Target: Nevada Teen Health & Safety Coalition founder Caitlyn Caruso
Goal: Applaud efforts to bring comprehensive sex education to Nevada schools
Public school sex education is a sad state of affairs for teens who want honest answers about sexuality and safety. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a mere 22 states (plus the District of Columbia) require schools to have sex education programs – and just 18 of those states require those programs to include information on contraception. By contrast, fully half of American states stress abstinence-only sex education. Many public school sex ed classes provide misinformation, use scare tactics, and focus on perpetuating a hetero-normative understanding of sex and relationships to discourage teens from having important and accurate conversations about sex. So when the Clark County School District in Nevada recently opened up a public forum for students and parents to discuss the school system’s sex education curriculum, student Caitlyn Caruso decided it was time for students to start organizing around the need for accurate, comprehensive sex education.
Caruso formed Nevada Teen Health & Safety Coalition to give students a voice in these proceedings. Students from the group held signs and represented themselves at a recent board meeting, telling board members and trustees that the current curriculum is too vague and focuses too much on traditional heterosexual relationships. Students want to see a focus on issues they actually face, such as rape, sexual assault, and navigating complex sexual identities. As a survivor herself, Caruso understands the importance of breaking down the outdated abstinence-only model. She told 8 News Now, “I’m invested in this because I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did. I entered sex ed as a rape survivor and I was overwhelmed with this message that if you have sex before marriage, you’re disgusting.”
It’s time to stop shaming teens for having sex, and to start educating them about sexuality and the risks that accompany sex so that they have the tools for navigating their own sexuality. Without these tools, high teen pregnancy rates and sexual assault rates will only be perpetuated, and teens will continue to suffer. Commend Caruso and her group for the important work they are doing to bring attention to this issue.
Dear Caitlyn Caruso,
I am heartened by your efforts to provide a space for teens to emphasize the importance of comprehensive, accurate sex education in schools. By founding the Nevada Teen Health & Safety Coalition, you have not only helped empower students and bring them together to talk about sex ed, but you have also demonstrated to school and county officials that this is an issue students really do want to see addressed. As it seems conservative leaders have been working hard in recent years to take sexual autonomy away from teens and especially females, your organization could not be more timely in its promotion of sexual health and safety.
Thank you for starting the Nevada Teen Health & Safety Coalition. Thank you for working to provide a space for Nevadan teens to discuss their needs when it comes to sexual health and safety education in schools. Thank you for advocating for accurate, comprehensive sex education that will help to break down the hetero-normative, abstinence-only programs of the past.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bryancalabro via Wikimedia Commons