City Cast

How Chicago Students Are Teaching Sex Ed

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on September 19
Illinois Math & Science Academy students Ava Gonzalez and Anna Yang

Illinois Math & Science Academy students Ava Gonzalez and Anna Yang. (Courtesy of the Sex Ed Initiative)

The final season of “Sex Education” drops Thursday. While the Netflix show follows high schoolers educating each other through an underground sex therapy clinic, a group of Chicagoland students are working to teach peers and revamp sex education in schools.

Ava Gonzalez and Anna Yang, a senior and junior at the Illinois Math & Science Academy in Aurora, are co-directors of the Sex Ed Initiative.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What are common questions you hear?

Ava: “I would say they range from what seems like common knowledge to stuff you would have never heard before. People have asked me, ‘What is contraception?’ … It’s interesting to see that people don't really even know what a condom is or different types of birth control.”

SEI has published the “Shattering the Taboo” workbooks for middle and high schoolers. What other projects are in the works?

Anna: “We've continued to reach out to libraries across Illinois, especially those who may not have the best access to sex ed and sex ed books.”

Ava: “We have one installation of a sex ed podcast where we talked to different health officials and professors about what their perspective was on sex ed during different time periods — like the middles ages and 2000s.”

Will SEI influence what you do after high school?

Anna: “Although I'm not thinking of going into direct sex ed advocacy, I want to pursue a career in health care. … [This knowledge] is something I want to pass down to my little siblings and my future kids.”

Sex Ed Initiative co-directors Ava Gonzalez and Anna Yang

Sex Ed Initiative co-directors Ava Gonzalez and Anna Yang. (Courtesy of the Sex Education Initiative)

Know a Chicago student who’d want to get involved? Direct them to the SEI website or reach out via Instagram.

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