The topic of last week’s Open Workshop was, you guessed it, sex! Sex ed! Myths about sex! Youth views on sex! So after a lengthy discussion on the topic, participants wrote in response to the following question:

If you could write a letter to the teacher who will be teaching your little brother/sister about Sex Education/Sociology for Living, what would it say?

Anna, 16
Dear Teacher, I notice that not all teachers want to educate about sex to teens in school. Some say that parents should explain it and some are willing to educate because they have children and know it’s hard to explain it to their own child. Some parents prefer not to talk about sex with their children because they are afraid their child will end up doing it. Knowing if you don’t educate teens about sex, they will find out some way and it usually results in the girl getting pregnant. I would like to ask you, when you talk about sex with children or teens, I would like you to please be as honest as you can. Answer every question they ask. I would like my future children to learn the pros and cons about sex. Yes, I will teach my children about sex because I don’t want my daughter to get pregnant and then hate her child knowing it was a mistake. I also don’t want my son to get a girl pregnant and then bail on her saying it ain’t his kid. I want my children to learn that it’s better to wait when they are old enough, and to want to lose their virginity to someone they love and trust.

LaKenya, 17
Mr. Teacher, I’m writing to you on behalf of my niece. I understand that in your Sociology for Living class, you are teaching a lesson that I’m sure you teach every year, on sex. Now I know you teach all the students the “basics” such as the diseases and birth control, etc. But you should switch it up a little. Yes, talk about the diseases and what you can get from sex, and even oral sex, and of course, talk about pregnancy and birth control. But I think you should get more into the lesson, like go around the classroom and ask each student what they know about sex. If something doesn’t seem to fit right or they know the wrong thing, teach them what you know personally, not what the book says. I know you’re only doing your job, but this is just an opinion from an Aunt’s point of view.

Laqusha, 20
Dear Teacher, Okay, so I have taken your class before and I have to say you were my favorite teacher. But I have a few suggestions for the sex education part of the class. I remember watching videos in your class and every single one of them were outdated. This is a new generation and young people aren’t going to pay attention because of the age and time difference. I would also suggest to do more hands on activities, like short plays or skits on the topic. I have a younger brother and I know that the way to get his attention is to be real, maybe tell personal stories or make up some that are happening in this day and age. I hope these ideas are helpful.

Jesse, 16
Dear Instructor, As you teach the curriculum on sex education, please emphasize to my brothers and my sisters that abstinence is right and should be the only way. Please let them know that they are wonderful and beautiful, and do not need to lay down with a man or woman until marriage. Please emphasize the dangers of having sex before marriage. The addictive people who have sex and can’t stop so they rape and murder. They need to know about all the dangerous diseases that plague the nation as a whole. Please help them understand that their body parts are part of an intricate design and can be ruined by a little mistake. I will also tell them about the emotional problems related to abortion and HIV death.

Angelina, 15
Dear Sex Ed Teacher, I know you are doing a good job at informing youth about all the sex education things, but as good as you are already, I as an older sister would like to request more from you. I want you to teach my younger siblings not to rush into sex. They don’t need sex early in life and it’s best for them to wait until they get married. Informing youth that sex is normal is good, but not to the point where they can do it whenever. Some youth are taking that in as a sign that it’s okay to have sex. I want you to really pressure my younger siblings to not have sex or just use abstinence. I know they have to know about sex one day, but I don’t want them to use the wrong method to learn. Do inform them about the nasty, ugly, non-disappearing diseases they can get. PS: Tell them to respect themselves.

Kevis, 17
Dear Teacher, I believe you should teach the future generation about the scientific reason for having sex. And you should teach them the pros and cons for doing it too. They should have the right to know more than we did. And that goes for the generation after them too, they should know more than the generation before them.

Marcus, 18
Dear Instructor, What I would like for my younger sister/brother to learn is ways to prevent pregnancies and curb the rates of STDs while showing the upside of the whole experience. Also to show them ways to properly engage in intercourse. Also learn about contraceptive devices like birth control, condoms, or just plain abstinence. Instruct them on how being safe can be fun, and don’t demonize the act itself, whether for recreational purpose or for creating life. Show the students that they can be sexually active and still carry themselves with respect and have morals or guidelines.

Gracie, 16
Dear Instructor, Due to the fact that my brother/sister may not be a normal teenager, by liking the same sex s/he is, there should at least be a segment for him/her to relate to because not everyone is “straight”. That would be great because my parents don’t know much to say to him/her since they’ve never experienced that in their life. Also I believe that you shouldn’t just focus on the negative stuff that can happen when you have sex. I believe you should teach more about abortion, not just how they are bad, but actually show pictures of the fetuses that have been aborted. Because just by telling people that it is bad doesn’t necessarily make an impact on a person’s life. It’s better to show than tell.

Arena, 16
Dear Teacher, Your class on sex education was great. I know just about everything about pregnancy, abstinence, STDs, HIV/AIDS, safe sex and the sexual reproductive organs. Although your class is great, it still needs some work. I think you should really emphasize why abstinence is good. You should not only tell your students that the safest way to practice safe sex is not to do it, but you should tell them that sex can be a burden and takes a lot more responsibility. Sex should be between two people who are really ready for it, not for the heat of the moment.

Dear Teacher, I was well informed that you are now teaching my sibling sex ed. I would appreciate it if you would inform my sibling what sex can do to a person internally and externally. I would also like it if you would teach them how to have safe sex if they were going to do it anyway. For example, how to put on a condom, know what diseases they can catch, birth control, and afterward responsibilities, along with information they can use if they have a baby or catch a disease.

To whom it may concern, In junior high I took a sex education class as a section of P.E. And I remember for the most part I learned about the different sexually related diseases, including Herpes (both genital and oral), HIV/AIDS. Also we were taught various ways to protect ourselves during sexual intercourse, but I feel that the most important thing about sex was left out and that’s abstaining until marriage.

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The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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