Updates and Happy Holidays from TeenNow!

Wishing you and yours a HAPPY HOLIDAY and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And…Our holiday gift to you! All throughout December, get a 20% discount off of the 2013 membership rate! Hurry, this offer only lasts until Dec. 31st! Membership discount

Give a gift in honor of someone you know who has overcome the odds. We’re raising money to support our teen scholarship program! Every year, we give out scholarships to eight California teen parents and one California teen student leader to help them go on to secondary education-college or vocational school-after they graduate from high school. Scholarships applications will be available on our website in January. These scholarships are vital to help young people achieve their goals, and you can help! A small donation of $20 can contribute to the education of a teen in your area. Please help now. California youth need opportunities to succeed! Fundraising Goal: $3,400 Campaign Runs Until Jan. 31st, 2013

You’re Invited: Board President Send-Off/Welcome

When: Friday December 21, 2013 at 5:30pm
Where: Jake’s Wine Bar in Hillcrest
What: Please join us to wish outgoing TeenNow California Board President Brian Hayes well as he moves on! We’ll also be welcoming incoming Board President Jennifer Barber! All are welcome. Jake’s will be donating 10% of checks over $10 to TeenNow.

Broadway San Diego and TeenNow Team up for Fundraiser: We are teaming up for a special fundraiser with Broadway San Diego! Purchase tickets for Billy Elliot and a nice percentage will be donated to TeenNow. Holiday gifts anyone?? Purchase anytime before the show.  Promocode: TNCA

Performance: Billy Elliot at Broadway San Diego

Tuesday April 30th @7pm

Wednesday May 1st @7pm

Thursday May 2nd, @7:30pm

Friday May 3rd @7:30pm

Sunday May 5th @6pm

Purchase tickets here: http://groups.broadwaysd.com/x-teennow.html

See you in 2013!


We Heard You!

Our members have made it clear: you want a conference! Despite budget cuts and trying times, our members and supporters recognize the importance of face-to-face meetings, so we’re providing them to you! It’s clear that our members and supporters need and want to convene, so we’re planning three regional meetings (North, Central, and South) in the Fall so that members can come together for learning opportunities, networking, and capacity building! These meetings will be formatted differently than our usual conferences so we can make them as affordable as possible to attend.

We are holding three regional meetings:

  • Sacramento-September 28th, 2012
  • Fresno-October 4th, 2012
  • San Diego-October 8th 2012

Come to one, or join us for all of them! Stay tuned for more exciting information about these meetings and their content, and mark your calendars! For more information, e-mail us at tnca@teennowcalifornia.org, or call 619-741-9650. Thanks, and see you at the conference!

Exhibitors Wanted!
We are looking for vendors, agencies and others to exhibit at our Regional meetings! Exhibitor registration is currently open for the Sacramento meeting, on Sept. 28th; for the other meetings look for registration in the coming days. Find out more.

Call for Videos, Photos, and Testimonials – Your 30 seconds of FAME!

Hello valued members!  We are putting together a short “ask” film to be used to raise funds for Teen Now California’s many projects such as, teen parent scholarship program, advocacy efforts, technical assistance and more. If your membership to our organization has been helpful to you in your work, we want to hear from you! We are looking for short and concise testimonials on your work in teen pregnancy prevention, membership experience or how TeenNow California supports you in the work you do. We are accepting any footage you feel could be used for this purpose even if you’ve used it for your agency programs (please ask permission to share it). You may use your smartphone, computer webcam, or personal camcorder for submissions. Record  a personal testimonial, a group of colleagues, or students you work with and are willing to contribute for their 30 seconds of fame! Photos and written testimonials are also very helpful and may be included in the video. We prefer videos in MP.4 format, but any format or link is fine. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance! Please email materials to lschmidt@teennowcalifornia.org by August 24th. Enjoy your next webinar on us if your submission is used in our video! Thanks again for your commitment to this work and support of our mission to increase the knowledge, skills and resources of individuals concerned with preventing teen pregnancy, supporting young families, and promoting adolescent sexual health.

The Purity Myth–Book Review

The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women

Book reviewed by Lena Schmidt

“Any way you slice it, women’s identities are so tied up with whether or not we’ve had sex, or how sexual or abstinent we are, that it’s become almost impossible to think of ourselves as women outside of that framework. And really, while it’s pop culture that gets the most attention in this regard, it’s the virginity movement that’s reinforcing the notion” (79)

There is no working medical definition for virginity. Most Americans support comprehensive sex education.  And yet federal money sponsors archaic purity balls and misleading abstinence-only education. In The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti uses cringe-inducing anecdotes, examples, and a colloquial, yet serious tone to address these issues. Valenti demonstrates that the conflation of sexuality and morality, the passive model of womanhood upheld by the virginity movement, the misinformation provided by abstinence-only programs, and messages espoused by religious institutions and the media are hurting young women.

The “purity myth” is the idea that women can be pure and that if they are, they are good. Valenti argues, however, that the forces of sexism, homophobia, racism, and money make this standard practically impossible. As Valenti notes, historically, interest in virginity was about establishing paternity. And although each woman gives virginity personal meaning, the current social and political definitions affect women on a large scale (22). Valenti argues that the main objective of the purity myth is to enforce traditional gender roles. She explains, “virginity has become the easy morality fix. Idolizing virginity as a stand-in for women’s morality means that nothing else matters—not what we accomplish, not what we think about, not what we care about and work for. Just if/how/whom we have sex with” (24). Valenti explains that programs that promote this doctrine have an anti-feminist social agenda masquerading as teen pregnancy prevention. As one purity ball proponent says, “We want to do everything we can to help them enter marriage as pure, whole persons” (69). Valenti finds boiling down a girl’s ability to be a “whole” person to her being a virgin problematic and challenges us to differently measure women’s worth.

Valenti takes issue with abstinence-only programs and purity balls, the most visible and well funded arms of the virginity movement. Most of us are aware of how subject girls are to inappropriate sexual attention, and how younger and younger women are presented as sex objects in the media. What is news, though, is how this sexualization is coming from someplace other than an easy-to-blame hypersexualized pop culture—it’s also coming from the virginity movement” (69). For example, “while proponents of date nights [between fathers and daughters] and purity balls argue that they’re aiming to protect girls from sexualization, by focusing on girls’ virginity they’re actually positioning girls as sexual objects before they’ve even hit puberty” (69). This message, combined with abstinence-only education that “tell[s] young people that using condoms is like playing Russian roulette,” means they’ll be less likely to use a condom, not that they’ll be less likely to have sex (105). Valenti cites a 2007 study from Congress which found that middle school students who had received abstinence-only education were just as likely to have sex as teenagers as those who had not. So, Valenti notes, “if students who take abstinence classes are just as likely to have sex as their peers, but have less information about how to protect themselves from pregnancy and STIs—or worse, believe they cannot prevent pregnancy and STIs at all—that leaves them completely unprotected” (119).  Bottom line, according to Valenti: girls are sexualized by many arenas of society, given little guidance to develop into sexually healthy adults, and punished for any non-pure behaviors.

Valenti insists virginity shouldn’t be revered at the expense of women’s well-being. With all the focus on young girls “being good,” where is the purity movement when a woman is raped? Or contracts cervical cancer? Or has a baby? Or comes out as lesbian? This lack of support, arguably, is what is really hurting young women.

This conundrum is particularly harmful to young women of color and women who have survived coerced sexual behavior. Valenti points out, “in the media, the sexuality of young women of color—especially African Americans and Latinas—is never framed as “good girls gone bad” (as it generally is with white girls); rather, they’re depicted as having some degree of pathologized sexuality from the get-go. This reinforces a disturbing cultural narrative: that “innocent” white girls are being lured into an oversexualized culture, while young black women are already part of it” (47). Similarly disturbing, “federal guidelines for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs associate sexual abstinence with all things virtuous and sexual activity with a life doomed to failure. Not only is this untrue, but it serves to inflict greater harm upon those who have survived coerced sexual behavior. Such messages are likely to cause further feelings of hurt, shame, anger, and embarrassment…” (109). This attitude is particularly troubling as Valenti reminds, “Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them” (151).

To combat the purity myth and encourage healthy development of sexuality, Valenti offers the following suggestions:

  • Take a sex positive approach: Trust young people enough to tell them the truth about sex and sexuality–that it is supposed to be pleasurable!
  • Support comprehensive sex education: “it’s time to take a stance on sex education that isn’t so passive—young people deserve accurate and comprehensive sex education not just because they’re going to have sex, but because there’s nothing wrong with having sex.”(120)
  • Rethink/redefine masculinity: “Because as long as men are disconnected from women, as long as they’re taught that we’re not what to be, and as long as they believe that the only way to define themselves is through women’s bodies and sexuality, the purity myth will live on” (187)

This book is highly recommended for teachers, counselors, parents, or anyone concerned with the world young women grow up in today. The book is also recommended for young men and women interested in learning some complexities of the world they live in, and how they can use their knowledge to challenge systems that oppress them.

To learn about and support comprehensive sex education in California, become a member of TeenNow California: http://teennowcalifornia.org/Join.php

Announcements and such!

From the Operations and Communications Coordinator:

TeenNow California has been busy! We continue to advocate for comprehensive sex education and teen parents throughout California. We have some exciting announcements and upcoming events:

  • Thank you to all who submitted scholarship applications and poster contest submissions! We will review applications and notify applicants in early May. Email us at tnca@teennowcalifornia.org if you have any questions.
  • We are conducting a membership survey to help better guide us over the next few years, to help us continue to offer services and programs that are relevant to you and to California youth. We hope that you can take a few minutes to fill out a brief survey. If you complete the survey and provide us with your name, you will be entered to win a free TeenNow California webinar, good through the end of 2012. Below is the link to the survey. Please take a few minutes and fill it out so we can better serve you. All your answers will be kept confidential and used only in the aggregate. This survey opportunity will be open until April 30th. Thank you in advance! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TNCA2012Survey
  • We have been hosting some great webinars lately! Our most recent was about “Challenging Gender Norms in Teen Sexuality Education.” Our next webinar will be on Wednesday May 2, 2012 from 12pm-1pm and will be about “Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advocacy: What You Can Do.” Register and learn how you can be an advocate! As always, discounts for members. Keep up to date with webinars and events on our events page: http://teennowcalifornia.org/events.php
  • I was inspired by the presentations and organizations at Sex::Tech 2012 in San Francisco! Look for a write-up of the experience in this blog soon.
  • I just finished reading The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti…look for my review of the book in this blog soon. I will be reading and reviewing What You really Really Want by Jaclyn Friedman andNot Under My Roof by Amy Schalet…look for the reviews in this blog soon.
  • We are working on organizing Sex Ed Film Festivals in the Bay Area in Northern California and in Los Angeles! We loved the discussions happening at the Sex Ed Film Festival we hosted at San Diego State in 2011 and we’re thrilled to bring this educational forum and several interesting films to incite discussions about sexuality education. Save the dates coming soon.
  • Stay in the loop on what’s happening in sexuality education and teen pregnancy prevention in California by joining our email list: http://teennowcalifornia.org/ or following us on Twitter or “like” us on Facebook

Some Inspriation For The Week

I came across this quote today and it really spoke to me (despite the male-centric language). Sometimes, especially in times like these when we feel that attacks are coming at us from all sides, it’s easy to feel discouraged. We need to keep the end goal in mind–the health and well-being of California youth. This is why we fight budget cuts, try to encounter attacks against access to contraception and sex education, and continue to strive to provide excellent education and services to youth so they can have the information and resources they need to make healthy decisions. I hope this moves you as much as it moved me.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
A passage from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” April 23, 1910

TeenNow California Poster Contest!

TeenNow California is pleased to announce our statewide Sexual Health Poster Contest! The poster contest  is intended to engage teens in creative dialogue about sexuality, healthy relationships, and positive goals.
Teens: Make a poster. Tell us what being sexually healthy means to you. Pick one topic or many. Does it mean you talk to your partner about STDs and HIV? Does it mean you don’t have sex? Does it mean you accept your own sexual orientation? Does it mean you speak up when you see relationship violence? Does it mean you use birth control?  We want to know what it means to YOU. Be creative!
Topic: What does being sexually healthy mean to you?
Judging: Posters will be judged on creativity, accuracy, and sexually healthy messages in line with TeenNow California’s mission. Please see rules and regulations below.
Prizes: Top 3 winners and the runners up will have their poster featured in a 2013 calendar. Top 3 winners will also get prizes:
1st Place: $100 gift card
2nd Place: $50 gift card
3rd Place: $25 gift card
Contest Dates:
February 8-March 30, 2012
All posters must be submitted via email, mail, or fax by March 30.
By Email: tnca@teennowcalifornia.org
By Mail: TeenNow California, Poster Contest, 3468 Citrus St. Suite F. Lemon Grove, CA 91945
By Fax: 619-741-9643
Rules and Regulations
  • Submissions must be emailed, faxed, or postmarked by March 30, 2012.
  • Participants must be between 12 and 19 years old by submission deadline.
  • Poster size limitation: 8.5″ by 11″
  • Poster may contain hand drawn images, computer graphics, words, poetry, mixed media collages, and photographs. Please do not send music CDs or videos with your poster submission.
  • Posters containing violent messages or profanity will be disqualified.
  • Email submissions must be in PDF, JPG, BMP, Microsoft Office Document, or Adobe Document format.
  • Please include contact information along with poster (on the back of the poster, in the email, in the fax, in the envelope…anywhere, just include it please). TeenNow members: if you are sponsoring an entry, include your own contact info as well.
  • Participants agree to allow submissions to be used for promotional purposes for TeenNow California.

Member Special: For every teen sponsored, members receive $5 off next due membership fee. Join today to qualify. Membership not required, but highly encouraged, for contest participation.