WHAT IS SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH?
Your sexual and reproductive health depends on all of the decisions that you make about sex, birth control, pregnancy and more. Good sexual health means that you are able to have a safe and satisfying sex life; choose whether, when and with whom to have sex, and decide whether and when to have a baby.
You have the right to make your own decisions about sex and reproductive health care. You have the right to choose your own doctor, get the type of birth control you want, protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases, get help with transportation to visit a doctor or clinic, have your private information kept private, and find out about all of your options if you become pregnant. Decisions about your sexual and reproductive health are not up to your social worker, foster parent, probation officer, or healthcare provider. They are up to you, and only you.
Having a healthy sex life means taking care of your body. That includes deciding for yourself when to have sex, feeling safe and comfortable with yourself and your partner, and having good communication about sex and pregnancy. Learn more about safe sex and good communication.
Your sexual orientation and gender are important to who you are. When you are in foster care, your right to express your sexual orientation and gender preference is legally protected. That means that you should not feel pressured or discriminated against because you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or choose to express masculine or feminine traits in a certain way. You cannot be denied the opportunity to express your sexual orientation or gender preference. You also may not be told that you cannot live in a foster home, group home, or other setting because of your sexual orientation or gender expression. If anyone tells you that you must change your sexual orientation or gender expression, they are violating your rights. Learning more about gender identity and sexual orientation may help you understand yourself and the world around you. Find resources for LGBTQ+ youth here.
If you are pregnant, you have the right to decide how you want to handle your pregnancy. You may choose to keep your baby, ask someone else to raise your baby, or have an abortion. It is your right to get information about your options from anyone that you trust to advise you. Nobody else, including your foster parent, social worker, probation officer or partner has the right to make this decision for you. Learn more about your rights when it comes to handling pregnancy here.
Sexual healthcare means taking care of your body and protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STIs). STIs are super common, and lots of people have questions about them. Here are the facts on how STIs are transmitted and how to prevent STIs. There is no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed if you have an STI, or have questions about STIs. Your doctor should listen to your questions and give you complete, accurate information about preventing and treating STIs.
Want to learn about sexual and reproductive health rights for young people in foster care?
- Teenparent.net: This website is for anyone in foster care who is expecting a baby, or has already had one. It includes information about money, childcare, and much more.
- Teenhealthrights.org: A guide with information about your rights to sexual freedom, pregnancy and pregnancy prevention, and parenting.