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In This Issue:
Abigail Ortiz, left, and Merilin Castillo participate in a panel after the premiere of the student-produced film, “Sex in School: Does Ignorance Keep Us Safe?”
High school students in the Boston Public School system don’t receive enough information about sex education, many of them say. But, a small group of students, through the Hyde Square Task Force and Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, have come together with a powerful message directed to officials at the school district.
Concerned about high rates of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancies among teens—one in four teens in Boston has a sexually transmitted infection, and teen pregnancy is on the rise for the first time in 15 years—the students produced a 16-minute video illustrating the impact of these issues among their peers.
“Sex In School: Does Ignorance Keep Us Safe?” premiered Dec. 9 at the Connolly Library in Jamaica Plain.
“The final video is the result of a tremendous amount of work by the youth leaders in our programs,” said Abigail Ortiz, MSW, MPH, manager of Community Health Programs at Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. “These students feel passionately about the need for a stronger sex education curriculum in the Boston Public Schools.”
Ortiz said students in the Youth Community Organizers and Health Careers Ambassadors programs—both part of the Hyde Square Task Force—chose to organize around the lack of sexuality education and condom availability in schools.
“We decided to focus on health education because of the importance of this topic among our peers,” said Merilin Castillo, a 17-year-old resident of Jamaica Plain who works in the Health Career Ambassadors Program. “We learned from the youth we were giving workshops to that much of what they knew about sex came to them like a folk tale, or a game of telephone.”
Castillo and her peers began working on the video last summer. They worked with a producer at Intercultural Productions to film and edit the final product, which is a humorous mock news report that highlights myths and common misperceptions teens have about sex, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
“We wanted the video to be funny, but we also wanted it to convey a serious message,” Castillo said. “Sexual health of teens is an issue that needs to be taken care of immediately.”
To see a preview of the film, visit www.facebook.com/sexinschool