Scarleteen turns 20 years old today. Twenty.
For two decades, we’ve delivered our unique and innovative brand of sex education, despite many financial, legal, political and practical barriers and battles. That kind of tenure for anything on the internet is unheard of, let alone for a grassroots, feminist sexual health, sex and healthy relationships initiative and alternative education project for young people, and one that was (and still is) queer, working class and woman-led.
Centering and serving young people, sexuality and relationships like we do, with inspired quality, care and vision, and doing so independently — and for free — for so long is so rare. Very few organizations and resources have consistently delivered all of what we do, as well as we do, and to as many as we have, for this long.
This has been the most demanding work of my life, but also the greatest privilege. This sure isn’t what I’d planned to do with my life twenty years ago. Whoooooo boy, has it been a ride, but I’m so grateful and glad for the incredible challenge, the adventure and the profound education that Scarleteen has afforded me.
I’ve worked very hard to get us here, but I haven’t done it alone. Without help and participation from volunteers, staff and outside helpers and supporters, we wouldn’t still be here. Without our users, we never would have been here in the first place. We certainly wouldn’t have had the direction and inspiration they’ve given us, nor the chance to have been taught so much by our learners, something I have always believed is essential for any great educator.
We couldn’t have done it without help from independent donors, who’ve been our sole source of financial support most of the time we’ve been running. You’ve not only helped fund Scarleteen and all it does, you’ve allowed us to maintain our independence so we could provide truly learner-centered sex education and do it the way we do. Our donors have also literally kept a roof over my head and put food on my table for many years, something that means the world to me, especially as my ability to work jobs outside Scarleteen to support it and myself changed, and during times I was trying to keep Scarleteen afloat while managing major illness, disability and other big challenges.
Thank you so much for what you’ve given, in whatever unique way you have, to help Scarleteen reach this massive milestone. Thank you for your faith in us, in me, in young people and in the power of quality sex and relationships education. Thank you for helping us to grow and sustain a unique organization and resource I feel confident has the ability to continue to lead in our field and be what young people want and need it to be.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what Scarleteen and myself can do through this anniversary year to celebrate all we’ve been and have become, and to best set us up for another 20 years to come. I’ll be sharing those thoughts, plans and our new developments with you as we get there, both on the site and in our social media all through the next year.
Today, I’d like to ask you to consider what you can do right now to help celebrate and sustain us, too.
Here are five things you may be able to do right now that can help.
• Make an end of the year donation to help us start 2019 on solid financial ground. We are still primarily supported by independent donors like yourself, and we still operate on a very small budget for such a very big service. You can donate online using a debit/credit card or PayPal through Network for Good here. Recurring donations — even for as little as $10 a month — are particularly helpful, if you’re able.
• Buy Scarleteen swag! We’ve got a Threadless shop with some pretty cool stuff, including our new anniversary art and our popular Queer Sex Ed for All logo here.
• Buy copies of S.E.X.: You can find out more about my popular and pioneering sexuality, sexual health and relationships guide, now in its second edition, and some of the places you can buy it here. It’s also really helpful to add reviews to online vendors if you’ve already got it!
• Share a testimonial about Scarleteen with your own network — in your social media, through email, or even just at a work lunch. Tell them why you value and support our work and how they can help support it, too. It’s helpful to recirculate things we say and post, but it’s even more effective to speak from your own heart, head and experience: that usually resonates much more deeply with people who know you.
• Email Chanté Thurmond, our new part-time Director of Development! Maybe you want to ask about throwing a small fundraising houseparty, maybe you want to know if there’s something you can donate in-kind, maybe you’re curious about volunteering, or maybe you just want someone else to run some of the possibilities by you. If you know you want to help, but you’re just not sure how, she’s got ideas!
I’d say I can’t believe we’re at 20 years, because it’s been so hard to keep this going sometimes. I remember thinking we couldn’t possibly make to the next year many times.
But I can believe it, because I have always believed in Scarleteen, what it has done in the past, still does now and what it can do in the future.
I can believe it because I know how many people out there, maybe including you, have always believed in us — and supported us — too. I just can’t possibly thank everyone enough for that, but you can rest assured that over the next year, I’m sure going to try.
P.S. Sometimes these birthdays bring folks out of the woodwork who hadn’t checked us out in a while to even know we’re still around! If that sounds like you, why not give us a follow on our social media channels: @Scarleteen on Twitter, @Scarleteenorg on Instagram, here on Facebook and hellyeahscarleteen on Tumblr? That way you can keep up with all of the awesome we keep on doing. 🙂
Art @2018 Isabella Rotman/Scarleteen