Youth Organizing Campaigns
Sex Education Justice
Beginning in 2011, Forward Together Youth have been working towards getting comprehensive, inclusive, and culturally relevant sex education implemented in Oakland Unified School District. Our campaign, Sex Ed the City: More than Just Protection is about youth in Oakland having access to the information, resources, and support they need to make healthy decisions around gender, sexuality, body image, and relationships.
Through Youth Participatory Action Research, workshops and presentations, advocacy and lobbying with legislatures and other decision-makers, and base-building events, Forward Together Youth are building community awareness and support in order to prioritize comprehensive sex education as a necessary solution towards the safety, well-being, and livelihood of Oakland young people.
Sex Ed: The Saga video series
Sex Ed: The Saga is our video series created in partnership with imMEDIAte justice to change how people think, feel, and act when it comes to young people, sexuality, and access to sex educaiton. Our videos aim to get young people, caregivers, teachers, and mentors to start conversations on topics like healthy decision-making, sexual orientation, gender identity, and acceptance. The Sex Ed: the Saga video series is created by and for youth and is a way for young people to lead conversations that adults tend to have about us, without us.
Check out our videos here:
Our Framework: Sex Education Justice
Sex education is not just about looking at pictures of STIs (sexually transmitted infections), putting condoms on bananas, and awkwardly talking about our bodies. Sex education is about young people getting the information they need to make empowered decisions about their bodies, gender, sexuality, and relationships. Sex education justice is about providing ALL students with information about healthy and unhealthy relationships, sexism and patriarchy, gender identity, sexuality and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identity, as well as providing students with tools for how to deal with violence, mental health issues, harassment, and making informed pregnancy decisions from all the available options (including parenting, abortion, and adoption). Sex education justice is about providing students with disabilities, English language learners,,immigrant students, and students of color with sexual health information that is accessible and relevant to their everyday lives.
Our Report: Let’s Get it On
In spring 2011, Forward Together Youthled a Youth Participatory Action Research project to assess the state of sex education in Oakland high schools. We collected over 500 surveys from students of widely representative ages and races and surveying three of the big high schools as well as the smaller charter, continuation, and alternative high schools. We conducted focus groups with youth from different youth organizations to get more in-depth information about the sex education young people what to see in their schools.
We found that overwhelmingly, students are not receiving any sex education in their classrooms, but feel that comprehensive sex education is important to their lives. We created a report to share our findings, which can be found here.