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Youth Perspective: The Importance of Sexual Health in the Southern, African-American Community

Christina Clark | May 9, 2024

During Sex Ed for All Month we have invited youth to share their perspectives on sexual health in whatever way it impacts their lives. Enjoy this blog by V.P. 

The Importance of Sexual Health in the Southern, African-American Community 

As a young, African-American woman, the lack of sexual health education is detrimental to myself and the development of my community. Being from Mississippi and now residing in Alabama for school, I have encountered a lot of miseducation and stigma surrounding sexual health. Mississippi and Alabama both sit in the top ten for highest STD rates per state, and the bottom ten for state education rankings. They also have high teen pregnancy rates and some of the largest Black populations in the United States. Given all these factors, it is basically pre-destined for Black adolescents in the Southern region to have a harder time being properly educated around the topic of sexual health and wellness. 

Being a young woman progressing through the educational system, at some point I began to notice that my peers and I had never been formally talked to or educated on the matter of sex. With little education around sexual health and natural curiosity, we all began to either self-educate or self-experiment. I saw many of my peers have the misfortune of having to learn by experience, whether it was an early pregnancy or STD scare. This was the only learning experience most of us had and most of these experiences only resulted in bullying and isolation due to being  our young age and the stigma around sex being so heavy. Even as I’ve moved on to college, I have noticed that sexual wellness is still not properly prioritized within my own college community. 

The saying “it starts at home” holds true in the situation of Black adolescents not being properly educated on sexual wellness. Not only is it seen as taboo in most African-American homes to discuss anything sex related, but some parents are even less equipped than their children to start up the conversation. It is highly imperative to not only implement sex education into school curriculums, but also just as important to offer learning opportunities to all age demographics. Passing out contraceptives with educational brochures, hosting sexual education

classes within the city, and even just making sure that individuals are aware of surrounding support and resources could be essential to our fight in advancing African-American sexual wellness. The topic of sexual health and wellness typically starts with family, so making sure to reach audiences outside of adolescents is important when trying to cover all bases. 

As time passes on, sex has become less of a daunting topic and more of a free-for-all discussion. In becoming more socially acceptable, it has also begun to cause unsafe sex practices, thus making the need for sexual education even more important. While we are pressing towards a society where sex is not seen as something to be ashamed of, it is important that we repair those areas that have seen immense damage from stigmas and preconceived notions. The earlier the initiative is taken to properly educate people on sexual health, the more likely it is to trickle down from generation to generation, therefore moving us towards a more sex-positive way of living.

Featured image by Mike Von on Unsplash



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