Summer’s Letter to Editor in NY Times

Summer HeadshotBREAKING NEWS: Youth Board Vice Chair Summer Montileaux’s Letter to the Editor of the New York Times was one of 16 — out of 1300 submissions — selected for publication in the New York Times TODAY.  Go Girl!

Summer’s Letter, titled “Silence About Sex on a Reservation” responds to Pine Ridge teacher Joe Flood’s May 17 Opinion Piece “What’s Lurking Behind the Suicides?”  Summer urges Reservation schools to address sex education head on and to teach youth about consensual sex versus rape – that “no” means “stop.”

In her Letter to the Editor, Summer says:

“Sexual abuse is a topic rarely discussed with children on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, even though it’s common to see girls as young as 13 being sexually active.

In my high school health class, we learned about E. coli and food poisoning, but teachers never mentioned rape, incest, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, H.I.V., birth control or condoms. What I know about those topics I learned either from my mother or from independent research.

Most reservation schools don’t teach students the difference between consensual sex and rape, and that “no” means stop. When I discuss rape with my friends, most accept it as a problem that can’t be stopped.

My community is hurting for so many reasons, and law enforcement is just one of many essential services that are underfunded. If there are no consequences for criminal behavior, then laws become difficult to enforce.

Teaching schoolchildren that there are consequences for nonconsensual sex and that they can and should stand up for themselves could make a dent in this self-destructive pattern. At the very least, it would be a step in the right direction.”

~Summer Montileaux


Background:  The article to which Summer’s Letter responds was the second substantial piece about the Pine Ridge Reservation published in the New York Times in the last month. Our Founder Maggie Dunne’s Letter to the Editor in response to the first piece was published in the NY Times on May 11.

We saw the High School competition notice, a few days later the NY Times ran an Opinion piece about Pine Ridge, and we encouraged High School Youth Board members to go for it — to let their voices be heardand SUMMER DID!

For more news about Summer Montileaux, please explore our BLOG (she’s a superstar) …and while you’re there, please consider contributing to her Trip to the White House.

Summer WEBOur programs can’t continue without the generosity of people like YOU, who are willing to #InvestInNativeYouth!  

 #NativeYouthVoices #GenI

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