Last Tuesday about 50 community members gathered at the Coalition’s Youth & Young Adults Committee (YYAC) monthly meeting to share in a powerful workshop about Survival Sex facilitated Queer Youth Community Organizing Interns TJ Petrik and Jackie Sandberg from PSKS. (These two participated in the YYAC’s Youth Advocacy Summit this year, and it was great to reconnect!) As a topic that is very prevalent in the lives of many in our community, but not discussed as much as it should be, it was good to share this conversation with service providers, case workers, advocates, and more so everybody could get tips for how to share important information with those they work with.
Some highlighted tips for service providers:
Find full list of tips from TJ and Jackie here
- Survival Sex can loosely be defined as “needs-based sexual activity” and is often traded for assurance of safety, a place to stay, money, protection, and drugs among other reasons.
- Needs based sexual activities are very complex and personal, and are especially prevalent among homeless youth and LGBTQ youth.
- Service providers can and should provide information and resources about sex work while being sensitive to those they are serving.
- Many people may not be open about sharing so it is important to make sure everyone knows that resources are available by using space in your facility to educate people via fliers, events, and non-derogatory language. It was suggested by many in the room that one approach for intake workers and service providers to share information would be by asking: “Would you or anyone you know like information about resources for those involved in survival sex.” Asking questions such as this allow space for individuals to access resources without having to disclose personal information.
- When working with a young person who’s engaged in needs-based sex work, it’s important to discuss risk reduction. For example: If the young person works alone, then discuss what having a buddy system could look like, and what the ups and downs of that would be.
List of Important Resources and Organizations from TJ and Jackie:
- Prepared by TJ and Jackie: Survival Sex Definition and Case Studies
- Organization for Prostitution Survivors
- Sex Workers Outreach Project of the Northwest
- LifeLong AIDS Alliance
- Genesis Project
- Seattle Against Slavery
- Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS)
- The Orion Center
- Jackie and TJ are also in the process of creating a peer-based support group for youth who are involved in sex work. Stay tuned for more information!
These are important conversations to have and we are glad that so many organizations were represented at the meeting to take this information back to their spaces and spread the conversation widely. If you have any questions or would like to look into the possibility of having a Survival Sex workshop at your organization or continue to be part of the growing educational movement, please email Hillary@homelessinfo.org.
Thanks to everyone who came out and especially thanks to Jackie and TJ for leading such a dynamic and important discussion!
We hope to see you at the January Youth & Young Adults Committee Meeting: Tuesday January 13, 2015, 10:00-11:30 a.m. @ All Pilgrims Christian Church: 509 10th Ave E, Seattle, 98102 (note temporary location change for Jan).