When KC Miller (W, N ‘23) walked into Houston Market in his boyfriend’s blue Villanova hoodie and a heavy healthcare system textbook in his arm, he looked tired. In addition to two exams and one paper that he had to study for that week, he had just been interviewed by Cosmopolitan magazine for a feature in its upcoming December issue focusing on sex education in the United States. The week had exhausted him, but as soon as KC began talking about his advocacy work in revamping sex education, his energy was quickly recovered.
Despite being only a freshman, KC has created his own nonprofit organization called Keystone Coalition for Advancing Sex Education (CASE). His mission is to advocate for an LGBTQ+ inclusive and more comprehensive sexual health programming in public schools.
KC developed the idea to radically change sex education in public schools and promote unbiased sex education programs when he was a high school sophomore. The founding of Keystone was born out of two high school events that touched KC greatly: witnessing the lack of sex education in the gay community as a gay student himself and having friends come out as survivors of sexual assault.
“Having such close friends with that experience was heartbreaking to me,” KC said. “How can you help somebody? There’s nothing you can really do except for being there.”
However, KC’s passion for political involvement led him to view public policy as an avenue for tangible change. Before KC founded Keystone, he had been active in many other activities related to student health and political activism. He invited congressional candidate Lindy Lin to host a panel, created a peer counseling organization called SHAE (Sexual Assault Awareness Educators) to empower students to openly talk about sexual health, and was also one of the two student body presidents in his senior year, leading his peers to stand up for gun control.
“For me, with my backgrounds in politics, I knew that by implementing regulations in schools to talk about consent and sexual abuse can help decrease the rate of sexual violence,” KC said. “To me, it kind of seem like a no–brainer. If having those conversations will give us a better environment, then let’s do it.”
His passion for politics began when he was just seven years old, doing phone banking for Obama’s political campaign. “Mostly people just didn’t know that I was a child,” KC said, “There was one man who said in the phone, ‘I’m not sure whether I can be a volunteer,’ and I said back to him, ‘I’m seven years old. If I can do it, you can too! Let me just put you down as a yes.’”
KC’s main goal with Keystone is to eventually pass The Pennsylvania Healthy Youth Act. The initiative is inspired by California’s 2016 Healthy Youth Act, which mandates that school districts inform students on topics ranging from sexual anatomy and physiology to sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships, contraceptives, and sexual orientation. KC drafted the proposal for the state of Pennsylvania in his junior year of high school as an independent research project, despite there being no precedent for a project of that caliber. “It wasn’t a traditional independent project...I didn’t really have a mentor when doing all of this,” KC says.
Though he is still figuring out how to balance his busy schedule between Keystone and freshman year academics, KC is happy with where he is now. The welcoming LGBTQ+ community at Penn gives him a sense of belonging. “I’m excited to be part of Penn’s gay community,” KC says, “I have gay friends now, and my roommate is gay.” Along with Becky DeMarre (C '23), KC co-hosts a sex–education related podcast for The Daily Pennsylvanian called "The Talk with KC and Becky."
When talking about the future of Keystone, KC said the imminent goal is to get 15,000 signatures, including from medical professionals, and submit the proposal to the Pennsylvania legislature. KC, however, is constantly thinking about what he can do more. Though it is unclear where his four years at Penn will take him, KC says, “No matter what I do in the future, running businesses or being a nursing practitioner, Keystone will always be part of my life. ”