The reason why emojis are being used to teach sex ed

When it comes to communicating, we’ve come to know—and love—everything to do with emojis, all day, every day. They’re kind of our second language, if emojis counted in school instead of French or Spanish.

Or, more to the point, why say it with words when you can say it with a pineapple, or a ghost? Or a pizza?

via giphy

But now, emojis are being used for a very different reason, and it’s kind of awesome. The New York Times reports that NYC’s Health and Hospitals department is now using emojis to talk about sex ed with teens.

Peaches, monkeys, and eggplants, oh my!

You probably already knew that there was no way to avoid the infamous eggplant. And starting this week, any number of emojis—the peach and the eggplant included—will pop up in Facebook and Instagram feeds across the city, targeting kids age 12-21 who might need access to sound advice for sexual health questions, STD testing, or pregnancy prevention.

Once they click on the site, they’ll get directions to youth health services across the city that give them free access to healthcare. And, most of the time, they don’t need their parents’ permission. It’s confidential, it’s safe, it’s totally necessary.

Richard Zapata, the outreach and education manager for population health, told the Times that parents are avoiding awkward conversations at home, sometimes because of a religious or cultural reason, meaning that teens just don’t get the information they need.

“It’s hard to talk to someone about pregnancy testing,” Zapata said. “Those conversations aren’t really happening that much at home.”

But with this new initiative, doctors and other healthcare workers hope to get as many teens as possible tested and armed with information.

And so far, it’s working. Teens that Zapta has talked to love it. “They were like, ‘This is it,’” he said. “‘This is the way we’re talking.’”

We think it’s awesome that sex is being talked about in such an open, inclusionary way and hope this model’s used around the country to let teens know about the birds, the bees, and the emojis.

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