“Pass the Mic,” an educational video that addresses sexual health education for age-appropriate youth in California public schools is now available, the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women has announced. The video is consistent with the requirements of the California Healthy Youth Act that took effect in 2016.

According to the California Department of Education website: “The state legislation, originally known as AB 329, requires that students in grades seven through twelve receive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education at least once in middle school and once in high school.

“However, school districts under the leadership of their locally elected boards and superintendents are tasked with selecting which curriculum and instructional resources [including textbooks and worksheets] they will use to teach this material to students.”

“Pass the Mic” is a recent 30-minute documentary that brings together local Santa Barbara high school students who share individual coming-of-age stories about navigating the challenges and uncertainties of adolescence, sexual identity, and other sexual health matters in a safe and secure space.

There is also an expert section of the documentary that features Van Do-Reynoso, Santa Barbara County Public Health director; Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons, USC assistant professor of medicine; and Rebeca Mireles-Rios, professor, UCSB Gevirtz Graduate School of Education.

They consider the need for quality sexual health education in public schools, and the role of teen peers in healthy sex education dialogues.

Produced just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Santa Barbara County Health Department, “Pass the Mic” is ready for its public premiere and availability for adoption as part of any schools’ sexual health education curricula compliance.

“Pass the Mic” creator/producer Suzanne Peck, who is also a Santa Barbara County commissioner, developed the educational video in partnership with her co-executive producer Mary Ziegler, Santa Barbara High School math teacher and GSA teacher advisor, with the intent to support school districts and other educational entities as they address the importance of healthy and relevant sexual education for today’s youth.

“Pass the Mic” participants had the following comments:

“You’re going through high school and it’s hard, it’s so awkward. You’re gonna be OK, you’re gonna make it. A lot of people are gonna change, whether it’s their gender, sexuality, hair, bodies, like everyone is going through a thing, and the most powerful thing you can do is just stick with it. It’s gonna be messy, it’s gonna be weird, but it’s gonna get better.” — Johari Hunt, UCSB student.

“As a public health director, I always worry about our rate of STIs and why they are continually on the increase. I think that with education, with skills, with knowledge and allies, we as a community can make headways into that. Also, this is a crazy world that we live in with a lot of misinformation, so it’s really critical that our youth learn the skills to develop healthy attitudes.” — Van Do-Reynoso

“I’ve never seen anything like this, where I’ve heard the voices of the kids, student voices, and so to think about what teachers can learn, and how peers can learn from each other, and how they support each other and the knowledge there that you see … it’s not something you can get in a textbook. This, as a tool for educators, is critical, and other students will see themselves in this video.” — Rebeca Mireles-Rios

Watch the full “Pass the Mic” video here.

Appointed by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, the Commission for Women is an advisory group that promotes the well-being, equity, and equal status of women. Formed in 1973, the commission is comprised of a diverse group of women who are active community members representing the five supervisorial districts.

To help women in need, the commission may collaborate with other agencies and commissions; facilitate, recognize, and recommend programs; gather and disseminate information; conduct public meetings, and advise the county Board of Supervisors.