Storytelling Spotlight

Avery Echols

My name is Avery Echols. I am 17 years old and I am a senior at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School in Dallas,Texas. Last year, I was making art that represents something that I want to advocate for or something that I believe in. I created a film club at my school and we ended up in Ntarupt’s fifth annual film festival. The prompt for the film was, “what would you want an adult to tell you about sex?” I wanted to talk about the LGBTQ+ experience and how queer students stay confused for much longer than what’s appropriate because they have a lack of sex education.

Zahria Thomas

My name is Zahria. I’m 20 years old. I just started my third year at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. I am currently on campus as an orientation leader for incoming freshmen. My school is testing us for COVID every two weeks and I feel very safe. At school, I am studying pretty much everything relating to Black women and sex education. I also study photography so that I can have an outlet to express myself. I’m from Dallas, Texas.  I went to Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, the first public all girl’s high school in the state of Texas. I got involved with the North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy (Ntarupt) through a panel that was hosted at Southern Methodist University.

Emily Martin

My name is Emily Martin. I’m a mother of two adult children. I live in East Dallas. I am employed part-time by a church as a librarian.

I always volunteered in my children’s schools, and when they were in high school I was PTA president for a couple of years. My children were involved in a Christian youth organization through their school when they were in high school.  In 2006, one of the leaders of that organization asked me to help her start the same program at the high school—but for teen mothers. I agreed, and in time I found I was devoting 40 hours a week to help lead this group. I stepped back from leadership in 2014, so I am not as involved as I used to be, but I still make time to provide childcare at the summer camps that this group does with teen mothers.

Bailee Smith

My name is Bailee Smith. I’m 15 years old and I’m from Mabank, Texas. I’m a freshman at Mabank High School. I’ve been working with the We Won’t Be Silenced campaign. Its main purpose is to destigmatize topics like sex, reproductive health, and periods. The campaign leader started a challenge called “share one, tag one” and I wasn’t sure what to post about. I ended up doing a post on sex ed and birth control. I researched online to see if Texas required sex ed and that’s how I found out about the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and got connected to do this interview.

Jessica Mejia

My name is Jessica Mejia. I am originally from Hereford, Texas.I am a former teen parent. I had my son when I was 16 years old and a sophomore in High School. Now as an educated adult, I educate and advocate for teen pregnancy prevention and teen parent outreach due to my life experiences as a young single mother.

Gayatri Rajamony

My name is Gayatri Rajamony. I am 17 years old and attend an online High School called iUniversity Prep. I did not receive my sex ed from my online school because I just recently started going there. I got all my sex ed from my public school in Austin, Texas.

HK Gray

My name is HK Gray. I’m 19 years old. I currently live in the Fort Worth area and I do abortion and homeless outreach work in that area. I am a peer support group leader for Jane’s Due Process.

Laura Slavin

My name is Laura Slavin. I’m 30 years old. I live in San Antonio and work for the city as a System Administrator in the Information Technology department. I have always believed in a life of service and my job with the city helps me feel like I’m meeting that purpose. I currently live with my husband in Northwest Bexar county. We have five kids – my daughter, who is 12 years old, and four boys ages six years, four years, and one-year-old twins. My husband is an Army Veteran, full-time student, and stay at home parent. With five kids, four dogs, school and work – we stay busy! We’re happy and life is good but it was a long road getting here and I will never forget that.

Angel Jackson

My name is Angel Jackson and I’m 26 years old. I work with a non-profit organization called the Harris County Youth Collective. I went into the foster care system when I was 14 years old and I aged out of care at 18 years old​. ​My experience in the system wasn’t as brutal as others. I moved around to 7 or 8 different placements, but I never left Texas so I was fortunate for that. I was never physically abused. I was a tough cookie.

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