SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION
The culture of stigma reflected in this Oklahoma story, exists in many other parts of the country. If you’d like to do more to help in your area, here are some suggestions for action, as well as lists of local resources:
1. Get the facts!
If you are unsure of the details of transmission of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, please ask a trusted source. Sex, Etc. has a wide range of resources to help you get the facts and learn and it’s organized state by state. Many of the organizations listed below also offer one-on-one counseling about what equals risky behavior and have many additional resources listed on their sites.
2. Get tested!
Whether you’re a teenager or an adult, be responsible and get tested regularly for HIV and other STDs if you are sexually active. Set an example for your loved ones, and have conversations with your sexual partner(s) about whether or not they have been tested. You can find a clinic that provides testing in your area here: at YTH.org or Sex, Etc.
Some clinics have counselors on site. If your particular clinic does not offer counseling services but you would like to talk to someone in depth about your test results and what comes next, you can find local resources and someone to talk to at the National Alliance on Mental Illness or MTV’s It’s Your Sex Life.
3. Fight stigma.
Don’t remain silent! Challenge LGBT, HIV/AIDS and Mental Health stigmas by addressing incidences of stigma when it happens around you. Avoid language that promotes negative stereotypes of LGBT folks or people experiencing mental health issues, HIV or other illnesses. It’s pretty simple: treating others with respect and dignity goes a long way.
4. Have the difficult conversations.
Talking to your parents, children, friends or other confidants about sex and relationships can be awkward. But connecting with others in empathetic dialogue can help prevent those closest to you from feeling isolated. Plus, sharing information and resources really can save lives. Not sure how to start your particular conversation? Sex Etc. has a communication tool that offers prompts based on who you may be talking to and what you want to talk about.
5. Reach out to a friend.
If you know someone who may be suffering from depression or who’s been stigmatized for their sexual orientation or HIV status let them know that you care by reaching out. You may also want to encourage them to connect with other individuals that can help. Visit The Trevor Project for other suggestions.
6. Support comprehensive, accurate sex education and healthcare.
Vote for candidates who support these things. If you don’t know what sex education policy looks like in your state, you can find some great, user-friendly information at Sex, Etc.
7. Join a public conversation.
Fight stigma or promote accurate information and support
services on your social media feeds. We’re starting a national dialogue and want you to be
part of it! Please tag your posts with #BHL
Additional Online Resources:
Resources for parents:
Sex, Etc. (a project of Answer’s) is full of equivalent resources for youth:
Gay Straight Alliance Network
Human Rights Campaign
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
YTH (Youth + Tech + Health)