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Pledge to Be Sexually Healthy

May 10, 2010

 

I’ve been honored to serve on the Local Planning Committee for the Think Tank for African American Progress – Long Island.  We had our convening April 22-24, based on the national theme for 2010: What is the future for Black girls?  In looking at issues facing Black girls today, the Think Tank specifically included sexual health as one of the priority areas, along with obesity, mental health, and economic development.  Why sexual health?  The CDC has some great information about health disparities for African Americans.  Among the CDC statistics in the area of sexual health:

  • African Americans made up 51% of all new HIV/AIDS cases in 2007 and 70% of all new gonorrhea cases. 
  • 1 in 2 African American teen women has a sexually transmitted infection (nationally, 1 in 4 adolescent women has an STI).

 

TTAP-LI is committed to practicing as we preach, particularly because we want to serve as role models for the girls who participated in our Black Girls Leadership and Empowerment Summit.  At our last meeting, one of the leaders of the group suggested we begin to think about a pledge to be sexually healthy.

So now I’m thinkin’.  What should a pledge to be sexually healthy promise?  It’s about more than STI rates and using condoms – being sexually healthy means having confidence and knowledge to avoid unhealthy relationships, and taking responsibility for your own sexual health and sexual choices.  It means seeing a health care provider regularly for preventive care and screening, and getting tested and treated as needed for a variety of possible health problems.  It’s also about acknowledging that sex happens for a hundred reasons, and not all of them relate to love or a loving relationship.  It’s about understanding that sexuality is a natural, normal, and lifelong part of being human.  It’s also about understanding that it is ok to choose to postpone sex or remain abstinent.

So what should our pledge to be sexually healthy say?  I’m thinking it should go something like this:

  • I pledge to love my body and feel comfortable and confident in my own skin.
  • I pledge to make conscious decisions about whether, when, and with whom to have sex, and to make conscious and informed decisions about the type of birth control that is best for me.
  • I pledge to understand the risks of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy, and to reduce my risk by using condoms and by discussing the risks and our histories with my partner(s).
  • I pledge to make conscious decisions about whether and when to become a parent, as well as how many children to have and how to have them, if I choose to carry a pregnancy to term.
  • I pledge to avoid, or end, relationships that involve jealousy, lies, manipulation, and violence, so that I can maintain healthy and caring relationships.
  • I pledge to see a health care provider regularly, one who I trust and who is nonjudgmental. 

What would your pledge say?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenda Simmons permalink
    May 13, 2010 11:40 am

    I think this is great. I think suggesting safe choices is key, so I would add as an additional choice abstinence. I strongly believe we MUST stop leaving this choice out. There are some more than you think (believe it or not) who have made this wise choice.The do as I say and not as I do is BULL!!! Young people look up to us for the most part and when they HEAR and SEE what we do DUH they think if you/we who are telling them right for wrong and being punished if they don’t we must know that we are sending a mixed message when they HEAR and SEE us doing our THANG. By the way don’t be fooled young people listen to our telephone conversations when we think they are not. They SENSE and know more than you/we think. Okay I had to learn this years ago when I divorced and became a single (mad) mother. I thought I was shielding/hiding my “GAW” actions, but after did my thang and in process healed through the pain and devastation of divorce I realize most of my “GAW” stuff was pretty much detailed back to me when I sat down to asked my then teenage/adult girls to forgive me for my “GAW” actioins. It actually shocked me a bit when they told me stuff I thought they didn’t know. BUT it’s all good! I am soo blessed that my daughter forgave me and LOVE ME MUCHO!!! Ok I’m going to say something that I generally NEVER share with anyone. Through and ONLY through the the keeping of GOD I have been celebate for over 15 years. Let’s talk.

  2. May 13, 2010 2:58 pm

    Thanks so much for your comment, Brenda. You’re completely right, abstinence is a healthy choice. I just want people to know that it’s not the only healthy choice, and, as you know, it’s not just for teenagers, either.

    Planned Parenthood always includes abstinence as an option in our education programs. I think sometimes we think sex ed is only for young people, but since all humans are sexual beings, all people need to know how to stay sexually healthy. That includes the choice to be celibate, as well as how to be sexually active in a healthy way.

    When I wrote “I pledge to make conscious decisions about whether, when, and with whom to have sex,” my intention was that abstinence is a healthy option. Of course, rereading this now I think I should also add how to have sex, because it’s not all just about penis-in-vagina penetration, either.

    I would love to talk more!

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