Angles reaches over 16,000 teens and young adults each year. We offer honest and non-judgmental dialogue to counteract confusing and polarizing messages about sex and sexual orientation, and a safe haven designed to support young people in making good decisions that will protect their health and their future.
The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that about 45% of high school students in Illinois have had sex and 33% are currently sexually active. Of those who are sexually active, 42% reported that they did not use a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse; 73% reported they did not use a hormonal birth control method or an IUD. The teen pregnancy rate in Illinois is close to the national average, which is higher than that of other developed countries. Sexually transmitted infections are also a concern: the Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 70% of the state’s chlamydia cases and 63% of the state’s gonorrhea cases occur in the 15-24 age group. Most of those infected – especially young women – experience no symptoms.
When a young person makes a decision to become sexually active, access to accurate information, medical care, and affordable birth control is critical to the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Many young people in our community are unable to access traditional reproductive health care through their family insurance due to concerns about confidentiality. Others have high-deductible insurance plans which require them to pay the full cost of physician visits until their deductible is reached. Our Clinic provides an affordable and accessible alternative, reaching over 400 teens and young adults last year.
Research has shown that comprehensive sex education programs can help delay the onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase the use of condoms and other contraceptives. While all schools include elements of sex education in their curriculum, many turn to Angles as the experts in this area. Last year, our Health Education programs reached over 15,500 students with presentations about sexual health, relationships, decision-making, and other health-related topics.
While the climate is changing for LGBTQ youth, many are still experiencing discrimination and rejection. Nationwide, 74% of LGBTQ students report verbal harassment at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Locally, our own needs assessment survey indicated that LGBTQ students living in North Shore communities still struggle with being acknowledged and respected in their identity, and LGBTQ youth in outlying suburbs often feel they are not accepted by peers, family members, and other adults. Depression and anxiety are common, and there is a strong desire to connect with others who are part of the LGBTQ community. Our Pride Youth Program provides direct support to help address these core issues, reaching over 140 teens from 36 communities last year.
For more information, please see our Annual Report.