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The Best of 2016

The Best of 2016

2016 was a year of growth, vision, and optimism in the field of youth sexual health education, and especially here at Colorado Youth Matter. As we enter the new year, it's important to reflect on lessons learned and carry them into the future - which is why we've compiled our top 5 blogs from 2016 that challenged the status quo and dug deep into some tricky topics. We hope revisiting these issues - including sexting, consent, and virginity - will keep you motivated and ready for the challenges and opportunities of 2017!

Sexual Dysfunction in Sex Ed

Sexual Dysfunction in Sex Ed

By Holly Ponton and Blaire Ward
December 14, 2016

In recent weeks we’ve discussed teaching pleasure in sex ed, how to frame that conversation with asexuality in mind, and we tackled difficulties with discussing pleasure in one of our recent TRUST blogs. But in doing some research, our evaluation coordinator, Blaire Ward, discovered that there’s yet another piece missing to this conversation: what about youth who are experiencing sexual dysfunction?

It's not like the movies

It's not like the movies

By Lorena Garcia, Director of Development
December 1, 2016

I laugh and sometimes cringe over how I see the social sector portrayed on TV or in the movies. The character from the social sector is usually a woman who is highly educated, who has memorized obscure philosophers she quotes on occasion. She is depicted as disheveled, often unorganized with frumpy clothing and an office that looks like a wind storm just blew through it. Her car? Most likely a pinto that requires her to kick the door three times and then say a magic word over the hood for it to start. The organization where she works is usually in a building that is about to be condemned because it doesn’t have any running water or heat.

Happy Thanksgiving from Colorado Youth Matter!

Happy Thanksgiving from Colorado Youth Matter!

By Andrea Miller, Executive Director
November 24, 2016

This year in particular, we find ourselves digging deep to reflect on what's important to our communities, our families, and to ourselves. With some of us still reeling from the impact of recent events, it's easy to become lost in the confusion and clutter of social media, the news and conversations around the water cooler. The need to give thanks seems more important than ever this Thanksgiving. It's important to take time to relax and enjoy each other's company during the holidays. Consider this Thanksgiving a reset for the soul.

I want to take a moment of your time to tell you just a few of the things we at Colorado Youth Matter are thankful for.

Coming Together for Homeless Youth

Coming Together for Homeless Youth

By Becca Bolden, Director of Grants Management
November 17, 2016

Last week, I had the privilege to represent Colorado Youth Matter at the Metro-Denver Forum on Homelessness Experienced by Youth, hosted by the Federal Regional Council on Homelessness for Region VIII. The day began with a forceful call to action considering that the election had occurred the night before; regardless of the election results, it didn’t change the fact that there were over 2,000 unaccompanied youth statewide and over 24,000 students lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate primary nighttime residence. Our work and collaboration is as important as ever before.

We Will Stand Together for Our Youth

We Will Stand Together for Our Youth

By Andrea Miller, Executive Director
November 10, 2016

Throughout the day yesterday I listened to the media, friends, and colleagues dissect and analyze what happened on Tuesday night. There was disbelief, shock, sadness, and anger. Morning traffic was lighter on Wednesday, as if people were staying home to mourn, regroup, or just keep the rest of the world out with the curtains closed. I don’t blame them. I, too, felt that sadness and disbelief. I thought I had woken up in an alternate universe. I was sure that we would find out there was some sort of computer glitch. Alas, this is our new reality. So what do we do now? Do we sit and mire in the grief over the next four years? Do we assume there’s nothing we can do, but wait for time to pass? Quite the contrary. This is a time for action, a time to move swiftly as advocates and supporters for the youth in our state.

Asexuality in Sex Ed

Asexuality in Sex Ed

By Tania Molinar-Castillo, Youth Advisor
November 3, 2016

In last week’s blog, we talked about why we have to start teaching pleasure in sex ed if we want to teach youth about consent. But there are risks with discussing pleasure in sex ed – namely, the risk that you might exclude or shame asexual students. So how can you talk about pleasure in sex ed and be inclusive of asexuality?

Pleasure and Consent

Pleasure and Consent

By Holly Ponton and Jessica Higgins
October 27, 2016

“Despite significant progress over the past few years, too many women and men on and off college campuses are still victims of sexual abuse,” Joe Biden said in February at the 2016 Oscars. “We must and we can change the culture, so that no abused woman or man, like the survivors you will see tonight, ever feel they have to ask themselves, what did I do wrong? They did nothing wrong.” And the crowd of Hollywood A-listers erupted into cheers and applause.

Raising The Bar reflections

Raising The Bar reflections

Raising The Bar has officially come and gone. The conference brought together educators, clinicians, and other professionals who are passionate about the sexual health of our youth from all around the state and the country. With interactive and engaging workshops, insightful keynotes, and passionate dialogue, the conference allowed us to bring new and inclusive practices into the work of youth sexual health education. Here are some of the reflections of conference attendees on their experience from Raising The Bar. 

Spotlight On: Jessica González-Rojas

Jessica GR pic

October 6, 2016

Jessica González-Rojas is the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health - not to mention our keynote speaker at the Youth Sexual Health reception coming up next Friday! In this Spotlight On edition, Jessica  describes the challenges she faces as a reproductive justice leader, the struggles and perseverance of the Latinx community, and what gives her hope for the future. 

 

Trauma-informed sex ed

Trauma-informed sex ed

By Ruthie Kolb, Training Manager
September 29, 2016

What does it mean to be trauma-informed when talking with young people about sexuality? Does it mean using lots of trigger warnings? Do you just need to avoid certain topics, words, or conversations? Or does it mean not talking about sensitive subjects, such as sexuality, at all? What exactly does it look like?

It’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s a topic that’s extremely relevant to the work of sex educators today. The reality is that topics around sex, sexuality, and sexual health are often directly related to traumatic events – which means we have to be extremely conscious of how these topics might harm students with past traumatic experiences.

A better world

A better world

By Holly Ponton, Capacity Building Manager
September 15, 2016

Our Raising the Bar conference is coming up in just a few weeks, providing teachers, clinicians, and other youth-serving professionals with an opportunity to strategize for the future of youth sexual health. We’ll discuss LGBT inclusivity, trauma-informed approaches, how to incorporate an understanding of technology into sex ed, and much more. In short, we’ll come together and dream up how to make the world better for youth – and then we’ll return to our communities and strive to make those strategies a reality.

And in the spirit of Raising the Bar, let’s dream big – really, really big. Because what if sex ed could prevent violence – not just domestic or intimate partner violence, but all kinds of violence? What if it could hinder prejudice, cruelty, fear of difference – what if it could change the entire world?

Spotlight On: Nora Gelperin

nora gelperin


September 1, 2016

Colorado Youth Matter had a chance to catch up with Nora Gelperin, director of sexuality education and training at Advocates for Youth, on how she got into the field of youth sexual health, what sets Advocates for Youth's "Rights. Respect. Responsibility," or "The 3Rs," sex ed curriculum apart from other curricula, and how she views the current state of youth sexual health.

Lisa Olcese's final call

Lisa Olcese's final call

By Lisa Olcese, Executive Director
August 25, 2016

As I approach my last week as executive director, I’d like to close with a vision for the future, rooted in something that’s been bugging me. And because I won’t just leave it at that, I invite you to join me in a personal call to action.

Back-to-School: Your Sex Ed Supply List

Back-to-School: Your Sex Ed Supply List

By Stefanie Winfield, Community Programs Director
August 18, 2016

It’s that time of the year again: that time when kids and youth grumpily accept that summer is coming to an end – and when parents rejoice that their kids are going back to school.

It’s also that time of so many back-to-school lists: what clothing will they need for the year? What books? What supplies? There are endless runs to Staples and Target – for backpacks, pencils, pens, notebooks, folders, and all manner of miscellaneous materials – in the hopes of being fully prepared for what a new year of academics will have in store.

These back-to-school lists can be life-saving. They help parents keep track of what needs to be accomplished before a new, busy school year begins. In the spirit of back-to-school supply lists, we here at Colorado Youth Matter would like to offer a back-to-school list of our own – a sex ed supply list.

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