Comprehensive Sexual Health Education
Six years ago I accepted the opportunity to figure out a sustainable solution to the work my predecessor did regarding comprehensive sexual health education in the schools through the Garfield County PREP program. Originally, I had two years to find a workable solution. Luckily, the funding continued to stream from the federal to the state to the local level and will continue through September 2021 when an alternative plan will need to be instituted regarding funding.
The solution seemed apparent to me – train interested and available staff in the area middle and high schools so that if and when all funding streams went dry, the program could continue in the schools. To this date, Garfield County PREP has trained community members, school teachers, counselors, prevention specialists and other school staff who wouldn’t normally be teaching sexual health in their classroom.
It takes a certain person to have the comfort level and skills necessary to deliver the evidence-based lessons with fidelity. To remain value neutral, understand trauma, and how associated behaviors manifest in the classroom are skills that may not be as apparent or necessary in general education classrooms.
To dispel myths with facts through all the anonymous questions; and believe me there are questions
To build a safe community for the LGBTQ+ students who are 2X more likely as their straight peers to become pregnant by age 19
To demonstrate how to properly use condoms using a wooden demonstrator
To take time out of their regularly scheduled classes to attend the mandatory curricula training for a unit that will only last 5 – 7 lessons
To field questions and concerns from parents
are all HUGE requests on teachers.
Administrators have taken on the task of creatively scheduling so that classes can be delivered within their tight calendars; especially when health classes don’t exist.
For the teachers, staff, community members and parents who allowed this paradigm shift for the youth of the valley, I am eternally grateful. The successful results that Garfield County PREP has achieved over the past nine years in all could not have been possible without all of YOU!
All of this has allowed me to find ways to connect directly with youth through the summer intern program and Gender Sexuality Alliance groups I facilitate. It has allowed me to create opportunities for youth to engage in their communities and learn about resources available to them if they ever find themselves in crisis. It has allowed me to create some awesome relationships that without them none of this would have been possible. It has allowed me to be known to some as The Condom Fairy.
It is with deep appreciation that The Condom Fairy hangs up her wings for a new adventure. I won’t be going far, however, as I will now be doing tobacco and marijuana prevention from Aspen to Parachute out of Pitkin County Public Health. I hope to maintain many of the relationships I have built in order to throw the prevention net across a wider span. I want to thank everyone who helped make the Personal Responsibility Education Program a success in Garfield County. I hope to see you around. I’ll be the one helping others ‘kicking butts’!