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youth

How are we supposed to know what’s wrong if we don’t know what’s right?

Sade is 17 and works as a youth activist for YWCHAC, a program for and by young women of color that helps foster their development in advocacy training while providing them with the skills to be effective peer-educators to youth on the subject of sexual health. Their mission is to address the increasing rates of HIV infection in young women of color ages 13-24. Sade does a lot of community outreach and events that help develop partnerships with individuals and organizations that have similar goals, events like annual sexual health summits, safer sex education parties, advocacy and STD (STI) workshops, and other community projects.

I got the chance to ask Sade about what she does, why she does it, and what she thinks about some of the issues that impact HIV and young women. I've shortcut my own questions to give her words the spotlight, because she's got some phenomenal things to say that so many people really, really need to listen to.

On what she wants people to know about young wome

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The age of consent... for what, exactly?

tortot555 asks:

I want to know what the government considers sex. When they say age of consent what kind of sex are they talking about?

Be a Scarleteen Superstar!

(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

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How do I approach my college about sexual assault awareness?

Annie W. asks:

Beginning in September, I am going to be employed as Residence Don for an all girls floor at a university. I am pretty excited about the job and really would like to make residence life a positive experience for the students I will be living with (about 170 guys and gals in total).

However, there is one MAJOR issue I have with the residence, they offered no sexual assault awareness education for the students. In the 2008-09 school year, there were 3 sexual assaults reported, which lead to criminal charges, and almost all I have talked to who have lived in this residence for multiple years have either been sexually assaulted themselves or had a friend who was while living there.

So, clearly, something is needed to change this residence culture that seems to be conducive to sexual violence.

I feel like my body is wrong, but my parents say my feelings are wrong.

LondonIsABurningFire asks:

I'm a girl, but I've always felt like I'm in the wrong body. Every time I picture myself, I see a boy. I want to get a sex change, but I know how much it can cost. My parents are also Catholic, and are already angry about me not being religious, and every time I try to bring up the subject, they get angry and tell me that I was "made a girl", so I should only feel like one, and that everything else I feel is wrong. But my friends are very supportive, and I even have a guy friend who wants to be a girl. Who do I listen to?

One of the 80 million ways young people are my s/heroes

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

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On Identifying Identities

Teenagerhood should be a time of dreams and expansion. We should be allowed to open our inner selves up and absorb as much light and life as we possibly can. We should be, but other people are often too often invested in what they think we should be to let us be what we are.

You should wait for sex, but if you can't....

This is one of a long line of common phrases in sex education and sexuality messaging people, including people I think of us allies, use that I deeply dislike, like "preventing teen pregnancy." Let me explain why, working backwards.

"You should wait for sex, but if you can't..."

That's usually followed by "then you should have sex using safer sex and contraception." Or -- and usually addressing both those things -- "then you should at least be responsible."

In some respect, that's fine. Now, not everyone needs contraception, either because they don't have a partner with a radically different reproductive system than them or they're not having the kinds of sex that can create a pregnancy, so that doesn't always make sense. But for people choosing to have any kind of sex, we're 100% on board with the sentiment that all of us -- no matter our age -- should be engaging in sexual practices supportive of safeguarding everyone's best health, and in alignment with whether we do or don't want

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From Us to You: Some Volunteer Aunties Talk Body Image

I know it's only so much consolation to you right now, but the older I get, the more I notice how much easier having a positive body image becomes. I know that's clearly not the case for all older women: after all, plenty of women my age and older are getting sliced, diced and Botoxed to within an inch of their lives. However, it's also not just me. I often notice that women I'm friends with also seem to have a good handle and perspective on their body image, despite the diversity of our bodies. Usually a much better one then they had when they were your age.

But you know, what I wish I knew then that I do know now is that most of my body image is totally up to me. Just like it is now, so it was when I was in my teens: I have control over how positive or negative it is. And that's something you'll find many older women wish they had known back when. You don't have to wait until you're in your 30's, 40's or beyond to get to a better place with yours. You can start doing that right

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How can I help my trans partner with a medical transition?

myself5 asks:

Okay, so I'm a female high school junior. There's this girl (sweet, geeky, smart, funny, the works) that I may soon be starting a sexual relationship with. She's trans and just started taking hormones. Currently she's male, but eventually, her "outie" will become an "innie," so to speak. I've heard mixed things about this surgery, and I don't know if she'll be able to feel things the same way afterward. She's very sexual, and obviously I want to be able to do stuff with her, so this is a big concern. What will the aftermath of the surgery be like? What are the risks of the procedure? What can I do to help her get through this?

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