I’m terrible at finding and following rules for these things, but I do have something to say. So I’m figuring the way I do it will be good enough, regardless of said rules. And maybe aagblog who is coordinating the blog-a-thon will help me figure out how to get linked into everyone else.
Scarleteen was not my only resource. Not in high school, not in college, not as I moved into adulthood. But it has always been my go-to.
Growing up Unitarian Universalist in a medium-sized suburb, I had access to one of the best sex ed classes available to children and youth anywhere. It’s now called OWL although it wasn’t at the time. It covered it all–body parts and what goes where and how and plumbing questions…and healthy relationships and consent and birth control and STIs and being queer and…yeah, all of it. In mixed company.
I cannot TELL you how much of a blessing that was.
What it meant was that when I had my first relationship (with someone who also had taken the classes) it went brilliantly. The conversations, the decisions, the first kiss. I never did anything I didn’t want to, and I never felt like there was anything I couldn’t explore doing if I did want to try it. It was healthy. There was communication. There was laughter. There were let’s-try-it’s and oopses. And okay-lets-try-agains. Much healthier than some other relationships I had later.
Looking back, I could not be happier with how it went.
It was that class that eventually landed me here, doing this work, helping people figure their sexualities out and dive deeper into them. What turns you on, what turns you off? What do you wish you could try and why do you feel like you can’t try it? Where are your stuck? Where do you need some limits? How can we build you community?
My class gave me practice talking about stuff. But Scarleteen was my ongoing source. When I moved away from the very cool head children’s librarian who made sure that all the books I might need were on the shelf under their Dewey decimal numbers, I was at a loss. My college town? Not so much. Alas, Scarleteen didn’t exist yet. But it was the early 90′s so I did have newsgroups and email and I suppose interlibrary loan, but I just went for the college library (which used Library of Congress) HQ section and a lot of research.
Happily, by the time I moved to the end of the earth (the first time), the internet had gotten itself up and running. Just barely, but just enough. And with that, Scarleteen. I found it in the sidebar from Scarlet Letters, and my life changed.
I wasn’t a teen, but I didn’t care. Information! Right there! For real! Someone with the same values as I had, and access to a city library, clearly. Oh, happy day.
Information I had formerly pieced together from outdated books and unreliable newsgroups was right there. I could read, I could search. Best of all, I could send OTHER people there to read and search, in the privacy of their own homes. When you live at the end of the earth, that matters, because no one wants anyone else to know what they’re doing. Checking a book out of the library can be gossip fodder for weeks.
And who wants to feed the rumor mill?
In the years since its launch, Scarleteen has come a long way. So have I. And now? Now I send everyone there for information. Parents. Teens. Nervous adults. Everyone.
Community. Information. I’m-not-alone-or-crazy meets what-do-I-do-NOW meets sex-is-not-about-shame. What better lesson than an active and in-depth site populated by the real stories and real answers of thousands upon thousands of people? It teaches about sex and relationships and growth and puberty, but it also teaches how to approach sex–by setting a no-nonsense, accessible, in-depth, nonjudgmental example.
How would your life have been different with such a thing? How does it change things now for you and for those you love?
here’s the scoop:
What Scarleteen Needs: Last year, Scarleteen needed increased donations in order to get through the end of 2009 and into 2010, in large part because private donations for a few years previous had been so low and left us in a very financially precarious position. We increased our financial goals to reflect the need for a minimum annual operating budget of $70,000. Thanks to generous contributions from our supporters in response to that appeal, while we were not able to reach that level, we were able to raise what we needed to not only get through 2009, but were able to use the funds wisely to sustain the organization through 2010. Our goal now is to continue to work toward that annual operating budget. Ideally, we would like to see a minimum of $20,000 in individual donations each year to combine with funding from private grants. In order for that to happen, we need for current donors to keep giving, and we also also need to cultivate new donors.
This minimum budget is exceptionally cost-effective for the level of service we provide, especially compared to other organizations and initiatives whose budgets are far higher, including those which do not match our reach and our level of direct-service. If you would like more details about our budget and expenses, just contact us via email and we’ll gladly share that information with you.
A $100 donation can pay half of our server bill for a month, or half the monthly cost of the text-in service, or can fund any kind of use of the site, including one-on-one counsel and care, for around 10,000 of our daily users. However, we very much appreciate donations at any level.
If you can, please support Scarleteen by clicking here.