Sex Ed Isn't Scary: Support Scarleteen This Halloween

There’s scary stuff afoot, whether that’s about Halloween festivities, or the truly terrifying state of the world. We’ve also been in the thick of yet another big round of manufactured fear about sex education. Sex education and sex educators continue to be presented as dangerous, harmful, creepy and wicked. While this has been a near-constant in the almost 25 years Scarleteen has been operating, the most recent version of this has been particularly haunting.

 Sex education and information, and both those who teach and learn from it, or support for young people’s emerging intimate relationships, sexualities, and identities aren’t scary. It’s the lack of them — especially in the current climate — that is.

It’s always been vital to learn how bodies work and how to have safe and caring interactions and relationships with each other. Finding out about the diversity of sex, sexualities, identities and pleasure without stigma or stereotype has always been an important part of helping people discover their own sexualities and learn to be more accepting of others. Being taught how to take care of our sexual and reproductive health, how to access essential healthcare (abortion and gender-affirming therapies very much included), and how to be safe with others has always been literally lifesaving, as has been the ability to talk to someone trustworthy and kind directly, when you need them, for questions or concerns about bodies, relationships, abuses, identities — even "just" having access to someone you can count on to support and accurately inform you.

All of that also being trauma-informed and inclusive, written by and for a wide range of gender, sexual, cultural and other identities, provided in plain language — and even some additional formats for greater accessibility — with empathy, lack of judgment, and by real, live people, with warmth and candor? Available to most people around the world with access to a phone or a computer? And also free? Game-changing, always.

Scarleteen has long checked all of those boxes, and what we offer is more needed now than ever before.

So many rights are currently at risk or have already been lost. Anti-trans, anti-woman, anti-pleasure and anti-really-caring-about-people-period sentiment is so loud and so pervasive. Young people in particular are bombarded every day with so much violence, isolation, marketing masquerading as everything else, virulent misinformation and, as always, with confusing, intentionally misleading and destructive messages about their bodies, sexualities and relationships.

Truly comprehensive, inclusive and high quality sex education and information, widely accessible and caring and free help and support, and trusted, time-tested resources for both, all for free — a combination nearly exclusive to Scarleteen — are all the more essential right now. It’s a scary, fearful place to grow into adulthood right now, including, and sometimes especially, in the parts of life we focus on in modern, holistic sex education. It’s going without this kind of help and information that’s terrifying, not providing it.

Eeven though our budget is far better than it used to be (we had around $200K in funding for 2022), it remains very modest for our level of service, reach and quality. We need support from independent donors to do all we do. So, we’re howling at the moon and you today to ask for your help.

With some elbow grease, some Halloween fun, and probably too many Dad jokes, we’re hoping to raise at least $5,000 by 11/2. Want to pitch in?

Take part in our online raffle! Some friends of Scarleteen — like Early to Bed, radical emprints, Mona Eltahawy, Isabella Rotman and Stephen Luntz — have generously donated some killer items in the name of scare-free sex ed! Tickets will be available starting right now, on October 27th, until November 2nd. Winners will be randomly chosen and notified on November 3rd!

Donate! If you aren't a donor already, we'd appreciate your help if you have the capacity. We're a very cost-efficient organization, so financial donations at any level go a long way with us. If you're already a regular donor, thank you!

•  SUPER SPECIAL 10/30 UPDATE! We've got a donor ready to match up to $4000 of what we can raise between 10/27 and 11/2!  That's a match for raffle tickets or a match for donations made here!

• Help amplify our fundraising messaging and shenanigans over the next week via your networks! We're brewing Halloween fun all week, including a spooky mixtape later tonight and a spine-tingling, digital drag show on the 30th! Keep your eyes peeled (ew) and help us shout it all out in pursuit of our goal and continuing our tradition of inclusive, comprehensive and scare-free sex ed. Personal communication — and the more one-on-one, the better — with people in your world to let them know why you value and want to help financially support Scarleteen goes a very long way.

• Help us find new volunteers to add to our team, or join us yourself: We’re particularly looking for people in their teens or early 20s, trans and BIPOC folks, disabled and neurodivergent people, young parents, and volunteers in Asia and Africa to help fill in gaps with our current crew. Our volunteers are integral to what we do and how we do it: help finding the right people to add to our gang is so valuable. If you, or someone you know, seems like a potentially great fit, you’ll find all the details, and the application, here.

Thanks for anything you are able and choose to do. Here’s to sexuality messaging and information that isn’t scary, ghosting sex ed stigma, fearless selves and sexualities, and a happier, help-ier, Halloween for everyone.

- Sam Wall, Heather Corinna and the rest of the Scarleteen Team