Launched in 2019, SexEd Works is our first survivor-led campaign that seeks to prevent gender-based violence for the next generation of Black and brown youth in Chicago by ensuring that all Chicago Public School (CPS) youth have access to high-quality, comprehensive sexual health education.
Sexual health education prevents gender-based violence
Skills like understanding consent, are critical for youth to learn how to identify and develop healthy relationships for their entire lives. Comprehensive sexual education can help teach youth they have autonomy over their own bodies and how to respect other people’s boundaries.
In addition, teaching consent to caregivers can help them recognize and report abuse, especially for caregivers who never received sexual health education.
What is the change we seek?
Data from a 2018 FOIA of CPS’ Health Schools Survey shows that over 70% of schools self-reported that they were not in compliance with the CPS mandatory comprehensive sexual health education policy. Many of those schools are disproportionately in Chicago’s South and West side neighborhoods.
This means that 70% of CPS youth are missing out on critical life skills like understanding boundaries, learning how to engage in healthy relationships, and recognizing and stopping abuse.
We want that to change and are asking CPS to:
Fund the implementation of comprehensive sexual education, ensuring all schools have actual dollars towards training educators, providing support for staff and caregivers, and ensuring youth have access to high quality materials.
Support caregivers by helping them understand key concepts like consent, providing meaningful opportunities to ask questions and engage with educators, and giving them tools to navigate conversations with youth.
Accountability to caregivers, youth, educators, and community members by ensuring these stakeholders have oversight in the implementation of comprehensive sexual education, and can provide feedback on the curriculum, educator training, and more.
Our training programs are founded in the belief that the communities most affected by gender-based violence - Black, indigenous, and people of color; low-income, disability, and LGBTQ+ communities; and immigrant communities - are best equipped to develop the solutions to these problems.
What is the change we seek?
“We need to recognize that what CPS is offering now is not enough to make sure that our young people have their own agency and power to make their own decisions…they have to integrate us more into the CPS community. Our kids are the future.”
- Gladys de la Torre
“We — teachers, caregivers, community members, elected officials, everyone — need to invest in more community-led efforts so that our children can live in a world free from violence, a world where they can thrive and not just focus on surviving poverty and the police.”
- Maria Serrano
Shame and stigma are key barriers preventing survivors from connecting to their power. HTA survivor-leaders serve as lifelines in their communities, connecting and supporting isolated survivors to see and feel the power of their resilience.
Through healing retreats, workshops, community care & support, HTA survivor-leaders receive the tools to serve as that lifeline.