Why is it important to continue the fight for sex education in southern states like Texas and Mississippi?
- Most states in the South have the highest teen birth rates [Mississippi ranks 1st and Texas ranks 4th]
- Most states in the South have abstinence-only education
- Latinos and African Americans have the highest rates of teen births
When I became a young parent in Brownsville, Texas, I knew that it would be too difficult to break the cycle of poverty I was raised in. When I found out that I was pregnant, I criticized myself. In the Valley, I grew up with the negative stigma that pregnant teenagers would not obtain a post-secondary education and live off of government assistance. Immediately, my mother told me that I needed to continue with my education and I did. However, I did not know what my path was. I just knew that I needed to obtain a degree to not live in poverty.
After four years of sleepless nights, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Government. I was accepted to Teach for America and will be teaching high school social studies in a rural area in the Rio Grande Valley. I finished the first phase of my life at 22 years old and with a three year old and with the help of my family, friends, and government assistance.
Several factors helped me accomplish many achievements.
1) My daughter, Frida, has been my motivation to work hard in everything I take on.
2) Activism has empowered me to embrace my identity as a strong Latina single parent and help others by changing the negative stigma of young parents. This includes the network of activists that have supported me for two years now.
3) My mother and younger sister have helped greatly by caring for Frida.
I set out to write this post for several reasons. First, it was to provide a better evaluation of what it takes to attend college while being a single parent. The process of completing my work was extremely difficult. Many times, I found myself waking up at two or three in the morning attempting to finish my homework because that was the only time where I could concentrate without the sounds of toys. I did not want to wake up but I knew I had to. Of course, many times I wanted to give up and I sacrificed completing many assignments because of the circumstances that I encountered as a young parent.
I do not hope to become a spokesperson for all young Latina mothers. I hope to inspire them. I hope to set the example that no dream is beyond reach. I could have made many excuses to not complete my responsibilities as a student but I decided not to because I had made a commitment to obtain an education. If there is anything that I want people to know, it is that yes there are many barriers but you decide where you want to be in the future and youchoose your path to get there.
Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
My name is April Flores and I beat the statistics.