It's Scarleteen-o-ween! (And We're Asking for Treats.)
Our team loves Halloween. We don't require anyone who works or volunteers here to have an abiding love of silly spookiness, but most of us here at Scarleteen live for this holiday. For one of us (unsurprisingly, the one of us who creates elaborate costumes every year with their dog), this is the only holiday we celebrate.
This is a deeply lousy year for the usual Halloween shenanigans and hoopla. You can't shake candy out of a Zoom meeting, go to a haunted house unless your house is itself haunted, and it's really hard to drum up enthusiasm for a virtual party of any kind right now when we're all sick of the spaces we've been stuck in for months on end, when so many are ill, hurting or both, and, for those of us stateside, when election anxiety and the horrifying end-runs of fascists currently in charge also have our stomachs and hearts in a vice-grip.
This is also a lousy year for organizations and projects who need donations to keep the lights on and do all the things that they do, Scarleteen very much included.
We waited to make a financial ask this year for as long as we could. We know how strained things are for so many economically, and how precarious everything still is. We also wanted to step back so that the needs of Black-led and centered organizations and projects could stay front and center, and get the bulk of people's giving. We still wouldn't be asking if we didn't need to, but we do.
Based on how things have been the last eight months and how we suspect they'll still be for a while, unless something changes, we'll have about $10,000 less to work with this year than we did last year.
We know that amount of money might not sound like much for an organization, but we're a grassroots org with a wide reach that provides a whole lot...with a small team and a smaller budget. Last year we had around $100,000 to work with, the bulk of which came from two grants. $10K is 10% of our whole budget, and a lot for us, especially since and we already keep things super lean around here as it is.
$10K pays our freelance writers and illustrators, provides stipends for our hard-working volunteers at the end of the year, and helps pay for our basic overhead. It contributes to the salaries of our paid staff (and all of these positions are less than 30 hours a week, because we just don't have the cash for more): Rachel, our People Manager, Sam, our Assistant Director, and Heather, our founder and director. With it, we can afford to get advanced tech help or development when we need it, and, when it's safe to do so again, provide our in-person outreach programming. Without it, we'll have to cut some things to make up for the difference: publishing less content, cutting back staff hours (and one of us already has cut our hours this year), reducing our services.
We're hoping that, with your help, we can raise that $10,000 over the next few days.
We aren't asking for more than that because we want to be sure that, if you can, you also are able to give to other projects and organizations in need, as well as vital person-to-person mutual aid. We won't be living large, but we can make it through the next few months with that amount.
If you're reading this, you probably already know much of what we currently do and what we have done over the last almost-22 years now. If not, the long story short is that we were the very first sex education clearinghouse online for young people way back when, and we've kept providing all that we do ever since: direct services, like our message boards, chat and text service, a wide range of informative and original articles and advice, mentorship and community for the budding sex educators who are our volunteers, and more. Our users have never gotten canned answers from us, and we don't use AI: our users are listened to and helped directly by real live people responding to them and their needs uniquely and with focused attention. We've been queer-led, inclusive, pleasure-forward, sex-positive, learner-directed, affirming, thoughtful, non-judgmental and supportive since we had to defend even just providing sex ed, period, and certainly doing it the way we do, on the regular.
Some people think we're radical. We don't (we wish we could do the things we think are radical!). We just think we're doing the work of providing progressive and quality sex, sexuality and relationships education and support in the best ways we know how and the ways that work best for the young people we serve.
We know that it might seem like sex ed isn't as needed right now as it has been before, or it might be again, but we disagree.
During the pandemic we've been helping young people and their families to know what they need to do to keep as safe and okay as they can -- with dating, protesting, parenting, online, abortion and other kinds of healthcare access. We've been supporting users struggling with loneliness, gender and sexual identity, mental health, sadness and anger, family, friendships and romantic or sexual relationships. We've been helping them learn how to engage in some important self-care and an array of harm reduction. We've been creating content for people struggling with the aftermath of abuse, assault or other trauma alone, who are scared or confused about sexual impacts of the pandemic, who are living with unsupportive family. Because 2020 was also a year where we also couldn't have in-person Pride celebrations, Sam and the rest of our team even organized and delivered a deeply sparkly virtual Pride.
We kept all of our direct services running and were able to be there for our users, even in all this mess and disarray. While the pandemic has changed the ways that people are sexual and engaging in relationships and other social interactions, it hasn't changed the need for inclusive, accessible, accurate and caring sex and relationships education, information and support.
We've often filled some important gaps: for young people who get or have had sex ed in school that wasn't ongoing, inclusive or even accurate and affirming, for those whose schools don't provide it at all, for those who aren't in school, period, or whose ability to attend school isn't reliable enough for them to catch sex ed when it happens, for those who still need sex ed after anything they've already had in some other context. We've provided information that people just aren't getting, can't get, or are afraid to ask their teachers, doctors or parents or guardians for.
Almost everything we do is and always has been accessible online, so now we're able to also fill gaps left by so many who are not attending school at all during the pandemic, or whose schools are meeting virtually, but not providing any sex education, or who need things that their schools and others they have access to during this time simply don't offer. We also haven't needed any time to learn how to do this: we already know how to do what we do virtually, and already have a wide array of ways to learn already operating.
If you're able, please help us with a donation, so that we can continue to provide all the sex and relationships information and service we do, in the way that we do, to all of the young people who have long relied on us for it, and who will continue to in the years to come.
You can make a one-time or recurring (even better!) secure donation to us by clicking here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1433116?code=STPRIMARY
Thank you for anything you can contribute. We wish you, if not a happy Halloween, at least one that doesn't completely suck like everything else in 2020 has.