In September 2016, the AMAZE initiative launched a series of short animated YouTube videos that provide accessible, age-appropriate sex education to children between the ages of 10 and 14. Born from a collaboration between sex education experts, AMAZE’s team is made up of people from Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health. Two months after releasing their first video, Donald Trump was elected president.
The Trump administration wasted no time working to take sex ed back to the 1950’s. Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs were abruptly cancelled, Trump proposed investing millions in abstinence-only sex education, and a staunch abstinence-only education advocate was appointed to Health and Human Services.
In our current political and educational climate, AMAZE’s work has proven to be more important than ever. And with over 7.5 million views on their YouTube channel, it’s clear that children are flocking to AMAZE’s videos to obtain the sex education that they’re not getting in the classroom.
Olivia Porretta, a high school senior and animator who has animated videos for AMAZE, told HelloGiggles that access to comprehensive sex ed information is sorely lacking in schools — and AMAZE fills that void through its accessible videos.
Hauser also said that a lack of consent education is a major problem in America. And when schools do express interest in the topic, it’s typically when they’re in search of a quick fix — which, of course, doesn’t exist.
In the #MeToo era, Hauser said many school districts have begun asking for consent education. Although this is a good thing, she worries that districts’ requests are misguided in the sense that they want to overly simplify a complicated, multi-layered issue.
Consent is hardly the only topic that’s missing from sex ed curriculums. Even in her liberal Connecticut school district, Porretta said LGBTQ issues aren’t given the attention they need and deserve.
In addition to tackling the issues that many school districts won’t address, AMAZE makes sure that each and every video is inclusive.
Even if videos aren’t focused on sexual orientation or gender identity, they all feature characters and couples that aren’t heterosexual.
As AMAZE continues to rack up millions of views in America, the initiative launched AMAZE en español in April. The culturally-relevant Spanish-language sex ed videos are the result of a partnership with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and DKT International. AMAZE en español launched with three videos, and a new video will be released every two weeks.
As the Trump administration and school districts all over the world attempt to deprive children of crucial, responsible sex education, AMAZE has proven to be an invaluable resource. Schools and teachers can pretend that sexual assault and gender identity aren’t worth discussing, but they can’t stop kids from seeking out this important information and educating themselves about these issues that affect their lives and their friends’ lives.