Updated: May 3
Jessica Mejia and Jonis Nava:
A Real Texas Family Sex Education Success Story
By Eleni Pacheco
Being a pregnant and parenting teen:
“Teen parenting can be prevented, and I believe it is up to us to collaboratively make that happen.”
“As a pregnant teenager, I did not have the resources that we have today." Jessica was fifteen years old when she became pregnant with Jonis, not having received any sex education and feeling like sex was taboo in her culture. “I was not even sure of my own body... or anything that I understand now.”
Jessica’s experience as a pregnant and parenting teen had two major components: support and resilience.
“I disappointed many people, including myself,” she said, “but I was more distraught about the adults that were angry at me.” Her community support system fell through, as adults and teens alike stopped considering her youth. “A teenager is not an adult and does not think like one regardless of having adult responsibilities. You can guide and mentor them but do not expect them to behave as an adult parent.”
Many teens feel alone in dealing with their sexual health. Being bullied or shunned is enough to make a young person want to disengage from school and work. San Antonio has over 30,000 youth who are not working or in school, which harms community strength and limits the economy. Jessica, however, was resilient. “Being involved in sports after I had my son allowed me to be a thriving adolescent – I was still a teenager after all. I write about that journey in my book. It kept me alive.”
Being the parent of a teen:
Jessica didn’t have a blueprint to work off of when it came to having conversations with her son about sex – she was breaking a generational trend by talking to her child about sex, and, in turn, preventing generational trauma and poverty. As Jonis began to develop, she knew he needed the resources she didn’t have access to when she became a pregnant teen.
“Parents need to talk to their children,” Jessica says, adding that teens also need “a safe place to talk about sex and healthy relationships outside of their home, too.”
Jessica made it clear that her role as his mother always trumped being her son's friend, therefore she felt there were certain boundaries necessary for him to feel comfortable with the topic. “My son received sex education [...] outside of the home – which he agrees was necessary for him to understand. We spoke about sex at home, but Big Decisions [and Healthy Futures] gave him an outlet at school and with his peers.”
Research shows that the more teens know about sex, the less likely they are to start having sex at an early age. Jessica and Jonis are living proof of that.
“[Jonis] has always wanted a family. He gained so much knowledge about family planning and sex education that he made a decision to wait to be a parent after he attained his high school, college, and future career goals.”
Today, Jessica works as a motivational speaker on teen pregnancy prevention, and Jonis continues to work towards his goals with plans to have a family when the timing is right. They both have high hopes for Texas, agreeing that teen pregnancy is “a family issue” and a healthy future requires “sex education and abstinence-plus programs to educate [teens and] their parents.”
Click here to invest in young people and healthy futures for all Texans.
Eleni Pacheco, San Antonio Project Coordinator, discovered their passion for culture and sexuality while studying anthropology at UTSA. They chose to work in sex ed with the mission of creating world peace through shared power and community efficacy. Outside of education, Eleni shows love by feeding their friends (often experimenting on them with new recipes) and bonding over backyard karaoke.