarters in Toronto and Oneida, Wisconsin, she travels around North America and internationally advocating for culturally appropriate sex education in indigenous communities. A self-described “multiracial Two Spirit Indigenous hip-hop feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter,” she’s the executive director of NYSHN, the first chair of the National Indigenous HIV/AIDS Council, a North American co-chair of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and has somehow found the time in her seriously packed schedule to edit two books and pick up several awards for her work along the way. I managed to catch up with her during anRead more...
Here at Scarleteen we view being a sexual person and having a disability, or two or three, as just as normal as any other human variation.
We also know, though, that there isn’t a lot of disability-positive material out there, and even less material related to sex ed.
As an educator and advocate of healthy sexuality, who also has some disabilities, I think it’s pretty important for people to have accurate information, but also to see themselves and their experiences included in the conversations we have about sexuality.
We get a lot of negative, or vague messages about sex, and people with disabilities often get left out of the conversation completely. Both topics—sexuality and disability—have loads of social and psychological complexities around them. So, I’ve put together a list of resources that put people with various kinds of disabilities smack dab back in the middle of the conversation.
You’ll notice that a lot of the information is the same as the standard material on sexRead more...
And here's the second part of our volunteer profiles (part one is here) so all of you can better get to know some of the people we're so lucky to have on Team Scarleteen!
Where do you live? Melbourne, Australia
What year did you first find Scarleteen? 2004
What made you want to volunteer? I went through high school and the first couple years of university completely clueless about pretty much everything to do with sex and relationships. When I finally found Scarleteen and had my own questions answered so brilliantly, with so much information and so much obvious care, I knew I had to help out.
Best thing you ever learned from a Scarleteen user/users: That I can learn from them, really - I'm not always going to be the "expert". When I first started volunteering, I was so worried that it meant I'd have to know *everyRead more...
This summer, Arianna, who is one of our readers, wrote and produced a play at her college about sexuality which also included a fundraising ask for Scarleteen.
This month, Marlena, another Scarleteen user, surprised us with this incredible video she made as part of Project for Awesome, to do what she could to help support what we do and express her experience of what Scarleteen can offer to young people, particularly in a world which is so often unsupportive not just of youth sexuality, but of youth as a whole.
And now, in the last week, yet another fantastic young person began an ingenious self-designed fandom auction to help us here, an effort a host of creative, generous folks have hopped on so far to pitch in with.
We feel the information, support and services we provide for young people are things that young people truly are owed: things they should be able to receive for free from any of us who have the ability to provide them for them. Ideally, our hope is always that olderRead more...
Our volunteers are a huge part of Scarleteen, and I call them superstars with very good reason. They're all incredible.
They play a big part in providing our direct services at our message boards and through our text-in answer service. They are our invaluable collective editorial board: even when volunteers aren't part of writing a piece, every piece we publish goes past at least some of them and their input is priceless. They're an equal part of all conversations about how we run things here, collectively informing and making decisions about how we manage and administrate the site and organization. They are a strong support circle: for all of us as a staff, for each other, for our users. They are a brilliant hivemind: our backend chat channel for staff and volunteers has had some amazing, inspired conversation about the issues we address here at Scarleteen. Most of our volunteers also started out at Scarleteen as users, so they come in with a lot of knowledge about being a user here,Read more...
You probably heard that Siri, the digital assistant on the iPhone 4S, could help someone find Viagra or a sexual escort, but not a family planning clinic, a local pharmacy to get a birth control prescription filled or an abortion provider. Whether that was intended or a glitch, it was understandably very upsetting. At Scarleteen, people can get easy help finding those important services and more through our SMS service, our fully moderated message boards, our growing Find-a-Doc database and, of course, our exhaustive information about contraception, abortion and other reproductive choices, sexual healthcare and so many other sexuality and sexual health topics.
Some people sure paid a lot of money for a tool that didn’t serve them or others well. Scarleteen users get those services and much more for free. We give teens and young adults real people to talk with, for nearly 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, when the thousands of pages of in-depth, thoughtful informaRead more...
Starting in 2006, for NOW's Love Your Body Day, our volunteers, staff and users have been creating haiku about body love and acceptance on our message boards.
It's resulted in some fantastically cool pieces over the years, so we figured we'd share a few of them today as it's that fine day yet again!
dry mouth crooked teeth
smiling never stops despite
himself, filling doubt
Fuller or thinner
My luxurious body
Rejoices to live
"Ew, don't wear tight stuff."
Said to me some years ago
Finally past it
Chopsticks might seem nice
But I walk on prized columns
So show some respect
my eyes, almond-shaped
brown like the good earth, birthright.
my feet are too big?
mom, look at how I stand here
stable on this earth
Big tits, big round bum
but comes with a little tum,
skin hangs loose, with marks
from my belly, he emerged
tiny baby feet
Dark as chocolate,
Warm and kin
I want to focus this entry on the second of the optional questions in the demographics survey. Of the 2,000 participants who completed the survey, this question was answered by 1,530. The question was this: Since using Scarleteen, which of any of the following has changed for you, and by how much?
We saw a couple comments at the end of the survey, from statistics-focused folks, concerned that our aim was to state that whatever improvements users reported were solely because of Scarleteen. That was never the intent.
The intent in asking this questions was primarily to get a picture of what, if any, improvements relevant to what we address here our users were experiencing which may have been due to using our services or may not have been. What we most wanted to see was not the areas where we may have done a good job or where our users already felt things were going very well for them, but areas where it would seem sound to say we currently are not having the impact we'd like to with poRead more...
In my experience it feels like there are two crowds, those who are 'cool' and have frequent sexual activity, hookups etc both in and out of relationships (or at least portray themselves as doing so) and those who are 'pure' who have decided at this point to abstain from sex until marriage, who are frequently Christian or otherwise religious. I think there's pressure to fit into one of those groups, either to go out and have lots of sex or to not have sex at all. There is stigma from both sides to each other, the cool group think the pure group are 'frigid' and boring, the pure group think the cool group are disrespecting themselves and God or something along those lines. If you're not willing to put yourself in either box then you can cop it from both sides. And if you are out LGBTQ then chances of fitting in either group are slim to none. I'm not sure if this is how it is for other people but that's how it feels to me in the last few years.
That's from Caitlin, a member of our communRead more...