Each year, an estimated 3-million adolescents are infected with STIs, accounting for 25% of the estimated 12 million new STIs occurring annually in the United States. With regards to adolescent sexual health, regulations laid out within the academic standards for health, safety, and physical education only require that students “analyze factors that impact growth and development between adolescence and adulthood.” This includes “abstinence” and “STD and HIV prevention.” The GLSEN 2013 National School Climate Survey found that fewer than 5% of LGBTQ students had health classes in their schools that included positive representations of LGBTQ-related topics. Among Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) surveyed in 2015, only 12 percent said their sex education classes covered same-sex relationships. Transgender (Trans), gender non-conforming, and non-binary youth are at an even greater risk given that they are even less visible in sex education programs. In the same GLSEN report, Millennials state that no group faces more negative social judgment than transgender people. The majority of trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary youth described the sex education they received as “irrelevant, unhelpful, or hurtful” because of an exclusively heterosexual and cisgender focus.
Mazzoni Center’s Yes, PLEASE! Sexual Health and Wellness Program embraces all identities and experiences and delivers comprehensive, evidence-based sexuality education to its young audiences. Through an inclusive curriculum rich with relatable discussions and engaging activities in a safe and fun environment. Yes, PLEASE! embodies the willing, adaptable, and enthusiastic participation of young people across the country who are eager for information that has long been suppressed. At Mazzoni Center, we provide workshops on a variety of sexual health-related topics to support the inclusion of our LGBTQ youth in a classroom setting. The activities included in the Yes, PLEASE! curriculum utilize a wide variety of local and national resources and our trained staff have received feedback from participants who strongly agree that their mentors are responsive, organized, supportive, engaging, enthusiastic, and motivating. By the end of the series, a majority of participants report that they feel they have control over their sexual health. Workshops in this curriculum have been employed successfully in Philadelphia schools since the program’s inception in 1999. The updated sessions have been effectively tested with young people since January 2016. The contents of the curriculum are modified as needed to retain relevance but preserve accuracy.