Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Limya Harvey. I am a high school senior, and I’m originally from New York, but I moved to Texas during my adolescence, ironically right before I turned 13. I have been involved in a lot of youth advocacy things within the last four years of high school, such as the San Antonio Youth Speak Up and The Texas Campaign’s Symposium panel I did last month. I am driven to do things that involve youth advocacy and use my voice to fundamentally change things to how they are supposed to be, in terms of sexual health standards. My personal goal is to be the person that helps further along the process to get it to where it needs to be.
What is your experience with sex education in Texas?
My sex education experience is minimal until I was able to search for people who were able to give me the proper information that I needed. We were only required to take a health class in middle school. Despite that, they gave the option to either attend health class or go to the gym. Not only that, but they also gave us a permission slip that our parents had to sign on time in order for us to attend health class. Unfortunately, my mother did not sign the permission slip in time, so I was in the gym.
During the time I spent in the gym, I realized that my school did not prioritize us receiving the health class or sex education, just because their ultimatum was for us to spend time at the gym. And honestly, all the kids in middle school wanted to go play at the gym.
I am more of a self-taught individual, so I utilized my resources. Once I was able to find the Youth Advocacy Council (YAC) through Healthy Futures of Texas, I was able to learn more about sex education topics. I was also able to share this information with those that do not know about these sex education topics. The YAC cohort was a very crucial part of my sex education in the state of Texas.
What do you want teens right now to know?
I want teens to know about the positive and negative things about sex. I want them to know about the proper methods they need to use to be safe. I want them to know everything that comes with testing and what they need to know. I want teens to be prepared for pretty much everything, and also feel comfortable enough to speak with other teens that are more prepared and know more.
Do not be afraid to do your research. I used websites that ended with .org, .gov, or any website that had good credibility to learn and research sex education topics. I also cross-reference what the different websites were teaching me to decide that the websites were telling me the right thing. When I was 15, I researched birth control because I was in a relationship and used my mom as a model. My mother was a teen mom and seeing how teen pregnancy affected her by not being able to graduate because of me being born, I thought to myself “this is what happened to her and this is what I do not want to do, what can I do to get past that?”
Doing this research and using my family experience, I went with the decision to get a Nexplanon implant that I have had for the past three years. My mom went with me for support when I decided to get the implant, but the doctor kept asking her questions instead of me. I had to then tell the doctor “this is my body, I am putting the birth control in my body. I need you to speak to me and tell me your concerns because at the end of the day it’s affecting me.” This took a lot of self-advocacy.
Do research, look at family member examples, and be there for yourself.
What is something you would want adults to know right now?
There are a lot of things that are happening that a lot of young people are not seeing. If teens are speaking to you, listen. Allow them to speak to you if they feel comfortable. The more we listen to each other, then stigmas that are heavily tied to sexual health will be slowly removed. And that is the goal, to remove the stigmas.
What could have been offered to you as a teen to make you feel more supported in making decisions about sex and relationships?
I would have wanted more programs like the YAC cohort in the school that I am currently attending. I had to bring what they taught me to this school, and I wished they already had it, so this idea wouldn’t have been brought by a student. There should be inclusivity about the different types of relationships and the fundamentals of sexual health in general, and we don’t have that in Texas.
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?
Technically, I was the most helpful to myself. My mother is not open to speak with me about these things, so I don’t speak to my family about sexual health topics.
It was a personal battle I had to work through.
How do you wish to help others in your community?
We recently had a Sex Ed fair, so my goal is to take that event and expand it to my whole school because my school has over two thousand kids. If I can get the school involved, I can ask some teachers from women’s gender studies and life skills classes if we can come in and do a presentation. I would like to try to make sex education part of the curriculum on a local level by asking teachers I am comfortable with if I can bring this to their classes.
After that, I would like to possibly speak at an assembly and use my knowledge and give it back to the students in my school in a way that I wished was given to me. I want to network and share the outlet of sex education knowledge I have gained.