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By Shelby, Sex Educator and Youth Activist, 17, Lubbock, TX

A Spokesperson Against The Odds
In Lubbock, Texas, a pastor teaches sex education in the schools. In Lubbock, we have the highest rates of STDs in the state of Texas. And in Lubbock, I have become one of the few voices opposed to the scare tactics imposed on young people as "sex education."

I began my activism at age 13, when a girl in my math class was forced to move to an alternative school because she was pregnant. Her boyfriend had told her she couldn't get pregnant her first time, and the school nurse had told her to ask her parents if that was true.

Angered, I quickly became involved with the Lubbock Youth Commission, a group already in the early stages of advocating for sex education. Within my first few weeks, I gave a presentation to the school board on the irresponsibility of their abstinence-only policy. A week after that, I was placed on a list of the district's 'problem' students and a letter was sent to the principal at my school.

I became a media spokesperson for the Youth Commission and began learning about the importance of comprehensive sex education. I made public service announcements and commercials, and I organized rallies in support of comprehensive sex ed. Two years after my first presentation, I returned to give my message to the school board. Backed by the youth of Lubbock, I presented a three-step plan for implementing real sex education into the curriculum. The members promised to look into it, and an exploratory committee has been formed. A tiny step, perhaps, but at least a step in the right direction.

Soon I will begin teaching sex ed classes at the health department, and I am being considered for membership on Planned Parenthood's board of directors. Lubbock's STD rates have fallen drastically for the first time in ten years, and the Texas Health Department gives credit to the efforts of the Lubbock Youth Commission. We don't have sex ed yet, but the community is definitely more aware. If my work has kept one young woman from getting pregnant, or convinced even one guy to get tested, then I consider my activism a success.

 Meet More Young Activists Who Are Making a Difference

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  Photo: courtesy of Advocates for Youth, Washington, DC


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Thanks to all who participated in the FFYR: Protect Yourself "Online Talk Show" hosted by SuChin Pak with Real World's Trishelle, Steven, and Leslie Kantor, a sexual health expert. Check back to view the entire discussion.

 Read The Transcript Now
 SEX, ETC Colum: Trishelle and Steven's Pregnancy Scare (December '03)

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