This is a guest post from Wendy Blackheart, at Heart Full of Black, for the Scarleteen blogathon. Want to take part? Toss us an email and we'll get you in touch with Laura, our blogathon organizer!
Ah, Scarleteen. I can actually remember a time before Scarleteen – they started up in 1998, when I was in 8th grade. See, I went to a school where 99.9% of our sexual health information was from an abstinence only program.
The school sex ed actually started out okay – in grades 3 and 5 we had health classes where we learned about the human body and how it works. In 5th grade, we separated out into groups of just boys and just girls, and got some of the details of puberty and what would happen to our bodies. We learned where babies came from and all that before the abstinence-only programs were started.
By high school, however, we were not getting much in the way of good information. We didn’t learn about birth control at all – it wasn’t even mentioned, not even in a negative way. We saw lo...Read more...
(It's much more fun if you do your best Mary Catherine Gallagher moves when you say it.)
Today we're starting our yearly fundraising appeal -- the shiny marketing term for "beg for cash" -- for Scarleteen with some righteous month-long festivities and extras.
We aim to publish an in-depth advice column every single day from now through November 15th. Myself and Scarleteen's assistant director, CJ Turett, will be burning the midnight oil with answers, but we also have the help of some fantastically talented people to help this month, like Jaclyn Friedman, Kate Bornstein, Susie Bright, Zaedryn Meade, Cory Silverberg, Petra Boynton, Justin Bish, Amanda Marcotte, Carol Queen, s.e.smith, Nona Willis Aronowitz and more! You can get started with Jaclyn Friedman's guest advice on getting sexual assault awareness started in your college right here.
All across the 'net there's also a month-long blogathon for us starting today, and we will be reprinting most of the entries right here on our own ...Read more...
I have a problem, and I'm ready to crack with the stress of it. I've been on birth control (Yaz) for a year, to help with my acne, though I don't always take it at the same time every day. Sometimes I've missed pills or taken them over 12 hours late. That shouldn't really matter, though, because I'm not sexually active. My boyfriend and I have decided to wait until we get married to have sex. We only ever make out. Still, I find myself worrying about pregnancy risks even though there are no apparent ways to get pregnant from what we do. Some small part of my mind will whisper things like, "What if he has pre-ejaculate that seeps through his clothes onto you? What if he had a nocturnal emission that night he stayed over?" Nobody else I know seems to have this constant paranoia. I don't understand why I spend half my time worrying about a pregnancy that most people understand is impossible. I'm not sure what I'm asking here, other than, have you ever seen this before - a girl terrified of something happening when it isn't even likely? Is there any way I can help myself and get peace of mind? Thanks.
I have a very exciting announcement to make (and a little bit of a happydance that goes with it, but I'm not sure that's something anyone wants to see, so I'll stick with just the announcement for now).
As of today, readers and users at our message boards have the chance to participate in a twitter feed of their own. Scarleteen already has a twitter feed updated by Heather Corinna and a few other volunteers and staff members (it's at http://www.twitter.com/Scarleteen if you're interested). But this new account is going to be created, updated and maintained by our message board users and readers.
From time to time, volunteers may step in to add quotes from posts at the message boards, but the content will be exclusively the words of the young people who use Scarleteen. There is already a section of the main site dedicated to young people's voices - "In Your Own Words" - but this new twitter feed is an opportunity for the amazing teens and young adults we have here to get their voice...Read more...
Many people have been asking about when our next peer sex educator training will be, and I'm sorry to say that I'm coming in with my founder and executive director hat on to deliver some not-so-awesome news about it.
We have a very long waiting list for another session of our training. I was hoping to be able to do another round this spring or summer, but as of right now, it simply will not be possible to do until late fall, and may even need to stay on hold until 2011.
I like to run the organization as transparently as possible, so I'll briefly explain what's up with the holdup. Long story short, there are three major factors right now which are the issue.
With the waiting list being so long, we want to train a larger group in than last time. But even with the small group that we had last year, it was clear that doing the training mostly on my own was very difficult, and I feel that shortchanged our trainees. So, I need some pro-bono help from a handful of other qualified educators ...Read more...
On top of doing what I do here at Scarleteen (and everything else I do), I also do some outreach sexuality and sexual rights education for a youth homeless shelter here in Seattle. My partner also now works full-time at that shelter, and when he came home last night and filled me in on some things that had gone on that day, I got struck very hard in the gut with some feelings I hadn't fully realized for myself until then, both about that work and the young people there, but also about some of my experiences with some of the users at Scarleteen.
So, I wrote the residents there a letter this morning that I'd also like to share with you, because the way I feel about them is also the way I feel about plenty of you. Because most of Scarleteen happens online, very few of our users are currently homeless or transient, but some have been or will be. In addition, plenty over the years have shared similar struggles, either being in the foster care system or in unsafe homes, surviving loss, ass...Read more...
You probably already know I'm the founder and executive director of Scarleteen. (If not, hello! Lovely meeting you.) You might not know that on Sunday I'm turning 40.
I don't normally ask the internet for birthday prezzies, but 40 is a big freaking birthday. When I was the age of most of the young people I counsel now, I had it in my head I wouldn't live past 36. I've become the adult I didn't even think I would be around to be. When someone asked me what I wanted last week for my birthday, what I felt I really wanted, in my heart of hearts, was the kind of world I'd truly prefer to live in and want for young people, particularly around sexuality, their bodies and their relationships. I want the world I've been working very hard to try and create. Big birthdays deserve big gifts, right?
Of course, no one can just snap their fingers and give that to me. But there is something small each of you can do to plant some seeds for it, and I'm going to go ahead and be a noodge and ask you for ...Read more...
Maybe I'm just being optimistic, but lately I feel like I have been noticing more people who really want to hear and know what young people think. Not who want to assume, presume, project or decide what you think, but who actually want to ask you and hear what you have to say about yourselves for yourselves.
If I'm not delusional in noticing this (always a possibility), I don't have to tell you this is obviously very good news.
One of the common complaints we hear a lot at Scarleteen from young people is how often you have to put up with older adults out and about in the world saying things about you that you don't think are true, or making broad generalizations about all teens or twentysomethings that don't accurately represent the vast diversity among you. And that last thing you need me to tel you is that that can be particularly problematic when it comes to talk that has anything to do with sex or sexuality.
Of course, one of the challenges when adults ask to hear what you have...Read more...