August 8, 2014

Battle of bands, sex-ed on tap in Merced

A few local groups are putting on a free concert event called Respecticon on Saturday centered around sex education and respect for one another. It’s aimed at teens and offers free pizza at Playhouse Merced.

A battle of the bands will be held Saturday to promote sex education in Merced County, where the teen birth rate is much higher than the state average.

Three local bands will play during Respecticon, planned from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Playhouse Merced, 452 W. Main St. The event’s name is a play on social gatherings like Comic-Con, the San Diego-based pop-culture mecca.

Merced-based Middlestate Feminists put the event together as a response to the high birth-rate numbers, said Bee Hernandez, vice president of communications.

The event will include “sex-positive” education, she said. “It’s not a potentially dangerous thing,” she said, as an example of the lessons. “(Sex) is a natural human occurrence, and there are ways to prevent yourself from getting hurt and getting the unwanted consequences that sometimes come with sex.”

In Merced County, there were 41.6 births per every 1,000 teens between 2010 and 2012, according to a report released in June by the California Department of Public Health. That is a decrease from the average recorded in last year’s report of 44.9 teen births for the years of 2009 to 2011.

The rate remains much higher than the state birth rate, a record low of 25.7 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19.

“Those numbers are really outrageously high,” Hernandez said. “That’s what motivated us to realize this event is needed.”

Merced-based bands “In Fate’s Eyes,” “Second at Best” and “Atlas Infinity” will all play sets at the event. Each set will be followed by breaks, either for food or sex-education lessons.

Building Healthy Communities and nonprofit We’Ced Youth Media teamed to make the event go. Presentations by Planned Parenthood and Valley Crisis Center are also planned.

The event is free for those from ages 12 to 19. Food and raffles are planned.

An hour-long class is also planned at 11 a.m. for parents.

The organizers are offering free transportation. To ask for a ride or for more information, send an email to middlestatefeminists@gmail.com. The group is also available on Facebook.

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