California has some of the strongest laws protecting young people’s right to access sexual and reproductive health services and information. We wanted to learn more about the experiences that youth have had when accessing these services and how they think the California Healthy Youth Act, the most comprehensive sex education law in the country, will impact future generations.

Below are some of the responses we received from California youth.

Name: Oona Foley

Age: 16

Grade: 11

City: South Pasadena

ASHWG: Have you or your friends ever tried to access sexual health services, like getting an STD test or birth control? What was your experience like?

OONA: Recently, I was in need of an exam and turned to Planned Parenthood for help. I made an appointment online, which simplified the process. I also received multiple text reminders with information about my appointment. I was slightly confused about my ability receive out of network benefits from my insurance, but thankfully the Medical Receptionist was able to contact my insurance company and give me an estimate of their reimbursement.

ASHWG: How do you think the new law that makes comprehensive sex education required in all California schools (The California Healthy Youth Act) will impact you and your friends?

OONA: In theory, the passage of the California Healthy Youth Act should encourage a more inclusive and sex positive environment in high school health classes. Thoughtful implementation of the new curriculum would give teenagers access to comprehensive and accurate information, which is a huge step in the right direction. However, I have doubts about if and how well the new curriculum will be implemented.

Name: Emma Schlamm

Age: 22

Grade: Graduated college in 2016

City: San Francisco

ASHWG: Have you or your friends ever tried to access sexual health services like getting an STD test or birth control? What was your experience like?

EMMA: Attending a small college in a rural, conservative part of Pennsylvania made accessing sexual health services incredibly difficult at times.  There was only one pharmacy close to campus that sold Plan B, so if you needed it, you would see everyone you knew (professors included).  Additionally, the only way to access birth control was to see a gynecologist-  there weren’t any local community clinics or Planned Parenthood clinics for at least fifty miles.

ASHWG: How do you think the new law that makes comprehensive sex education required in all California schools will impact you and your friends?

EMMA: I believe that the new law that makes comprehensive sex education required in all California schools will empower and equip young people with the information they need to have healthy sexual lives and relationships. I hope the new curriculum will present information in a more “sex positive” way, rather than using traditional scare tactics.  My sexual health education was exclusively heteronormative, so I also hope these new curriculums will be LGBTQ inclusive.

The ASHWG Youth Engagement Subcommittee will continue to publish blogs featuring youth voice. If you have a question or a topic area you would like to get youth input on, please email ashwgca@gmail.com.

Have you downloaded our new curriculum review? Learn more about how California schools are implementing the new standards of the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA).

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