In Vermont, Pregnancy and STD Prevention Curriculum Speaks to All Youth

Young people in Bristol, VT, who take part in sexual health classes at their local teen center may be lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender or questioning. Or they may not have thought much about their sexual or gender identity at all. But staff at the Bristol Hub has. The Family and Youth Services Bureau grantee in this small town of around 4,000 has done its part to make sure the curriculum it uses speaks to all youth.

“There’s a strong possibility that at least one if not more of the people in our twelve-person group will have a same-sex experience in their life,” says program coordinator Ryan Krushenick. “Our job is to make sure it’s safe, and that they’re armed with the knowledge to deal with anything that could come up in their adult sexual life.”

Krushenick says he and his staff combed through “Reducing the Risk: Building Skills to Prevent Pregnancy, STDs & HIV,” the 16-lesson curriculum his program uses, to make the workbook more explicitly inclusive of LGBTQ youth. They made sure each pronoun was gender-neutral and that equal space was given to the risks of homosexual and heterosexual activity. The Hub also has a policy of never assuming anything about a youth’s sexual behavior or identity.

Funding for the Hub’s sexual health program comes from the Personal Responsibility and Education Program, or PREP, which provides state grants for youth instruction about sexual health and pregnancy prevention. The grants are administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau.

“We ask all of our State PREP grantees and the organizations that receive their sub-grants to make sure that their programs, curricula, materials, instructors and classroom environments are LGBTQ-friendly,” says Marc Clark, FYSB’s director of adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. “It’s just the right thing to do if we want to reduce teen pregnancy and STDs.”

For more on the Bristol Hub approach to teen pregnancy and STD prevention, please listen to our podcast with Ryan Krushenick.