We Are Still Here: Native Sex Ed

November is recognized as National Native American Heritage Month.  During this time we celebrate our traditions, cultures, and histories, as well as honor our ancestors and Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Last night I had the opportunity to attend The Second Annual American Indian Culture Show hosted by the Carolina Indian Circle. There were so many great performances including dancing, flute playing, storytelling, and a fashion show.  I even had the chance to see my brother sing and drum!

We also use this month as an opportunity to educate others about our accomplishments and the challenges we have faced and continue to face.  

Did you know that…?

  • Some Native American tribes acknowledged 5 genders before Europeans forced gender roles on them? The five genders included: female, male, two-spirit female, two-spirit male, and transgender.
  • Two spirit refers to a person who has both a masculine and a female spirit and is used to describe their sexual, gender, and/or spiritual identity.  Two spirit doesn’t indicate colonized boxes of “L”, “G”, “B”, “T”, or “Q”.  Two spirit persons can be all of these or none of these.  
  • 1 in 3 American Indian women are raped in their lifetime.  We are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the US in general.
  • There are nearly 1.1 million Native American/American Indian people in the US between ages 15-24, but ZERO evidence-based sexuality education curricula that solely focus on our population.   

Natives tend to be forgotten and left out of conversations about sexuality education. Most sexuality research and media coverage on Native sexuality focus solely on sexual assault.  This is one of the many reasons that I am passionate about the work that I do, but I cannot do this work alone. There are several successful non-evidence based programs and organizations making a progress in Indian Country. A few of those programs and organizations include: 

  • Native: It’s Your Game
    • Interactive computer-based curriculum based on:
      • Making better life choices
      • Healthy relationships and friendships
      • Handling peer pressure around sex, drugs, and alcohol
  • Native Teen Voices 
    • Focuses on Native-led pregnancy prevention discussions and youth programs
    • Collected information from urban Native American Teens concerning their feelings about:
      • Sex
      • School
      • Teen Pregnancy
      • Family relationships
      • Involvement in Native American cultural and spiritual activities
  • Native American Teen Pregnancy Prevention Resource Center
    • Focuses on reducing teen pregnancy and its associated risk factors on the Navajo Nation and has goals of becoming a national resource hub where tribal entities seek Indian teen pregnancy prevention resources and technical assistance.
  • Native Youth Sexual Health Network
    • Works with Indigenous peoples across the US and Canada to advocate for and build strong, comprehensive, and culturally safe sexuality and reproductive health, rights, and justice initiatives.
    • Key areas of work include, but aren’t limited to:
      • Culturally safe sex education
      • Reclaiming rites of passage, coming of age ceremonies and traditional knowledge
      • Healthy relationships and violence prevention
      • Pregnancy options, youth parenting and families
      • Two-Spirited and LGBTTIQQA advocacy and awareness
      • Sex trade, sex industries and street economies
      • Sexual self-esteem and empowerment

I’m sure that there are more programs that I have failed to mention. I’m thankful for all of these resources.

I am standing up as a voice for my people.  We will not continue to be under-represented. It is important for us to see people who are a part of our culture accurately represented in this work because we are STILL here!

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