Reducing Barriers to Sexual Health Services
Boston Public Schools, Massachusetts
Boston Public Schools, with CDC support, launched Y2Connect Boston, a web-based sexual health resource guide designed to increase students’ health literacy, empowering them to independently access needed health services.
Boston Public Schools developed a user-friendly website, Y2Connect, to help students find and access local youth-friendly services and improve health literacy through trusted, accurate information on topics such as appointment making, confidentiality rights, and healthy relationships. Student input was collected to inform the selection of a website platform that was easy to navigate.
District staff who specialize in sexual, school, and adolescent health compiled for the website a collection of information on how to access youth-friendly, local sexual health care services at Boston area hospitals, community clinics, and school-based clinics. This healthcare access information was paired with high-quality online resources to provide information on a variety of health topics.
These features aim to reduce barriers that students may experience when accessing health care. Students can use the Y2Connect website to find up-to-date details for specific clinics including:
- Information about services offered,
- Intake expectations, and
- Phone numbers for sexual health specialists.
To increase the visibility of Y2Connect Boston, school staff received informational postcards with links to the website. Boston Public Schools then trained key staff across the district on how to navigate and promote Y2Connect as a referral resource for students.
Once COVID-19 school closures went into effect in March 2020, Y2Connect Boston became a valuable tool to quickly communicate clinic updates to students. The resource guide was updated to include a category that highlighted clinics that remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic with instructions on how to make appointments at each.
Y2Connect Boston has proven to be a useful tool to build health literacy among students, empowering them to know how to access and utilize health services, and make it easier for them to access critical sexual health resources.
In the two years since its launch, Y2Connect Boston has been accessed nearly 6,000 times. Through these efforts, Boston Public Schools has reduced barriers to care for 27,000 students across the district.