Sex Education Gets Directly to Youths, Via Text
“While heading to class last year, Stephanie Cisneros, a Denver-area high school junior, was arguing with a friend about ways that sexually transmitted diseasesmight be passed along.
Ms. Cisneros knew she could resolve the dispute in class — but not by raising her hand. While her biology teacher lectured about fruit flies, Ms. Cisneros hid her phone underneath her lab table and typed a message to ICYC (In Case You’re Curious), a text-chat program run by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Soon, her phone buzzed. “There are some STDs you can get from kissing but they are spread more easily during sex,” the reply read. “You can get a STD from oral sex. You should use a condom whenever you have sex.”
Ms. Cisneros said she liked ICYC for its immediacy and confidentiality. “You can ask a random question about sex and you don’t feel it was stupid,” said Ms. Cisneros, now a senior. “Even if it was, they can’t judge you because they don’t know it’s you. And it’s too gross to ask my parents.”…
“Real Talk held a classroom contest to see which student could send the most texts containing this prevention message: “ROFL!!!” (Translation: rolling on the floor laughing). “STDs and HIV can spread as fast as this message. Still laughing? Pass on the message not HIV/STDs. 518-HIV-TEST.” Within an hour, the message had been sent to nearly 450 phones.”
Services like ICYC are innocent and valuable tools; they are available to anyone searching for information and unlike Google, they have the advantage of being targeted at young people. Viral text messages, about sex between curious teens, is a great thing.
It is quite disheartening to contemplate a young person’s first glimpse at sex, though, being a warning message about dangerous and life threatening diseases. Until society’s leaders are replaced by people who do not fear and repress their own sexuality, and old systems of racial and sexual oppression disappear, this growing access to information via the Internet and even cellphones is vitally important. I hope everyday that involuntary ignorance becomes a thing of the past, don’t you?
Creative Commons image: Source
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