The Express

Voices of the Special Report Speak Out

The anonymous student voices (accredited to fake names) react to the backlash of the special report publication and explain why their stories needed to be shared. Clarine and Bill from the “Abstaining” story chose not to comment; however, they did address the fact that they received criticism after the publication.

Art by Lucy Law

Art by Lucy Law

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“As a contributor to The Express articles, I felt very proud of the people who helped express the authenticity of long term relationships and what they typically consist of. Sharing this story with everyone wasn’t by any means to make people feel uncomfortable or scared in anyway, but to educate both young girls and boys about the reality of most relationships these days. It hit me hard to hear the response some parents, and even our own staff here at San Juan, had. What discouraged me the most was that our own principal– the person who represents the students and guides them– shamed the articles and the experiences us students underwent. It made me (and the others in the articles) feel unaccepted and guilty about the events we went through. She and the others quickly judged the articles by their titles rather than the content. The content that not only empowered the contributors of the articles, but every teenager that read them. The article helped me touch those who may be entering or in a relationship that is abusive (and even prevent it from happening). Relationships in high school (and those that involve sexual activities) are extremely tough to handle and not something most can talk to their parents or other adults about (typically without feeling ashamed). Through the black words written on that page, I could let people know they are not alone and many have gone through similar scenarios.

Through the black words written on that page, I could let people know they are not alone and many have gone through similar scenarios”

— Zoe Brooks

As stated in the article, I don’t regret one thing I experienced because through that adversity it made me a stronger, independent person who is more in touch with myself, feelings, and needs. I currently am in a beautiful relationship, that is balanced on both sides and now I can finally trust someone to be there for me in ways family and friends can’t. I want to help people to achieve the same happiness and stability. In such a high-stress society with almost impossible expectations, it’s vital to enlighten young people on the importance of balance in their lives: something older generations have not experienced. The world is transforming with more secular views and sexual, mental, and other abuses are finally being held accountable by many amazing voices. The time is up on tolerating abusive behaviors and I firmly believe that no matter what race, gender, etc. someone is, that person should never feel isolated and pressured into something out of fear. Decisions, actions, and words should all be made out of love– exactly what The Express meant when publishing these articles.” -Zoe Brooks, Long Term

 

“When I originally agreed to share my personal story with The Express, I had no idea the impact it would have and the controversy it would cause. My story was something that bore incredible emotional significance to me; and, by sharing it, I was hoping to educate others on the lessons I had learned by exploring my sexuality. Skipping prom to lose your virginity at 2 a.m. is an emotional experience that nobody should have to go through. Hating yourself for your sexuality is an emotional experience that nobody should have to go through. By sharing my story, what happened to me, and the emotional turmoil it caused, I hoped to alleviate some of the pain that it caused me and to impart onto others the lessons that I had learned– that sexual activity is deeply personal and individual and that society shouldn’t dictate what one should do sexually.

I looked forward to seeing comments on my story, but Principal Smalley’s comments made me feel like I was not welcome in my own community. While I had initially overcome these toxic feelings, the vile views espoused on social media by my own community, and most importantly by my own principal, was a stark reminder of the self-hatred I felt in the past and the discrimination I faced.

Part of the goal of being public about such controversial issues is to create a world that will accept you and, if not, then at least be willing to hear what you have say; clearly, that is not the case at the moment”

— Kevin Landon

When I was a freshman, I saw an LGBTQ+ center spread in The Express and it gave me a newfound sense of pride and belonging to my community. I was able to see that there were other people like me, and I was hoping to emulate that for all my fellow students and allow them to feel the same sense of warmth and inclusion. Part of the goal of being public about such controversial issues is to create a world that will accept you and, if not, then at least be willing to hear what you have say; clearly, that is not the case at the moment.” -Kevin Landon, Bisexual

 

“It’s your not-so-favorite, sensationalistic gay here, John Smith. Back again talking about the blasphemous topic that is sex.

In my interview with The Express a few weeks ago, I allowed myself to be completely vulnerable and spoke nothing but the truth, and I am dismayed by the backlash this spread has received from my school administration. The notion that the information included is disrespectful, careless slander hurts me deeply. My messages and stories were all chosen to be included because of the importance that they have to me; and, the information I learned through these experiences are valuable ones that the student body, especially in this undeniably progressive era, could benefit from too. The fact that my administrators are reading my stories and degrading who I am, and what I am proud enough of to discuss, hurts. My stories were shared with the intent to educate, and to see the disgust I never imagined seeing has shown me just how censored and impertinent our society is. History has rarely taken the side of those who try to slow it down, and whether it is clean or not, the truth needs to be heard.

Now, if homophobia was part of this backlash, I’m not sure. But the reaction to these pride-filled stories full of raw advice is familiar coming from someone who has felt discriminated against for his sexuality before. And as far as my disheveling little stories, everything described was as consensual and legal as can be.” -John Smith, Gay

 

“We live in a sad time. People are starving. People are dying of thirst. The environment is slowly but surely degrading. Suicide rates are higher than ever, and the fear of a shooting plagues campuses across every town in America. When teens, like myself, speak out about these “adult issues,” we are told, “Be quiet. Stay in your place. Stay in school. One day, you can have a voice. For now, just be quiet.” Sure. That’s fine. That’s alright. We can stick to our own issues.

The average age that Americans begin having sex is 17 years old, which is the age of a junior in high school. Over 90% of young people who are sexually active agree that they participated in sexual activities before they were truly ready. In 2015, it was reported over 41% of high school students have had sex. And that’s those who didn’t fear to admit it. (Quite frankly, after reading the parent and faculty responses to this week’s edition of The Express, I don’t blame anyone for fearing to admit to having sex.)

In the article, that I contributed to, I urged responsibility and education. I specifically stated to “become sexually active when you personally feel ready and to only have sex with someone you know well and trust.”  I urged the use of protection, such as condoms and birth control, and I called for a better sex-ed in the classroom. Is this bad advice? To all the parents who had a problem with the article, you’re welcome for telling your children to be safe and practice safe sex. You’re welcome for being vulnerable and sharing my story to attempt to prevent STD’s and pregnancy.

On the Ladera Moms facebook page, people had a problem with me saying I would resort to abortion if I got pregnant. In the article, I stated that as a “woman in today’s society, you are expected to be unselfish.” The parents who are “disgusted” and “sickened” by a decision that would affect no one but myself and my partner feed exactly into my message. It is okay to be a woman and selfish. It is okay to do what is best for yourself.

We will talk about sex. We all know students do at school. Through this article, there was an attempt to facilitate an honest and open conversation about sex and the ramifications of it; something that many parents and schools fail to do.” -Sarah, Pregnancy Scare

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1 Comment

One Response to “Voices of the Special Report Speak Out”

  1. Frank on March 21st, 2018 10:01 AM

    I love the empowerment in the one sided presentation of these stories, the support and reactions. Many feelings, but few facts. No one bothered to look at the repercussions of sexual activity with high school students:

    Sexual risk behaviors place teens at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy:

    Young people (aged 13-24) accounted for an estimated 22% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2015
    Among young people (aged 13-24) diagnosed with HIV in 2015, 81% were gay and bisexual males.
    Half of the nearly 20 million new STDs reported each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24
    Nearly 230,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15–19 years in 2015

    Continue to be selfish, see what kind of life that will bring.

    [Reply]

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