Debbie Billings is one of Tell Them’s first Ambassadors. In this role, she has taken on a responsibility to integrate sexual and reproductive health issues into conversations. She wants everyone to know that, not only is it okay to talk about these issues, we actually need to. We need to figure out ways to talk about these issues by finding commonalities between advocates and the people they are speaking with. Sexual and reproductive health issues affect everyone, even the legislators. Through her work at Tell Them, Debbie can inform people of the everyday consequences of inadequate sex education or contraceptive access.
“Generally, most people aren’t thinking about these issues, or they’re thinking ‘How do I talk about them?’”
In high school, Debbie had friends who became pregnant. None of them knew what they were supposed to do to have safe sex. They had heard bits and pieces from their peers about what you should or shouldn’t do, but whether any of that information is true is questionable. Looking back, she wishes she had more information and could have talked to her fellow classmates about sexual health.
“Young people don’t have to be ignorant, and they shouldn’t be!”
Talk is so important, but so is listening. We can have all the facts we need and the confidence to talk about our stance, but if we aren’t listening to the other side we’ll never be able to understand the issue. More importantly, we don’t listen just so we can respond. We listen to show we care about what people are saying.
“And you don’t have to give a response! You can ask questions to make sure you really understand why they are taking this position. And then you can come in.”
Speaking of good listeners, apparently Debbie’s husband rocks at it. She sees him as one of her role models because of his patience and understanding. Shout out to awesome spouses.