#Scarleteenalums: Can You Speak Up To Help Out?

Someone had told me Scarleteen was the best place on the internet for sexual health info, and I see now that they were completely right. It's the scariest feeling in the world to not know what's going on with your own body, and even worse to feel like you have no one you can talk to about it. I am thanking Jeebus, the Easter Bunny and Hare Krishna that people like you exist. - Brigitte

We're getting into the final stretches of our current fundraising campaign, the one we very much hope will start to turn things around for us financially, and help us continue all of our services, rather than having to cut them back or shut them down.

We know our readers and users -- sometimes as many as five million of in a year, all around the world -- know and appreciate our value.

Many of you have expressed that to us over the years, and we've always been so glad to know how much we've helped when you needed it. That's what we aim to do! We also have users check back in with us as the years pass, and know we have so many users who have become such incredible people as you've grown, people who also have harnessed some real power and confidence when it comes to creating and navigating the kind of sexual life that benefits you and anyone else who is part of it; that's what you want, uniquely, and that makes you happy and lets you stay healthy, too.  Some of our users have even become badass sex educators in their own right. We're always so proud and happy to have played any part in any of that.

I just wanted to say thank you for this amazing site. I'm a 18 year old female who lives in Chile (South America, that long thin pizza crust on the left side), a country that has little to no effective sexual health and responsibility policies: the morning after pill has just been banned, abortion is illegal (although 100,000 reported cases of abortions happen each year, with serious consequences like infertility and/or death), and frankly people just don't talk openly and frankly about sex. I've learned a lot in your site, and you guys have made it possible for me to make informed decisions about my life and sexuality. I just wanted to let you know that you're not just helping people in the US, but all over the world: you are, in some unfortunate cases as mine, the only source of unbiased upfront honest and reliable source of information for hundreds of girls that don't have anyone to turn to. For that, you have my most sincere gratitude. - Sofia

I have a 16 yr old adolescent that recently entered his first physical relationship with the opposite sex. Of course as a parent I worry about him making the right choices. The truth is that at this age a great majority of kids begin "experimenting" out of curiosity, peer pressure, etc. I have to say THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for your website. I surfed the web for over an hour before stumbling upon your site and want to tell you that yours has the most realistic answers to offer my teenager to so many questions they often ponder at this stage in their lives. Not only is your advice to teens "sound" and gets down to the heart of the matter, but your wording is at times funny! and this for teens makes the advice not seem so scary to take in, and more welcoming for them to want to satisfy their curiosity to so many questions that evolve when entering what should be a safe and in many ways memorable time of their lives. - Liz

We want to continue to provide all we do to our users at no cost to them, as we always have. Even if we didn't want to provide what we do at no cost, charging young people for essential information - on top of striking us as just plain crappy - would be largely untenable. Many of our users simply do not have the financial independence or funds to pay or donate even if they wanted to.

So, when it comes to financial support, we primarily look to, and need help from, older adults in the world who care about young people, who care about young people's free, unrestricted access to excellent sex education and who do have the economic autonomy and funds to give a little.

This can obviously be a bit tricky. Most of these folks have never used Scarleteen, so it's hard for them to understand its value and what it offers and gives our readers and users. When we don't understand what a thing really does, and what its value can be, we are tremendously unlikely to give it our support.

But! There's something that can help. Here's where you come in, current-Scarleteen-user or now-Scarleteen-alum.

You can tell them. Then they'll know.

Then people who didn't know what we did, and what that can mean for anyone we do it with, will be way more likely to donate so we can keep providing all the free sex education and support services for young people we have for fifteen years now, and very much still want to provide: to you, your friends or partners, your siblings or cousins, your parents, to your children if and when you are the parents, to anyone and everyone who wants and needs it.

I felt really stupid since I never had partnered sex yet (and I'm at the age where I feel that it's long overdue) and this site just makes me feel so much better. I didn't think a site about sex would make me feel good about not having sex... I've recommending the site to a couple of friends who feel similarily awkward about the intercourse they have or haven't had. I really like the sections about how masturbation isn't the worst thing in the universe and how intercourse for women isn't always so hot... Again, it all just makes me feel better about what I like to do and what I don't want to. Thank you so much.  - Ash

What we're asking folks to do right now is to use social media to do just that.

If you're using twitter or tumblr, use the hashtag: #scarleteenalums, and just write something short and sweet about having used any of our services and what they offered you, followed by a gentle nudge to those who do or may read what you've said to help support us.

I'm a mom. Thanks so much for this site. You guys have made it so easy to talk to my daughter about "all this." Not that I'm uncomfortable, but she is. Thanks thanks thanks thanks THANKS! Oh, and thanks. - Gina

You can write something, in your own voice, like you see in some of the testimonials we've reprinted here. If you're using a medium that asks for something more brief, have a peek at a few tweets like this that popped up on our radar last week as good examples:

@canoli_abides: @Scarleteen helped me to lose my virginity with minimal feathers ruffled. Support on behalf of other kids whose schools don't provide sex ed.

@JessieLTaylor: @Scarleteen saved my sanity and made me a better person as a teen, so I just set up a monthly donation for the amazing work they do.

@Sarah_Woolley: If my sex ed had lacked a cool mum, and access to @Scarleteen: I'd probably be looking for my hymen down the sofa #VirginityMyths #Lucky

See? So easy. It'll only take a minute or two of your time, but those minutes and your heartfelt words could do a whole lot. Just speak from your head, heart or both about the value of what we have offered you, toss in the #scarleteenalums hashtag, and, link to our current fundraising ask here, or right to our donation landing page here.

We do know, by the way, that many off our users kind of think of us as a thing and a place to keep secret; that many feel very uncomfortable telling people they have looked for and accessed sexuality information.  We want to respect and honor your desire for privacy, and don't want to ask you to bypass that for us: it's important.  However, we also hope you know, or can get to know, that there's nothing shameful about seeking out information about such a typically big part of most people's lives and selves.  Perhaps you can use this as practice in taking one baby step out of any of those feelings of shame -- since they sure don't benefit anyone, far and beyond issues with fundraising, of all things! -- by just saying something that doesn't tell the world more than you're okay with them knowing about you, yet still expresses the value you've found here.

"I am a 16 year old female who has never had any type of sexual education, and multiple times I have had questions to which I could find no answers. This site is amazing because it lets you post your questions anonymously, eliminating any embarrassment. Through Scarleteen I have received quick replies to every question I have asked and this accurate, candid information has helped me to make more informed decisions to protect both my emotional and sexual health. Thanks Scarleteen, for all that you do for teens like me. You guys rock!" - sportchick

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your website, as a feminist, the daughter of a feminist and as a teenager. It has changed the way I think about sex and sexuality, and I am seriously questioning the gender roles that have been projected on me my whole life. I love biology and along with the book Woman by Natalie Angier I have realised how male-centric most biology and sex-education curriculums are. This culture has told me what is wrong with sexuality, and what is wrong with my body my whole life. It's so empowering to have adults tell me that its good to respect and love my body for what it is and that the diversity of orientation is normal. You're doing an excellent job at what schools and most of our parents have failed at or haven't even attempted. You rock.- Jane

Thanks so much to any and all of you who pitch in in this way: we really appreciate the help and support you can give!

P.S. If you are a Scarleteen alum who's now an adult that doesn't use or need any of our services anymore, and also one who does now have the freedom and financial means to give a little?  We ask that you please do.  Figure someone did for you back when you used Scarleteen, so you had it when you needed it, so this is a great way to pay that forward! :)