Do adults have any idea what young people really want in terms of sex education and counseling about sex?
Angela Ferrell-Zabala – the director of Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom, RCRC’s program for youth and young adults – has considerable interaction with students and says it boils down to this: access to information and services and open dialogue.
In an article for Faith in Action, the e-newsletter of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, Angie writes:
Overwhelmingly, college students and young adults are advocating for access to an assortment of reproductive and sexual-health information and services. Open dialogue encourages honest discussion about sex, sexual behavior and relationships.
When we talk about access to information, it’s not just information about the act of sex or use of contraception to prevent sexually transmitted infections, she says.
It is just as crucial to have conversations about what a healthy relationship looks like and what you should look for when trying to figure out if you may be involved in an unhealthy situation.
In our highly sexualized environment, religious institutions could make a positive difference in how young people feel about sex:
I can think of nothing more affirming than creating these spaces within religious institutions. The church serves as a holistic place to have these discussions. This is because faith plays a key role in the development of many young people. So many people seek counsel and solace from the church.
When young people are facing real-life issues that deal with their reproductive and sexual well-being, however, the last place they think they can go is to their church.
Many faith leaders Angie speaks with say young adults seem very disconnected from the church. The issue of sex contributes to that distance and discomfort.
What to do? Start where you are, beginning conversations and being open to talking. With accurate information. With faith. Angie writes:
I encourage faith leaders and other members of congregations to take the first step in reaching out to a young person you care about. Your counsel and support is priceless.
–Marjorie Signer, RCRC Communications Director