I was pointed at a very interesting site, Sexual Intelligence, by a post to a homeschooling list about some admirable teens who were among the 2002 Sexual Intelligence Award Winners.
Speak Out! Teen Group
It started out innocently enough last fall. A few high school kids in Santa Ana, CA started talking about how their friends were getting pregnant. They realized that their health class wasn’t helping. All it said about sex was “wait until marriage.” Their textbook didn’t help either. It said “wait until marriage.” The students knew they needed more.
They decided to organize and collect information about teen pregnancy locally, and how it could be reduced. They examined various sex education curricula and learned how some, like the abstinence-only program in their school district, were far less effective than others. They received encouragement and technical support from the Campfire USA Speak Out! program, where they also learned research methodology and presentation skills.
They started talking to everyone about the issue. Surveying other students, they discovered 60% were already sexually active. No wonder a sex-ed program with the single focus “don’t do it” wasn’t helping—students were already doing it. Further surveys discovered that the curriculum improvements they wanted were supported by 90% of the district’s parents and a majority of their health teachers.
When they finally got their chance to address the school board, the teens were ready with statistics, survey results, and emotions. Board members were deeply impressed by the kids’ work and their desire for information and guidance relevant to their lives. The Board has established a committee to look into the problem—the “problem” that students want better education. We hope they’ll understand their kids’ needs as well as the kids do.
Honorable mention goes to Campfire USA, which encouraged the students’ civic involvement, and secured funding for it. We also salute the California Wellness Foundation for funding the project. The 15 teens themselves are hereby recognized for spreading sexual intelligence–among their peers and among the adults in charge of their well-being.