Teen Parents at YTH Live Call for Support Not Shame
May 28, 2015
From April 26th to 28th, I represented Sex, Etc. at the annual Youth Tech Health (YTH) Live conference in San Francisco. The conference gathers the young and not-so-young to present and discuss how technology is being used to provide sex ed and improve young people’s sexual and overall health. Though YTH Live has come to a close, I met some amazing people there, including two young parents who are working to change how we think about teen parents.
A good majority of the people at YTH Live were college juniors and seniors looking for advice on grad school, a completely foreign idea to an 18-year-old, like me, who’s just choosing between colleges. So at breakfast one morning, I jumped at the opportunity to talk with someone who seemed to be the only other high-school-aged person at the conference. Elia, I learned, was with California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ). They do community education and push for changes to laws that will support women in being able to make their own decisions about if and when to have children. Elia is a young mother with a two-year-old son named Abraham—one of the cutest kids I’ve seen. Elia works with CLRJ to support young mothers and end the stigma they often face. I also met Adriana, an undocumented teen mother from Colorado. She attends the Florence Crittenton High School in Denver where there is support for pregnant and parenting teens. In spite of this support, Adriana shared the challenges she faced as a young, undocumented, pregnant teen. Though Adriana is only a senior in high school, she has the confidence of a senior in college.
Both girls shared a common story: the births of their children pushed them to take action on issues related to sex ed and pregnant and parenting teens. They are now both working to end negative stereotypes about young mothers. And they both stressed that support and education are more important than the bashing of teens who are taking responsibility and parenting their children. These girls have made an impact on their communities and me. It’s now clear to me that our judgment does nothing to help young parents finish school, be great parents and achieve their goals. Visit Sexetc.org Action Center to learn more ways to support pregnant and parenting teens.