(INDIANAPOLIS) – On Thursday, teens from across Indianapolis met with their legislators and advocate for reproductive health care as part of Youth Advocacy Day.
The Indy Teen Council event empowers youth to engage with their state’s legislative process in order to create meaningful, youth-driven change in their communities. Advocacy Day inspires Teen Council members to work together, speak from their lived experience, and take a stand about issues that matter most to communities across Indiana.
Teen Council is made up of a diverse voluntary student body from local schools. Members come to the group with different beliefs and viewpoints. Teen Council members meet weekly in groups of about a dozen teens with a Planned Parenthood educator to discuss various sexual health and relationship issues. This year, Teen Council members will urge their legislators to take action to combat high rates of sexually transmitted infections in the state, support comprehensive sex education, access to birth control and state-wide non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.
“This is an important event for Teen Council members because they get the opportunity to have Indiana legislators hear their stories while also getting a firsthand look at how advocacy and the legislative process work in our state, said Emily Aytes, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Educator Trainer. “Teen Council members often report that their peers come to them for information about sexual health because they are not receiving it in school or are too embarrassed to ask adults. When we make presentations at local high schools, youth often thank Teen Council members for giving them accurate information in a shame-free environment. The current Indianapolis Teen Council members are passionate about all Indiana youth having access to sex education so that they can make healthy and responsible choices now and in the future.”
Young people deserve age-appropriate, medically accurate information about sex, reproduction, and concepts like respecting boundaries, asking before touching, and who to turn to for help. But many young people don’t have access to the information and skills they need to protect their health and safety because public schools in Indiana aren’t required to provide comprehensive sex education.
- 1 in 8 teens have experienced sexual dating violence, and the rate of dating violence among young people in Indiana is higher than the national average.
- Indiana has a high rate of teen pregnancy, and nearly 49 percent of all pregnancies in Indiana are unintended.
- From 2015 to 2018, there has been a 53 percent increase in gonorrhea cases and a 19.4% increase in chlamydia cases in Indiana.
Teens will be posting their interactions at the capitol on their Instagram account and recording videos after meetings with legislators to share. You can follow those posts at safesexperts on Instagram.