I have received something special from the Advocates for Youth Urban Retreat in Washington, DC. For 4 days and nights I was able to see the visions and values of youth advocates from all over the United States as well as Uganda, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Nepal. Students from all over the United States have come together to raise their voices on Abstinence-Only Programs. The conversations I have shared with other youth advocates have given me a better understanding of the United States sexual education policies. And I believe that if enough of us raise our voices, we as a generation can change the Abstinent-Only Policies of our nation.
I enjoyed Angel Brown’s (Senior Program Manager GLBTQ Health and Rights) presentation on HIV Vaccine Research, ARV’s and Prevention Strategy. This session gave those that were uninformed about HIV a basic overview of vaccine research and antiretroviral drugs. We also explored how current research and treatment approaches are impacting prevention strategies. We also had a chance to present ourselves to different youth advocate groups from all over the United States as S.W.A.R.M. (Students With A Responsible Message). Aimee Thorne-Thomsen (Vice President for Strategic Partnerships) a very kind woman in my view, sat down to speak with me about sexual education and families.
I didn’t grasp the idea why my younger family members would come to me before they would go to their parents. But she explained that they might be more comfortable talking to me rather than their parents. Our group conversations have shown me that the days have changed when youth were more open and unafraid to ask their parents about sex. It should shock the public conscience when youth are starting to ask questions before they reach their teens. I have seen many instances were youth have been caught in situations they could have avoided, if only they were taught sexual education.
Martin Luther King once said that our lives begin to end “the day we become silent about things that matter”. We maybe dreamers and we may be ignorant in politician’s eyes on the policies we would like to change. But our vision embraces the right of all young people to have the sexual health education and services they need to protect their health.