Maria Print

As a recipient of abstinence-only sex education, I spent a lot of my adolescent years confused and scared about sexuality and pregnancy. Through my college years, I have found out firsthand about the personal empowerment and safety that comes with gaining knowledge and resources about sexual health and rights.

Maria works with Advocates for Youth and Tell Them as a State Activist in South Carolina.

As a recipient of abstinence-only sex education, I spent a lot of my adolescent years confused and scared about sexuality and pregnancy. Through my college years, I have found out firsthand about the personal empowerment and safety that comes with gaining knowledge and resources about sexual health and rights. This empowerment, coupled with memories of my confused past, makes me strive for a better sexual education experience for our youth. No one should have to fear the consequences of sex because of their lack of information, as I did.

Last year, I was excited to have the opportunity to become a member of Tell Them and Advocates for Youth’s first youth council, Knowledge Is Best, in South Carolina. We focus on promoting comprehensive, medically accurate sex education for public schools through our respective colleges. The experience has been invaluable and eye-opening; nearly everyone on my campus in Charleston is for REAL sex education! I hosted several very successful events on my campus including a letter writing party and a sexual health and pleasure panel. People of my age are in a special position. We see the repercussions of the lacking sex education model; we have friends who have or are getting pregnant, we are warned ubiquitously of STIs, and, of course, we all know we wish we knew a little bit more about sex!

I have also had the amazing opportunity to do quite a bit of traveling, and this has also deepened my interest in sexual health and rights. Having just returned from a six-week volunteer session in Guatemala, my awareness of the need for sex education and contraceptive access is more profound than ever. I am certain that a focus on sexual health and rights, including education and contraceptive access, is a key proponent to relieving poverty, women’s rights issues, and human rights grievances.

I am excited to continue my work in this area and share that spark with as many other people as I can. When we all start to see ourselves as activists, we can really become a collective agent of change.

 
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