“You gotta break that log jam that says if you teach your kids about sex, they’ll have sex. That is statistically false. I mean, it’s just undeniably, statistically false. In fact, the statistics bear out that if you don’t teach them, they’re much more likely to engage in stuff that’s mysterious and interesting.”Local Community Faith Leader
THE NEED FOR INFORMATION
Study participants identified the sexual health topics they want to learn more about. The most commonly identified topics include:
- How to talk to providers about sexual health – 46%
- Teen development – 42%
- How to talk to teens about sex – 40%
- Contraceptives – 39%
- Puberty – 30%
- How to talk to parents/guardians about sex – 28%
PARENTS ARE IMPORTANT
Teens identified trusted adults they would talk to if they had a sexual health need. Teens were most likely to identify their mother (39%) as the trusted adult they would talk with.
SUPPORT FOR SEX EDUCATION
A majority of adults (92%) somewhat or strongly agreed that teens should have access to comprehensive sexual health education in school.
”If sexual health was difficult [already], during COVID time it was three or four times more difficult to get sexual health [resources]… because they were concentrating on other things that were not sexual health. There are programs that don’t exist anymore… Once the pandemic had happened and is supposed to be coming to an end, or we’re getting back to normal, they don’t open those programs again [for immigrant populations and other marginalized people].”Local Latine Young Adult
IMPACT OF COVID-19
Participants were asked about the effect of COVID-19 on access to sexual health services. Before the pandemic, 50% of teens and young adults reported they had high access to sexual health services. In 2022, only 17% felt they had high access.
PATHWAYS TO INFORMATION
Nearly 50% of Tulsans reported websites and social media as a preferred method to receive sexual health information.
THREATS TO TULSA’S LIVELIHOOD
Nearly all of the interview participants expressed concerns about the future of Tulsa due to discriminatory policies, attitudes, and laws. Participants discussed ways negative attitudes toward sexual health education reflect larger trends and shifts in the culture of Tulsa.
“I think I am lucky enough to go to college outta state because I feel like the state that we live in isn’t the most supportive of people like me and I want to keep it realistic… wanting a job in a high position, I just don’t think Oklahoma would be able to offer someone like me that position…so that’s why I’m going outta state…”Local LGTBQ+ Young Adult
Expand access to sexual health information, services, and resources
- Support comprehensive sex ed in school, community, and faith-based settings
- Increase website and social media outreach
- Raise awareness of existing resources
Demand equity for populations experiencing health disparities
- Provide resources in multiple languages
- Ensure ALL young people have access to youth-friendly health services
- Advocate for policies that improve health outcomes
Eliminate the stigma
- Accelerate community-driven support for youth sexual health
- Increase sexual health access and knowledge
- Encourage communication between teens and trusted adults