CULLMAN – The Cullman County Democrats met this week, with local sexual education reform activist, Tori Partridge, as their special guest speaker. Partridge spoke to those in attendance about her work in education reform and about the Alabama Alliance for Healthy Youth. After she spoke, the Democrats held their regular meeting where they discussed plans for several events.
Roger Duke, president of the North Central Alabama Young Democrats (NCAYD), introduced Partridge.
“Each month we try to get a new speaker, and this month one of our newest members of the (NCAYD) is with us,” said Duke. “She is also with the Alabama Alliance for Healthy Youth… it’s a really good thing that needs to be done; someone needs to do it, and I’m glad that she is.”
Partridge is 17 and a junior at Holly Pond High School. She began by giving a background on the state organization of which she is a council member.
“Alabama’s Alliance for Healthy Youth is a council made up of 10 students age 15-25 throughout Alabama. Currently we have members in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gulf Shores and Cullman.”
Partridge spoke about what the group wants to accomplish on a statewide level.
“The council is dedicated to comprehensive sexual education reform,” she said. According to Partridge, only 27 states and the District of Columbia mandate sex education be taught in schools; out of those 27, only 13 states require the information to be medically-accurate. Alabama is not one of those states.
Partridge says the council also takes issue with language they view as homophobic in current laws concerning sexual education.
“It is outdated, considering that there are no laws prohibiting any individual being in a relationship outside of a heterosexual one,” she explained.
She went further, saying that even through there is some sexual education in our state curriculum, some students don’t receive any sexual education at all.
“Most students, including myself, don’t receive a sexual education,” said Partridge.
Through her position on the council, Partridge visited Washington, D.C. to lobby for the REHY (Real Education for Healthy Youth) Act, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California.
“I have decided to go into politics and will study political science in college,” she shared, while also saying that her work needs to continue, both through an organization like the Alabama Alliance for Healthy Youth and at the local level.
“Most of all being on this council has made me realize how important it is to be involved as a young person. This is just the beginning for me, and I hope that it is the beginning for many young people. This is the time when we have a lot of work to do, and it is so important to be involved at the local level; that is why I am so grateful to be here tonight.”
In old business, the group discussed the end of their Toys for Tots program, which wrapped up this month. The group is still accepting both monetary and canned food donations for their food drive benefiting Cullman Caring for Kids.
In new business, the Cullman County Democrats will be relocating back to their Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce location between now and their next meeting in January. Details will be published as they are available.
Also, plans are in motion for the group to host a Democrat Fall Ball at Stone Bridge Farms. They have set up a planning committee and announced that there will be a speaker(s) at the event next fall. Several other new small events are in the works as well, but no definite dates have been set.
On a sad note, the group discussed the loss of the Free 2 Be building in Huntsville from the recent storms. The Free 2 Be group is dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community, and experienced a near total loss of their office building in Huntsville. Donations will be accepted both at the Chamber location next month and online on the Cullman County Democrats’ Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/Cullman-County-Democrats-131899477739/.
The new voicemail number for the Cullman County Democrats is 256-297-1064.
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