Advocates' Blog
Advocates' Blog
Omnibus Spending Bill: Some Wish List Items Plus A Little Coal in Our Stocking
Thursday, 17 December 2015 13:21

by Diana Rhodes, Director, Public Policy

Late Tuesday night, the long-awaited Omnibus funding bill for FY 2016 was released. Advocates for Youth, along with colleague organizations and activists from across the country, have been urging Congress to stand up for young people and their sexual health.

As a community, we have been pushing back against Congressional efforts to essentially eliminate the Office of Adolescent Health’s (OAH) Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), as well as urging Congress to NOT increase funding for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage programs.

And they listened. Kind of.

Partners & Allies: Toolkit for Meaningful Adolescent Girl Engagement
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 09:25

In December, the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG), a member-led and driven organization dedicated to supporting, investing in, and improving the lives of adolescent girls, released “Partners & Allies: Toolkit for Meaningful Adolescent Girl Engagement.” Developed with the goal of advancing practices related to adolescent girl engagement, the toolkit recognizes that girl engagement is distinct from youth engagement and requires intentionality, resources, and training. The toolkit provides information that is actionable for organizations’ on-going work with adolescent girls or for organizations looking to engage adolescent girls. Advocates for Youth is proud to have worked alongside the CAG and coalition members in the development of the toolkit, which features several cases studies including our work with the Girl Engagement Advisory Board.

A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 11:03

Formal sex education is one of the few sources of reliable information on sexuality and sexual health for youth. Hundreds of studies have shown that well-designed and well-implemented sex education can reduce risk behavior and support positive sexual health outcomes among teens, such as reducing unintended teen pregnancy and STI rates.

In order for LGBTQ youth to experience comparable health benefits to their non-LGBTQ peers, sex education programs must be LGBTQ-inclusive. Inclusive programs are those that help youth understand gender identity and sexual orientation with age appropriate and medically accurate information; incorporate positive examples of LGBTQ individuals, romantic relationships and families; emphasize the need for protection during sex for people of all identities; and dispel common myths and stereotypes about behavior and identity.

A new issue brief by Advocates for Youth, Answer, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) highlights the dearth of inclusive sex education programs and the missed opportunities to make a difference for LGBTQ youth.

"All young people benefit from comprehensive sex education which addresses sexual orientation and gender identity in an affirming and respectful way,” said Debra Hauser,  President of Advocates for Youth. "Further, LGBTQ youth have the right to information which can help them lead healthy lives.  In keeping with the National Sexuality Education Standards, we call on policy makers to work to ensure LGBTQ-inclusive sexuality education for all students."

A Call to Action: LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education urges educators, advocates, and policymakers to take immediate, concrete steps to provide LGBTQ-inclusive sex education for all youth, by:

World AIDS Day in Kenya: Saving Lives, Inspiring Activists
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 08:36

by Urooj Arshad, Asociate Director, International Youth Health and Rights

This past June, I had the incredible privilege of visiting Kisumu, Kenya to work with MAAYGO (Men Against AIDS Youth Group), an organization that Advocates for Youth is partnering with under its International LGBTQ+ Youth Health and Rights Program. MAAYGO seeks to inspire and motivate LGBTQ youth to plan and coordinate activities to create a stronger and healthier community for them, where effective participation in agenda for safer sex and sexual and reproductive health and rights, human rights, economic development, becomes a mutually accepted norm at community level.

MAAYGO’s work literally saves lives. To commemorate World AIDS Day, I wanted to highlight some stories of young people who have been impacted by MAAYGOs work to combat stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth.

Fred’s story:

"My name is Fred Ochieng, I am gay and living with HIV which I have had since birth. I face the double stigma and of being gay and HIV positive. For a while, I was in a state of denial and hated myself, but four years ago I was referred by a friend to attend an event organized by MAAYGO where I met MAAYGO’s staff and started networking with them. I re-tested for HIV and then started on treatment. I am also working through self-stigma and can now feel comfortable with who I am. I now live positively through taking my treatment and continue to attend MAAYGO’s peer sessions and support group."

On World AIDS Day, We Recommit to Prioritizing Young People
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 08:34

By Sonya Laddon Rahders, J.D., Law Students for Reproductive Justice Law & Policy Fellow at Advocates for Youth.

In July 2015, the White House released a new National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Thanks to coordinated advocacy efforts, the Strategy for the first time prioritized young people, furthering our goal of reaching an AIDS-free generation. Today, they will release the Implementation Plan that outlines just how these goals will be achieved. But what does that mean for young people moving forward? What does it mean for our communities? Here, we take a brief look at what it took to get here, and what it means for the future. And to honor World AIDS Day, we recommit to prioritizing young people in HIV and AIDS responses.

Standing strong, telling our stories
Monday, 30 November 2015 11:59

Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth

Words cannot express the sadness and horror we at Advocates for Youth feel about the events that unfolded this weekend at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Armed with a rifle and other devices, the attacker held the clinic hostage for hours, injured nine people, and took three lives.

These acts are unthinkable. They are also part of a long history of violence against providers and clinics which provide abortion care. The last three decades have seen dozens of attacks – with vehicles, pipe bombs, gasoline, and bullets.

And as the violence continues, violent words feed it – activists and politicians spew an endless stream of epithets, false accusations, misleading video, and outright lies about Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Make no mistake, anti-abortion activists take these steps with purpose. They intend to stop abortion at any cost – to fill people with fear and discomfort in even talking about it. In this silence, legislative and cultural attacks on abortion care can flourish.

But we can fight back by speaking out, by sharing our stories. Millions of us have had abortions. Ending the silence, speaking freely about our real experiences and listening to the experiences of others, is how we begin to create a culture of empathy, compassion, and support for access to abortion care – one in which abortion care providers are not vilified but are honored and respected for providing needed health care.

We condemn politicized rhetoric that continues to stigmatize women's reproductive and sexual health services and look forward to a time when no provider or patient needs to worry for his or her own safety. Advocates is proud to be part of the movement working to ensure that all women have access to the reproductive sexual health care services that they need, including abortion care. One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. As one of these women I'm personally grateful to Planned Parenthood and other abortion care providers for standing strong and keeping their doors open even in the face of adversity and danger.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains centers are open today, as are clinics around the nation. They are not letting fear keep them from providing vital services. And I will not let fear keep me from sharing my story. Advocates for Youth stands with Planned Parenthood today and every day.

We Stand With Abortion Care Providers
Friday, 27 November 2015 20:01

Advocates for Youth stands with Planned Parenthood and all health care providers and staff at abortion clinics, who do their profoundly important work in the face of threats and violence. Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy in Colorado Springs and we hope for their safety and protection.

The Supreme Court's Moment of Truth
Friday, 13 November 2015 14:23

Last week, the Supreme Court announced it will hear the most important abortion case in 2 decades: it will review the Texas law which would close nearly all of its clinics which offer abortion care services. For years politicians have been sneaking around the Constitution, chipping away our rights with the goal to leave millions with little or no real access, placing an “undue burden” on accessing abortion care.  

One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime.  We need to listen to their stories and create a culture of empathy and support for access to basic health care. We need to come out in support of each other and in support of access to legal and safe abortion care in our communities.

In 2014, Advocates for Youth’s 1 in 3 Campaign hosted the first ever online abortion speakout.  Over 100 people participated, sharing their stories and experiences with seeking abortion care. Faith leaders, health care providers, policy makers, student activists, and people from all walks of life spoke out.  Now, as the Supreme Court prepares to make its decision, the voices of the people are needed more than ever.  

It’s time to Speakout once again. Join us Jan. 19, 2016 for our live “amicus brief” where “we the people” will share our experiences with abortion and tell the Supreme Court why protecting access to abortion is so important.  Fill out this form by December 2 to participate in the 2016 Speakout live by Skype or in person.

Let the Supreme Court know we’re watching as they consider this historic decision. And we need them to decide in favor of dignity, autonomy, and safety.

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