California just changed sex ed in 3 bold ways. Will your state follow?

It's the magical unicorn of sex ed policies, and it's time for other states to do it too.

"Don't have sex or you will get pregnant and die."

GIF from "Mean Girls."

It's not just a "Mean Girls" quote. Unfortunately, for many middle school and high school students in the United States, that's a pretty accurate summary of their sexual health education.


But there's hope on the horizon, in the form of an actually sensible sex ed law passed in California this month.

While most states don't even require sex education (and only 19 require that the education be medically accurate and factual), California schools are now required to promote sex ed curricula based on sound science and inclusivity rather than shame and stigma.

That's right: A state actually passed the magical unicorn of sex ed policies. Victory is ours!

1. The California Healthy Youth Act requires that sex ed programs include information on sexual orientation and LGBTQ sexual health.

LGBTQ sexual health is usually left out of sex ed curricula altogether in most states. And for cisgender students, remaining uninformed about the reality of their LGBTQ peers can only reaffirm harmful myths about non-hetero relationships. Fear thrives when people don't have the facts.

That's why this isn't just an important step forward for lawmakers. For some students, it could be life-changing — even life-saving.

"This bold and substantive legislation will transform the lives of thousands of LGBTQ teens who will finally have their identities validated, and their personal and sexual health needs addressed," said Ellen Kahn, the HRC's Youth and Families Program Director.

2. The law also requires teaching accurate info on STI and HIV prevention and treatment, birth control, and consent.

Comprehensive, inclusive sex ed makes a lot of sense from a public health perspective too. Research has shown that teens who get the right information tend to have lower STI and teen pregnancy rates.

3. Plus, the new law requires teaching about affirmative consent and how to have healthy relationships.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler get it. GIF from 2013 "Golden Globe Awards."

"I firmly believe that by instilling in young minds the importance of affirmative consent and relationships built on love and respect, that we can reduce the sexual violence inflicted on young woman," said Sen. Kevin De León, one of the bill's authors.

Affirmative consent is the idea that healthy, consensual sexual relationships require an enthusiastic "Yes!" from all parties involved, free of coercion. It's a model of consent that empowers people to make informed sexual decisions for themselves and encourages partners to communicate with one another too.

Honestly, there's still a long road ahead for making sure that all people — and especially LGBTQ folks — have access to the education, social services and health care they need to make informed decisions about their bodies and lives.

But with trailblazers like California leading the way, there's so much reason to believe in a better future.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture