What Does it Mean to Become an Advocate?
Speaking up for something that you care about makes you an advocate. Advocates make a difference by expressing their concerns and desires to friends, family, neighbors, and, ultimately, the people that have the power to make a change.You can advocate for anything-whether it's after-school activities at the community center, new uniforms for the young people that play in the local Little League, or a more comprehensive sexuality education program at school. It only takes one person to make a difference!
Get Informed. Find out about the sexuality education program in your local school. Ask your children, teachers, principals, superintendents, and school board members about the programs that are being taught in your community.
Contact the maternal and child health program within your state's health department to determine local organizations that have received federal and state funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. (Check the "blue pages" or government pages of your local phone book for contact information.)
Conduct a local poll or organize a focus group discussion to find out how local residents feel about sexuality education.
Join networks that will keep you informed. SIECUS' Advocates Network is one way to keep on top of the critical federal and state developments related to sexuality education and sexual health issues.You can sign up online at www.siecus.org/policy/Advocates/advo0000.html or call SIECUS in Washington, DC at 202/265-2405.
Make a Difference in Your Community
It's never too soon to get involved! Advocate early for sexuality education so that your school will have a comprehensive program in place by the time your children are old enough to attend. To become an advocate for your local sexuality education program, get support, get involved, and get the message out.These strategies can help you support a comprehensive sexuality education program as well as challenge abstinence-only programs in your community.
What is Sexuality Education?
One of the most important things parents and caregivers can do is to help their children develop a healthy attitude toward sexuality. While parents and caregivers are the main ones to teach their children about sexuality issues, school-based programs can supplement what young people learn at home.
Contact local family planning, teen pregnancy prevention, HIV prevention, and advocacy organizations to find out what groups or coalitions are already working on this issue and how you can participate.
Create a community group that supports school sexuality education programs that are comprehensive. Have parents, caregivers, community members, and students sign a statement or petition of support.
Encourage your local Parent Teacher Association/ Organization (PTA/O) to participate in this issue. Ask them to endorse your efforts. Consider making a presentation on the importance of a comprehensive sexuality education program at their next meeting and bring young people to provide testimonials.
Involve faith-based organizations. Many denominations have affirmed the need for sexuality education both within their own faith and in public schools. Ask religious leaders who support comprehensive sexuality education programs to discuss the issue with their congregation.
Reprinted with the permission of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. © 2005 SIECUS.
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