This is probably going to be my favorite article yet! I know, there’s a bit of bias because I’m a part of the group, but it’s only because I’m passionate. The Safe Sex Project has made a bunch of groundbreaking actions after successfully completing The Barb Schmidt Fellowship at the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in 2019. And yes, there are condoms and sex talk involved.
I’m super excited to be writing about our organization!
“Let’s not be afraid to talk about sex.” — The Safe Sex Project
So, here’s the big button question: what’s The Safe Sex Project?
Safe Sex Project: We are a youth activist group focused on providing comprehensive and inclusive safer sex education to all teens. We have all experienced the injustice the education system poses us with in terms of the limited and hetero-centric safer sex education. So, when we met at the Barb Schmidt Fellowship at FAU, a program dedicated to fostering activism in high school students, we knew we had to seize the opportunity to act. This was in December 2018. Since then, we have held two summits where we invite teens to be educated by community professionals like doctors, psychologists and educators who can provide upfront and factual information about safer sex to all teens.
Awesome! So, how has the journey been like for your organization?
SSP: Thankfully, it has been a smooth road because we are passionate and dedicated to the work that we do. We are a handful of college and high school students that set aside our leisure time to make this possible. We have hustled to plan events and increase attendance by keeping up with busy social media and contacting everyone we know to attend. Through this work, we went from a summit of fifteen attendees in one small classroom in April 2019 to sixty attendees filling five separate classrooms in November of 2019. We are also extremely thankful to FAU, Barb Schmidt and our professor and mentor, Karen Leader, for helping us make our vision into a reality. In addition, we have teamed up with Kayla Lawson of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, who has also been an incredible help and has provided us with mentorship and networking opportunities that have helped us take our organization to the next level.
That sounds amazing. What’s your niche? How do you operate within your organization?
SSP: We focus on providing inclusive and comprehensive safer sex education to all teens regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities or race. We recognize a gap in the education system that is failing students like us and we are working to fill it. We do this through two channels. The first is social media campaigns that focus on destigmatizing sex and increasing awareness of the need for youth sexual education. The second channel is what we are most known for, our Safe Sex Summits. We hold events where we invite community partners to teach teens about safer sex practices, whether it be the use of contraceptives, coming to terms with gender identity or sexual orientation or consent and dating violence. We are different than other organizations of our type because we are run fully by youth. Everyone on our board is 19-years-old or younger, so we are very close to this issue. In addition, we are extremely hands on and insert ourselves into the community in order to learn its needs and provide them accordingly.
So, here’s a wild card question: if you could change anything about your experience so far, what would it be?
SSP: Honestly, nothing. We are still young, so we haven’t had time to make many mistakes, but we hope to learn from them if we do make them in the future.
Enough said: no regrets! Okay, what inspired your team to pick the topic of safer sex practices?
SSP: We formed our organization based on our own experience as public-school students, as we felt that the formal sexual education we received, or lack thereof, was discouraging and antiquated. This is particularly important to South Florida as Broward and Miami Dade counties had some of the highest numbers of new HIV/AIDS cases in the last decade. A sexual education curriculum that is inclusive and comprehensive will ultimately help young people make better choices going into their adult life on their own terms, not an unrealistic expected community standard of abstinence. Furthermore, the big-ticket item of our mission is to be inclusive. With all of the members on our team being people of color (P.O.C) and/or a part of the LGBTQ+ community, we want to make sure everyone is equally represented and involved within the conversation of safer sex. Nobody is left behind!
So, it’s a new decade! What are your goals for 2020?
SSP: In 2020, we want to continue growing and learning as an organization, and continue to plan our Safe Sex Summits in an effort to make each one more engaging and interactive than the last. This year all of the members of the executive board will officially be off to college, which holds the potential for continued growth across Florida and whatever states the current high school seniors end up in.
What’s next for The Safe Sex Project?
SSP: We are currently in the process of planning our third Safe Sex Summit for spring 2020. The theme for this summit is “HerHealth,” and the content of the presentations will be geared toward womxn’s issues, being careful to be inclusive of all who identify as womxn. We decided to use the term “womxn” to be inclusive to all individuals who fall into this identity: transgender women, non-binary and queer individuals, cisgender women, and all of those who use she/her pronouns! By engaging South Florida womxn, we hope to provide a space for them to learn about their sexual health with an underlying feminist message.
What your social media and website so people can learn more about you?
Do you have any way for people to donate to your cause? I would imagine there’s a bunch of people who want to support your mission!
SSP: Yes! We currently have a GoFundMe link. We appreciate every and any donations given to us.
All images provided by the author.