Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Hello everyone, my name is Brianna Reyes, I am from El Paso, Texas, and I am a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso. I am a very active individual and try to be involved as much as I can to make change. I joined the Texas Campaign Young Ambassadors Program and immediately fell in love with being involved in taking action, since then I am trying to join similar organizations and programs with the same motives. I am always up to learning new things!
What is your experience with sex education in Texas?
I believe that sex education in Texas is really bad. The only time I remember learning anything about sex was in middle school in 8th grade, which consisted of learning about some of our anatomy, such as penises and vaginas. Looking back that is all I can remember unfortunately, although the teacher was amazing and a great listener I believe she was limited to what could be taught in the state of Texas in 2014. After 8th grade I do not remember taking any health classes again. It was not required unless it was in your career pathway. That was pretty much all the sex education I and others received unfortunately.
In high school I found myself becoming more curious about sex, what it was, how it worked, etc. Having friends that had lots of sexual experience left me wondering what I needed to know, whether it be for myself or to educate others. When I would hear my friends talk about topics related to sex, I felt left out. They would even talk about parts of a female body specifically and I was not even aware of such words even though I had the body part! I felt confused most of my freshman year when my friends would talk because the school system failed to educate me properly. If I didn’t even know the names and purpose of my vagina, how many others were there who also didn’t know? My curiosity took me to begin searching up things on the internet. Although the internet was very beneficial to my learning journey, most things that I believed back then aren’t accurate now, which is a precaution I take now when searching for information.
Reflecting back on things, to this day I feel that Texas sex education continues to fail many students which is unfortunate because many do not have the friends or support system they need to learn. I am 20 years old, and I am still learning new things!
The lack of sex education in Texas does not support students, which is why I believe we have so many teen pregnancies because people are not educated enough and do not know what to do or not to do.
What do you want teens right now to know?
I definitely want teens to know that there is always a way around the lack of sex education in Texas, you just have to push yourself a bit more to find information. Resources are out there to help, whether it be talking to friends who have had sex experiences or more sexual knowledge than you. At other times even searching what is around your area, like Planned Parenthood and if there still isn’t more you can always search up Everybody Texas or other places. Take advantage of technology because it can truly educate you (but try to look into health ones specifically, do not misinform yourself!)
Also, never think you are alone in this journey of life. We have all been in the same shoes of wanting to educate ourselves more on our own bodies and how they work. It is part of life. That being said, do not be afraid to even go on websites where you can ask questions, there are anonymous ones too! There is always someone to listen when others fail, just please know you are not alone. It is better to educate as much as you can to protect your body to the fullest.
What could have been offered to you as a teen to make you feel more supported in making decisions about sex and relationships?
I feel like they should have offered me more education ontopics besides just anatomy. It should have included things such as teaching students how to properly use condoms, what lubricants are safer for your body, more in-depth information about the male/female anatomy, etc. Knowing this information would truly have benefitted me during my years of curiosity, and helped many other students be educated and protect their body.
I also believe a club or organization should be mandatory at every middle school and up, where students who are more curious can take the time to come get the assistance and help they need without feeling judged.
Last but not least, I really wish to push that sex education in middle school needs to improve. On top of that I believe sex education should also be required in high school for two semesters like when we need to learn another language. As sex education benefits us more and keeps others safe and educated.
Can you share a memory about a person or service who was most helpful to you when you were working through these decisions about sex and relationships?
Google was my best friend at that time of me searching for anything related to sex education. Everything I wanted to know I searched it up, but of course not everything is accurate, so you must look into official websites (like health websites). Many health websites helped me out a lot and without them, I wouldn’t have known about the simple things like knowing the benefits of using water-based lubricant.
Also, my friends who had sexual relationships helped me learn a lot. It was good to know that your friends were willing to educate you. My family, such as my tia (aunt) educated me a lot about my vagina, such as what ovulation was. My grandmother would also educate me a lot about my body and encouraged me to see a gynecologist to maintain the health of my body.
Besides being able to talk about my body to my family I do feel like there is a tension between talking beyond my vagina. I believe I can attempt to converse about such topics, but I do not think it would go well with old ideals and religion coming into play, unfortunately.
How do you wish to help others in your community?
Ever since I joined the Texas Campaign’s Young Ambassadors Program, I have really enjoyed it and have educated myself even more than beyond what I knew. I am currently formulating a project with this program to share “goodie bags” of condoms, lubricant, information on the materials, etc with students at my campus! Although my time with this program is coming to an end I still am looking and would like to join more programs similar to such in the future.
I also began a blog when I joined this program and try to share information I learned, or topics my followers tell me on my personal Instagram. At first, I did not think it would have an impact, but I have gotten plenty of positive feedback. I enjoy being able to educate multiple individuals no matter their age, it is like a reward to me that I am able to help others in the smallest way.
Visit her blog here:https://briannareyes01.wixsite.com/allaboutyou
Views expressed in this storytelling are those of the storyteller and are not reflective of any organization.
If you are interested in sharing your story, email Alondra at Alondra@txcampaign.org or fill out this form.