The latest stories featuring youth activists and staff
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Sexting in Sex Education
"Sex education needs to be modernized. So many don't even receive comprehensive sex education." Brittany McBride is the senior program manager for sexuality education at Advocates for Youth. She says that children need a complete idea of the possible legal consequences of sexting, but not in a shameful way. And she says that includes talking about consent. "Understanding consent really sets us up for success, to understand what a healthy relationship that may or may not include sexting could entail. That includes clear communication and conversation from the beginning and then consistently throughout the relationship."
This bill could make it harder for teens to get birth control (Vox, 1/14/20)
But others say that Nexplanon (a brand name for the implant) and the IUD are generally very safe, and that the bill could keep teens from getting reproductive health care they need. A parental permission requirement could block young people in abusive or otherwise unsafe homes from getting birth control, Rebecca Thimmesch, manager of Advocates for Youth’s Free the Pill Youth Council, told Vox. And regardless of home environment, having to notify a parent places an additional obstacle in front of teens seeking birth control, making it more likely they will experience an unintended pregnancy. While laws specifically targeting methods of birth control are rare, the law is part of a larger pattern of states requiring parental notification and consent for reproductive health services from abortion to childbirth care when teens do have children, Thimmesch said. “It is really tricky, across the country, for young people to be getting the care that they need safely and confidentially and affordably,” she said. “Any efforts to make that harder are definitely moving in the wrong direction.”
39 Abortion Stories Show Just How Important Abortion Access Is (Teen Vogue, 1/9/20)
"With help from Shout Your Abortion and Advocates for Youth, I went in search of 39 stories from people who have had abortions — instead, I collected 60 stories from people all across the country. "
With STDs Rising, Advocates Hope State Legislators Will Fix Harmful Sex Ed Laws (ReWire, 1/9/20)
“Young people need sex education that not only includes information about the prevention [of] STI[s], but also builds their skills to communicate effectively about boundaries and desires, negotiate condom use, and routinize STI screening,” Advocates for Youth President Debra Hauser told Rewire.News. “Unfortunately, many schools omit important lessons on condom use in the misguided fear of provoking controversy. This omission stigmatizes condoms and leaves many youth more vulnerable.”
Parents should start teaching sex ed while their children are in diapers, experts say (Insider, 1/3/20)
"Children are trying to make sense of their body parts, and their feelings" Nora Gelperin, director of Sexuality Education for Advocates for Youth, a group that advocates for access to sexual health education and services, told Insider. "It all feels overwhelming."
The Making of the Gum Wall (Now This x Trojan, 11/17/19)
Abstinence-only programs are failing students around the country, leading to a national rise in STIs. We took a look at the students fighting for a solution. (Featuring Lincoln Mondy)
The Birds And The Bees — How To Talk To Children About Sex (NPR, 12/17/19)
Brittany McBride is a sex educator with Advocates for Youth, and she works with 40 of the largest school districts in the U.S. to improve sex education. McBride explains how she answered that question when her own daughter was just 5 or 6 years old. "Really, when a kid is that young," McBride says, "the question is not so much about sex but instead about, like, space and time. And where was I before I got here? And how did I get here? As opposed to the actual act of sex and how they were created." So, McBride says, just answer the question they're asking. No less, no more. So the first answer could be: "You grew in [mom or your birth mom's] uterus. And that's where a baby lives and grows until they're born. And then you were born, and you joined our family and we've loved you."
Why Are Misleading Ads About HIV Prevention Appearing on Facebook? (Healthline, 12/16/19)
"Just last month, Prevention Access Campaign and Merck released a study that showed accurate knowledge of HIV seems to be decreasing among millennials and Gen Z. It’s something that Adonis Timone is trying to personally push back against. Timone is a member of ECHO (Engaging Communities around HIV Organizing), a council of youth activists who live with HIV, which was established by Advocates for Youth, one of the organizations that signed the open letter. Timone, who is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told Healthline they find it crucial to combat any information on social media that might seem like “propaganda” that could be harmful to vulnerable communities. Given that Timone has been vocal about their experiences living with HIV, they said friends and acquaintances, both in person and online, will frequently ask them questions about some of the information circulating online. “People will ask me questions and sometimes I don’t have the full answer to whether something is ‘news’ — sometimes it’s hard to determine whether it’s ‘real news’ or ‘fake news,’” they said. Timone added these kinds of social media ads can lead to heated discussions online, as users debate whether or not what they are seeing is accurate. “Because I don’t like to argue on the internet, I just try to post the accurate information. Sometimes I’ll just leave it there to let it sink in even if I get a lot of backlash for sharing that information,” Timone said."
Wanting More From Birth Control in the Age of Trump (Vice, 12/12/19)
"Becca Thimmesch is a campaign manager at Free the Pill, an organization working to bring a birth control option over the counter, covered by insurance, and accessible to people of all ages. Thimmesch acknowledged that her birth control journey has been “extremely long and painful.” She said she tried a half dozen pills, then the Nuvaring, which she liked. Then, in a long-term relationship, she decided to get a Mirena IUD. “Obviously the Trump administration is making things worse,” she said. “But frankly many of the young people I work for have always had a hard time accessing the care they need, irrespective of who sits in the White House. So, to me it’s less about fighting a particular presidential administration and more about building a better future for all young people.”
Sexual Assault Survivors who Want Restorative Justice Have Limited Options (The Appeal, 12/10/19)
And Sage Carson, who runs the youth civil rights group Know Your IX, said the survivors advocacy community is recognizing that prisons can result in further harm and might not always be the best way to hold people accountable. But they still encounter scenarios like one that Carson experienced when she worked with domestic violence survivors while in college in Delaware. “I remember sitting with our client and she said she was raped by her husband,” Carson recalled, “and both officers looked at us and said, ‘Well that’s not a thing.’ Many of those systems are still at the point where they’re not taking the act of violence seriously.”
Remembering NYCs Queen of Nightlife: Lady Catiria, HIV-Positive Transgender Performer (The Body)
(By Louie Ortiz-Fonseca) Unearthing the histories and legacies of people we lost to AIDS sometimes means discovering and losing someone in the same moment. The celebration can quickly become a kind of grief that leaves you raging and fighting ghosts of a not-so-distant past that allowed such extraordinary losses to happen. This is how I would describe my discovery of the legend, Lady Catiria.
World AIDS Day Opinion: Tennessee School Sex Ed is a No (Out and About Nashville, 12/1/19)
(by Lisa, ECHO member) On October 12, 2012, my life took a turn I would have never seen coming. At seventeen years old, I sat across from a stranger while he asked me personal questions about my previous sexual partners and encounters with no explanation as to why. Once I became reluctant to answer out of confusion, he proceeded to tell me that I was HIV-positive. My heart dropped to my stomach and I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. My body became motionless and the air around me seemed empty. I would have never imagined that I would be sitting in a health department office with a look and feeling of such defeat. That day changed me forever, but it also helped mold me into the person I am today.
The Stigma Against AIDS Is An "Epidemic" In Itself & Here's How To Fight It (Bustle, 12/1/19)
"28% of millennials believe they can contract HIV through [skin to skin] contact like hugging," Toraje Heyward tells Bustle, citing a study conducted by the pharmaceutical company Merck and Prevention Access, a health equity initiative that fights stigma against HIV and AIDS. Heyward, who lives with HIV, is a council member for ECHO, a "first-of-its kind council of youth activists living with HIV who are actively organizing online and in their communities." ECHO is run through the organization Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit dedicated to sexual health education, the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and more.
Supporting Youth Through Mentorship (12/1/19)
(By Tyreese, ECHO member) I found out I was HIV positive when I was 18 years old, and now I am 24. When I first found out my diagnosis, it was a bit tough simply because of the stigma that comes with having HIV in my community. I was ashamed for many years until I found a mentor in my community who helped me find the confidence to get on medication and tell my story. When I turned 20 and started my medication, it was difficult to be consistent as I was struggling with housing and additional barriers at the time. My mentor always tried to keep me in good spirits and never judged or stigmatized any decision I made. He supported me in finding a job and home, which helped me take my medication consistently.
VIEWPOINT: Take Action for AIDS Day (The Hoya, 12/1/19)
(by Talia and Chloe, Muslim Youth Leadership Council members) On Dec. 1, we commemorate World AIDS Day. As of 2018, approximately 38 million people around the world are living with HIV. 770,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2018 alone, bringing the total AIDS-related deaths since the start of the epidemic to a staggering 32 million people. Treatment access has increased but is still not comprehensive; in 2018, 62% of people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment.
Dads Controlling Their Daughters' Sexuality Has Side Effects. These Women Would Know. (Bustle, 11/27/19)
"There is an inherent judgment in saying something like you should wait until marriage," Caitlyn Caruso, manager of state and local campaigns at Advocates for Youth, tells Bustle. "Even if fathers aren't saying directly 'you're impure,' that is the message received when young people are being told what is right and what is wrong." "It's fair to say that young people having sex is still a relatively taboo topic," Caruso says. Caruso also points out that because young folks are reliant on their parents for everything, creating restrictive or judgmental ideas makes it difficult to be honest about their experiences if they aren't in line with familial ideals. If you aren't promoting autonomy around sexual experience, it communicates that you can't actually share openly. Caruso says this can and does lead to adverse consequences, like being less likely to seek sexual healthcare, or report harm or violation as it relates to sexuality.
Betsy DeVos poised to issue sweeping rules governing campus sexual assault (Washington Post, 11/25/19)
Sage Carson, manager of the Know Your IX project at Advocates for Youth, an advocacy group, said the flood of public comments may not have changed the Education Department’s mind but could lay the groundwork for a legal challenge. “We hope it will give us grounds to really fight the rule through litigation,” she said.
How The Hymen & "Virginity Testing" Myths Got Started (Bustle, 11/25/19)
"The American Medical Association condemns virginity tests," Brittany McBride, senior program manager for sexuality education at Advocates for Youth, tells Bustle. "A doctor who is committed to ensuring young people are healthy and safe would never conduct such a test or share that personal information without the young person's permission."
As A Young, Black, Queer, Transwoman, Here’s Why I Refuse To Be A Second-Class Citizen In The Workplace (Blavity, 11/21/19)
(By Maxine, YouthResource) Getting a job is not as easy as one, two, three, especially when you’re someone like me — young, Black, Queer, Transwoman, closeted and fresh out of college. On top of the difficulties inherent to finding a job, I have to worry about how my identities affect my ability to actually get and keep a job because I live in Tennessee, a place that has almost no legal protections against discrimination when it comes to my identities as a Queer Transwoman. This fact limits me well before I ever fill out an application. And in 2020, the Supreme Court will decide if discrimination against trans and other LGBTQ+ people in workplaces all over America is legal. Their decision will affect the foundation for what my life — and the lives of millions of young people like me — will look like in the future.
America’s sex education system is broken. This chatbot wants to be the solution. (Vox, 11/17/19)
That’s where Nora Gelperin, a parent and longtime sex educator who’s currently the director of sexuality education and training at an organization called Advocates For Youth, comes in. She developed a sex ed video series called Amaze. With over 80 installments on topics ranging from gender identity and sexual orientation to sex trafficking, intersectionality, puberty, and even wet dreams, Gelperin revealed that technology can be “really a great companion for adults, whether they’re parents and caregivers or professionals having these conversations.”
How To Observe Transgender Awareness Week When You're Trans (Bustle, 11/15/19)
In the face of the kinds of awareness that can create more suffering, it can be hard to find solace and ways to celebrate ourselves. But each year of living can be a victory. “As a Black, Trans non-binary person, each year that I am privileged enough to survive is a year to celebrate and reflect on,” August Clayton, 22, a student and organizer, tells Bustle. Feeling hyper-visible during a week that often reminds us of our mortality and fallen community is incredibly exhausting. Clayton, an activist with Advocates for Youth, which works towards sexual health equity, says that TAW needs to be about more than awareness of trans death and suffering. “Cis folks should know that we are more than our rising death toll. We have dreams, love interests, build families, and are nuanced communities; choose to center our lives and continue to act on injustice.”
Rapper T.I. says he takes his virgin daughter for annual hymen check (LA Times, 11/6/19)
“Hymens are not a measure of virginity,” Brittany McBride, a veteran sexual health educator with Advocates for Youth, told The Times. The organization provides sexual health information for young people through the website Amaze.org. T.I.'s children, like all young people, have a basic human right to a private relationship with their healthcare provider, McBride said, criticizing his behavior as a serious intrusion on that right. She noted that the idea of a “need for virginity” with daughters — something rarely discussed with sons — was “an unjust and unfair measure of where this person’s value lies, in a thin, mucosal piece of tissue that’s unfairly equated with a person’s worth.”
‘Virginity Testing’ Is a Dangerous Sham (The Cut, 11/7/19)
“The misconceptions that these tests have anything to do with virginity are unfortunately widespread, and our society continues to spread these myths as if they were based on scientific facts,” Brittany McBride, the senior program manager of Sexuality Education at Advocates for Youth, told the Cut. “This misconception that virginity can be tested is truly archaic and sexist and shames people with vulvas. Virginity is a concept that is completely personal and private — it is not a benchmark one is able to meet or not meet.”
Sex Education Rally Reminds Teens "You Are Not Chewed Gum" (Teen Vogue, 10/30/19)
“You are not chewed gum,” read an art display featuring wads of gum, located in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., unveiled on October 30 by advocates for science-based comprehensive sexual education. The display, organized by Advocates for Youth and Trojan, sought to push back on abstinence-only messaging that says sexually active youth are comparable to a chewed piece of gum for future partners.
With STIs On the Rise, Advocates Want Evidence-Based Sex Education (Rewire, 10/30/19)
Bukky Ogunrinola, a sophomore at Howard University and a representative of Advocates for Youth—which fights for sexual health, rights, and justice—went to a public high school in Idaho. She told Rewire.News she has seen firsthand the way fear-based tactics can backfire among a group of sexually curious young people. “As a product of fear-based sex ed, it’s never productive,” she said. “Now young people feel they need to hide everything when it comes to their sexual health.”
You Are Not Chewed Gum (Ms, 10/30/2019)
"Some of these programs compare sexually active teens to chewed-up gum; others compare them to cups of spit or used pieces of tape. Some teachers call students who aren’t virgins “tainted” and “impure.” And in most classrooms, the people being shamed for their sexual lives are young women and girls. Young people are speaking back—and demanding better from their national leaders. In partnership with Trojan, Advocates for Youth today will erect a 20-foot activist billboard covered in chewed-up gum speaking truth to power. “You Are Not Chewed Gum,” it will read. “Information Is the Best Protection.”"
Trojan Tackles Abstinence-Only Sex Ed With a Giant Billboard Made of Chewed Gum (Clio, 10/30/2019)
Who needs high-tech holograms or Hollywood-quality sets and special effects to create a memorable social-issues installation—when 50,000 pieces of chewed-up, spit-soaked gum will get your point across just fine? On Oct. 30, Trojan condoms—with 72andSunny New York and nonprofit Advocates for Youth—staged a "chew-a-thon" on the National Mall in Washington, inviting passersby to add chomped-up pieces of gum to a most unappetizing wall display.
We Heart: The “Abortion Out Loud” Campaign Centering Young Voices (Ms, 10/24/19)
The campaign kicked off Wednesday with a week of action engaging students on over 100 campuses. The launch events will be part abortion speak-out and part reflection on an increasingly urgent question: “Why do you say abortion out loud?” Some are also acts of resistance in a country where abortion rights are under attack.
Here's Why Latinx Students Need Access to PrEP on College Campuses (plus, 10/15/19)
(by Daniel Nava Cabral, Youth Resource) PrEP, the strategy that prevents HIV, has existed for seven years. And statistically, as a young Latinx queer person, I’m in one of the groups that could benefit from PrEP. Yet I didn’t even hear about it until 2017 — and then, only because I was lucky to have informed people in my life. That’s just one small example of how when it comes to HIV prevention, queer Latinx youth are facing so many barriers, including a lack of comprehensive sexual health education, and stigma both within the Latinx community and in our society as a whole.
How One Clinic is Making Sure LGBTQ+ Latinx People in DC Get Care (Sex Positive, 10/15/19)
(by Armonte Butler, Advocates for Youth) National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day, annually celebrated on October 15, reminds us that it’s important to highlight and uplift the work of Latinx and Afro-Latinx-led organizations on the ground combatting HIV and LGBTQ-related stigma and discrimination. This month, I was able to chat with Manuel J. Diaz-Ramirez, Director of Community Health Action at La Clínica del Pueblo. La Clínica is a clinic that serves the Latinx population of the Washington, DC, metropolitan area by providing medical services, mental health and substance abuse counseling, language access services, and community health action programs. La Clínica was founded as a project of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), providing free medical services in a volunteer-run clinic.
Judge Vacates 2016 Health Care Rule That Banned Discrimination Against Transgender Patients (HealthLeaders, 10/15/19)
The decision to vacate the 2016 rule drew condemnation from LGBTQ rights advocates. Tyunique Nelson, a YouthResource activist who identifies as nonbinary, said their right to healthcare shouldn't even be up for public debate. "As trans and gender-nonconforming young people, it's bad enough every day we have to deal with people who violate our rights and treat us as lesser human beings," Nelson said in a statement released to HealthLeaders. "Allowing health care providers to deny us care is a danger to our health and a direct threat to our lives. I have the right not to experience discrimination when I'm going to the doctor, and so does every other trans and gender-nonconforming young person."
Closer Look: Youth Advocates Share How To Talk To Teens About STD Prevention (WABE, 10/14/19)
Rates of sexually transmitted disease diagnoses increased for the fifth consecutive year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report, released last week. How can this be prevented? We revisit last week’s conversation with Dr. Walkitria Smith, Family Medicine Associate Program Director at the Morehouse School of Medicine and Dr. Gail Bolan, director for CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. Plus, Dr. Shelley Francis-Travis and Deb Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, join “Closer Look” today for a conversation about best practices for STD education, and increasing awareness among teenagers and young adults.
Congress Can Help Girls Worldwide Stay in School
by Keke, International Youth Leadership Council - Every year on October 11, when the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child, I think of young women like Alem, who I met in Ethiopia this past summer. Alem was thirteen when her father arranged for her to marry one of the older men in her village. She ran away and came to the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, to find work. Alem has been working for five years. She’s just just 18 years old. She told me that even though having an income was nice, she really wanted to go back to school.
International Day Of The Girl: A Day To Celebrate Girls And Commit To Their Rights And Well-being (The HundrEd, 11/10/19)
(by Nicole Cheetham, Director, International Division) October 11 marks the International Day of the Girl, a day to celebrate girls worldwide, bring attention to some of the unique needs and challenges that girls face, and recommit to gender equality and the fulfillment of girls’ human rights. At AMAZE.org, an initiative that provides very young adolescents with medically accurate, age-appropriate, and honest sexuality education that is grounded in gender equality, educating and empowering girls is central to our mission. As someone who has worked with young people and youth-serving organizations in the global south to make access to sexual and reproductive health information and services more of a reality, I am proud to be a part of this initiative that brings sexuality education to young people through online, short, animated films.
As STI Rates Soar, Trump Is Funding Clinics That Don't Believe in Condoms (Vice, 10/10/19)
“We’ve known for decades that the best way to prepare young people to protect their health is to provide honest, complete sex education that gives them the tools they need to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs,” Hauser said. In addition to denying young people the resources they need to have safe sex, groups like Obria are also heaping shame onto the very idea of sex, Hauser said, which can discourage them from seeking out help and education elsewhere. “It’s propagating stigma and misinformation while doing nothing to help prevent STDs,” Hauser continued. “If we want young people to protect themselves from STDs, we have a responsibility to give them the information and skills they need, as well as providing reproductive and sexual healthcare services and making sure condoms are available.”
Supreme Court To Decide If Employers Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ+ Community (Colorlines, 10/8/19)
"Shabre West, a peer leader with Advocates For Youth, said in an emailed statement: “The job market is hard enough—the last thing young queer people need is homophobes and transphobes making it even harder with the support of the law. As a young, Black, queer woman, I’m here to tell you this generation will not allow our rights to be rolled back. All employers should do is foster an environment where young LGBTQ/nonbinary employees are valued, protected and empowered.”
Hyde Makes Navigating Reproductive Health Care Even Harder for Black Muslims (Rewire, 9/26/19)
(by Vanessa, member of the Muslim Youth Leadership Council, with quotes from other members of MyLC) "Given the Trump administration’s open hostility to reproductive rights, it is easy to forget that attacks on reproductive health care—especially for people with low incomes—are part of a long history of undermining access that is not limited to a single administration or political party. The experiences of Black Muslims may be complex due to sitting at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities, but they cannot be ignored in the fight for reproductive justice."
PrEP Deserts Are Keeping Crucial Medication Out of the Hands of Gay Men (Sex Positive, 9/27/19)
"Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a pill that people can take daily that is up to 90 percent effective at preventing one from contracting HIV. But even though it is a key sexual health tool, many people who need the drug aren’t getting it. " - by Armonte Butler, LGBTQ Health and Rights Program Manager
Dreaming Big on World Contraception Day (Ms., 9/26/19)
"I help lead contraceptive access initiatives across the country at Advocates for Youth. Through our work with young people and partner organizations, I’m constantly seeing how prescription requirements and age restrictions place unnecessary burdens on young people attempting to access contraception."
Get Advice on Talking to Your Kid About Sex With These Videos (Lifehacker, 9/23/19)
"Amaze, which is sponsored by the non-profit organization Advocates for Youth in collaboration with Answer and Youth Tech Health, has created a variety of resources for parents and kids to navigate an array of delicate topics. Its Age Guide is particularly helpful, categorizing dozens of videos for ages 3+, 5+, 7+, 10+, 13+, and for caregivers. "
It’s not about sex: Teaching young children where babies come from (and other stuff) (Washington Post, 9/23/19)
One way to help parents learn how to talk to their kids about sex-adjacent topics without losing their cool is an online video series called “Amaze Jr.” (There’s also a well-watched series for teens called “Amaze.”) Ten of the animated YouTube videos, which are produced by a trio of nonprofits, are for young kids and another 11 are aimed at adults....Experts interviewed for this article identified just three available curriculums aimed at elementary-age children that hit on the main components — sexual abuse prevention, healthy relationship skills, medically accurate information about bodies and reproduction and material that is inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations — recommended in the National Sexuality Education Standards. Rights, Respect, Responsibility was developed by Advocates for Youth and includes free lesson plans for all of the elementary grades. Our Whole Lives: Lifespan Sexuality Education (OWL) was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ and includes 8- and 10-lesson units for grades K-1 and 4-6, respectively.
1 In 16 Women’s First Sexual Experiences Were “Forced Or Coerced,” A New Study Shows (Bustle, 9/17/19)
“For folks that work in sexual violence spaces, this news was not surprising,” Sage Carson, the manager of Know Your IX, an advocacy group that works to end sexual violence in schools, tells Bustle. “We have known for a long time that young people experience extremely high rates of sexual violence, and also lack education and awareness about what healthy sexual relationships and encounters look like,” she says, adding that it was helpful to see that “what we're seeing on the ground is also showing up in the data.”
Women seek abortions out of state amid restrictions (AP, 9/8/19)
The coalition helped Beth Vial, who didn’t learn she was pregnant until she was six months along after chronic medical conditions masked her symptoms. As a 22-year-old college student living in Portland, Oregon, Beth Vial (Youth Testify storyteller) was beyond the point when nearly every abortion clinic in the country would perform the procedure. Vial’s only option for an abortion was New Mexico, where a volunteer with the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice drove her to and from the clinic in Albuquerque and brought her meals. The support she received inspired her to join the board of Northwest Access Abortion Fund, which helps women in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. “To have people I didn’t even know support me in ways that I didn’t even really know I needed at the time was unlike anything I have ever experienced,” said Vial, now 24. “It has encouraged me to give back to my community so other people don’t have to experience that alone.”
I Struggled to Afford My Abortion, But It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way (LA Progressive, 8/30/19)
California is often celebrated as a leader in reproductive rights and access to abortion. But despite our state’s proactive policies, low-income people and young people still struggle to get the care they need. I know because I was one of them. (Jessy Rosales, storyteller with YouthTestify )
California Tries Again To Make Medication Abortions Available At Its Colleges (NPR, 8/30/19)
When Jessy Rosales [a storyteller with Youth Testify] was a sophomore at the University of California-Riverside, she had a boyfriend and was taking birth control pills. Then, out of nowhere, she started feeling sick. “I just thought it was the stomach flu,” she said. “It turns out I was pregnant.” Rosales was sure she was not ready to have a baby. She wanted a medication abortion that would involve taking one pill at a health clinic, and a second one at home a day or two later to induce a miscarriage. “I just wanted the intimacy of dealing with it on my own, in the privacy of my own home,” she said. “And being able to cry if I wanted to cry or just being able to curl up in my bed right away.” Public university health centers in California do not perform abortions. But state lawmakers are expected to pass a bill in the coming weeks that would require health centers at all 32 state campuses to provide medication abortions. If the bill becomes law, it would be the first of its kind in the nation.
The Horrible Things That Happen to Trans People Going Through Airport Security (Vice, 8/27/19)
"Oftentimes, I have walked through a scanner and the machine picks up the metal in my bra hooks, and then I have to be unnecessarily patted down. It's inefficient, annoying, and invasive. Had I been a victim of physical assault, which many transgender folks are due to the nature of our social status, this would likely be a highly triggering experience." (Ameera, Muslim Youth Council member)
Parents Pressure Schools to Release Sexual Misconduct Complaints and Data
"But Advocates for Youth's Sage Carson, an expert on sexual misconduct nationwide, couldn't think of a city that provides this type of data for K-12 schools. She also cautioned against believing that such data is the panacea. “I think this suggestion would not get to the solution that parents are hoping for,” says Carson, who’s also the manager of Know Your IX. “We should be pushing our schools to do climate surveys as well as train faculty staff and students on sexual misconduct reporting.”
Here's Why the Gag Rule on Abortion Is So Dangerous and Misguided (Self, 8/21/19)
“With the changes in the Title X rules and Planned Parenthood being forced out, anti-abortion and abstinence-only fake health centers will be emboldened to target even more young people, especially those young people who are specifically needing low-cost care,” Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, director of Public Policy at Advocates for Youth, tells SELF.
Here's Why Planned Parenthood's Withdrawal From Title X Is So Troubling (Elite Daily, 8/21/19)
According to Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, director of public policy for Advocates for Youth, some 39.1% — or over 1.5 million people — relying on Title X are under age 25. "This hugely impacts a wide range of folks, including young people, low income folks, and folks of color,” Rhodes tells Elite Daily. "Those who are most marginalized when it comes to accessing health care, and also those who are most marginalized when it comes to health disparities, are often the ones who are accessing Title X clinics and clinics that receive Title X funding." Rhodes is concerned that the absence of major players such as Planned Parenthood will create space for misinformation or inadequate care to spread — and funding that can be redirected to incomplete services. She says that, anecdotally, a lot of the young people who Advocates for Youth work with access their reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. "With the rise of fake health centers ... that are strategically placed near universities and college campuses," she says, "this opens the door to those fake health centers or crisis pregnancy centers to be receiving more Title X dollars — and opening the door for young people to not be receiving the information and services that they need."
When our parents won’t accept us: A letter to the child of a transphobe (Medium, 8/20/19)
"There are a lot of fighters out here, working for a world where parents love and respect their children; where they listen to us, not silence or belittle us. It sounds like you’re a fighter too — you’re fighting for your right to be the gender you are. Keep going. We have your back, your school has your back, and together, we are all going to end the ignorance and transphobia that keeps transgender people from fully living our lives." -Max, Student Organizer
Rise up! (Breaking Through Podcast 8/19/19)
"There’s a tremendous update on a breaking news win; and we also get the inside scoop from Kamilah Tisdale of Advocates for Youth about the important movement to #ProtectTransHealth in a time when the Trump Administration is ridiculously and harmfully rolling back anti-discrimination laws. "
Lawyers: Police posed as queer men during sting operation at Washington, D.C. park (ThinkProgress, 8/16/19)
Preston Mitchum, senior legal and international policy analyst for Advocates for Youth, said people should ask why law enforcement is using public funds to “put queer men at risk” in the criminal justice system. “These queer men are overall entering situations they believe are consensual and that by and large are consensual but for there being a plain-clothes officer who is actually setting up a situation for queer men to succumb to,” he said. “So it isn’t a stretch of the imagination that this is intended to police their behavior … I can see these situations occurring more and more, especially in bigger cities.”
You Should Stream: LGBTQ Youth-Focused Web Series ‘Kikis with Louie’ Features MJ Rodriguez & Others (Remezcla, 8/16/19)
“Unfortunately, we know many LGBTQ young people, especially youth of color, are left in the dark when they ask questions about sex, relationships, and growing up,” said Ortiz-Fonseca. “The goal of the series is to equip LGBTQ young people with information, and make sure they know that they are deserving of safe, happy, and healthy lives.” At a time when the LGBTQ community faces continuous harassment and discrimination, a show like Kikis with Louie is more crucial than ever. The first episode of Kikis with Louie offers a candid conversation about on-screen representation, trans-erasure at the height of the AIDS crisis and the need for sex ed to be LGBTQ-inclusive. Check out the first episode of the series below, starring Pose and Saturday Church star Mj Rodriguez.
What Having “The Talk” With Your Daughter Looks Like in 2019 (O, the Oprah Magazine, 8/1/19)
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 17 is around the age when most young people in the United States have sex for the first time. Therefore, middle school age (before sexual actions may be occurring) is a good time to start talking about safe sex and birth control, says Brittany McBride, MPH, senior program manager of education at Advocates For Youth. ....Be affirmative and honest. “Always, always affirm your young people,” McBride says. “They're trying to make sure that they're normal.” And above all, listen, don't lecture.
Fewer Young People Are Getting Treated For STIs Because Of Stigma, But Here’s How That Can Change (Bustle, 8/1/19)
So why aren’t young people filling their prescriptions for these very treatable STIs, which can cause such serious health problems? Rebecca Thimmesch, a Program Associate at Advocates for Youth, tells Bustle that the whole system around getting a prescription just doesn’t work for many young people. “There’s just a lot of issues with our current system that fill young people with a sense of dread either about getting tested, filling a prescription, or even asking to get tested,” Thimmesch tells Bustle. “So those are big hurdles, particularly for young person who is working in addition to being in school or is from a marginalized community, like young people who are experiencing homeless or young people who are uninsured. There are just a lot of additional factors that make it harder.”
How I Contracted HIV Is None of Your Business (The Body, 7/31/19)
"The disclosure of one's health status is a privilege for some, and depending on what state you live in, can be a legal matter that brings jail time If someone says you didn't disclose. Even if there are no official laws criminalizing HIV non-disclosure, people still face stigma and discrimination that can make it nearly impossible to talk about. Instead of focusing on the policing of marginalized bodies and values, efforts should be directed towards education, increasing access to health care for vulnerable communities, and eliminating problematic beliefs and stereotypes surrounding the HIV virus itself as well as the people living with it." - Toraje Heyward, member of Engaging Communities around HIV Organizing (ECHO).
Clinics Might Have to Destroy Usable Birth Control Thanks to Trump (Vice, 7/30/19)
Debra Hauser, the president of Advocates for Youth, an organization dedicated to improving young people’s sexual health, said she worries that making the Title X funds available to religious organizations gives them the appearance of legitimacy. Obria clinics, for example, offer “abortion pill reversals,” a supposed method for reversing a medication abortion that has no basis in science or medicine. And while abstinence and fertility awareness-based methods can figure into the spectrum of contraceptive options health providers present to patients, Hauser says it’s just that—a spectrum, intended to empower patients to decide for themselves which is right for them. “These organizations use misinformation and stigma to shame people into adhering to their own religious ideology,” Hauser said. “It’s malpractice, frankly.”
July 2019 Shero of the Month: Antoinette Jones (Positive Women's Network)
"Our July 2019 Shero of the Month is Antoinette Jones of Atlanta, Georgia. Jill Heaviside, SisterLove, Inc If/When/How Law & Policy Fellow said, “Antoinette is a force! She is a fierce advocate for both policy reform and intergenerational leadership within HIV advocacy spaces. It’s been incredible to watch Antoinette find and grow into her voice. I am so proud to work with and learn from her and can’t wait to see all the incredible things she’ll accomplish.” Antoinette is a member of Engaging Communities around HIV Organizing (ECHO).
How Trump's latest efforts to stop abortion increasingly undermine global health (OpenCanada, 7/18/19)
“The gag rule doesn’t suddenly get rid of abortion, it gets rid of the ability for women and non-binary folks and other people...to actually undergo safe abortion,” Preston Mitchum, policy analyst at Advocates for Youth, told OpenCanada. “The fear that many of us have…[is that funding] will be shifted to organizations who want to do harm,” he said.
Morehouse College Employee On Leave After Social Media Misconduct (Newsweek, 7/18/19)
Preston Mitchum, senior legal and international policy analyst at Advocates for Youth, told Newsweek the biggest problem students have with reporting sexual misconduct is not being believed. Regardless of the demographics of the victim and perpetrator, Mitchum said it's common for the accused person to be defended and not held accountable. While situations of male survivors coming forward with accusations against male attackers are rare, Mitchum noted that gender or sexuality doesn't change whether a victim's story is doubted because survivors are not believed "full stop." However, when a victim of sexual misconduct is also a minority, a member of the LGBTQ+ community or is in a low socio-economic bracket, it can create a "perfect storm" for the person to not be believed.
Tucson-area reproductive-health program thrives by allowing teens to help teens (Arizona Star, 7/14/19)
"The project came to be because of Joy Baynes, a nurse practitioner with a background in reproductive health who joined El Rio after spending several years working for the Washington, D.C.-based group Advocates for Youth, an initiative that aims to decrease barriers to teens accessing contraception. In October 2016, her former boss at Advocates for Youth reached out to ask if Baynes was interested in writing a grant proposal for Tucson. The idea was if the project was funded, the group would allow young people to design the program based on their expressed desires and needs, Baynes said."
Right-wing media’s tantrum over inclusive sex education (Media Matters, 7/11/19)
When right-wing media and groups talk about sex education, they often fixate on vilifying sex educators and fearmongering about comprehensive and inclusive sexual health programs. Abstinence-only programming promotes fear of same-sex attraction, reinforces gender stereotypes, slut-shames, mandates heterosexual marriage, and neglects to inform youth about the spectrum of contraceptive and reproductive options. We spoke with experts Tyunique Nelson [YouthResource Peer Leader], Lincoln Mondy [Associate Director for Special Projects at Advocates], Dr. Jamila Perritt [Board Chair of Advocates], and Lucinda Holt about how comprehensive sexual health education makes us safer and healthier.
The Affordable Care Act is Back in Court (Ms.,7/9/19)
“Millions have benefited from being eligible for insurance coverage under the ACA, including gaining access to preventive services such as STI screening and contraception,” Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth, said in a statement today. “The 5th Circuit must overturn this decision and uphold medical best practices, common sense and basic human decency.”
Activists, Doctors and Politicians Stand Up in Support of Affordable Care Act (Colorlines, 7/9/19)
Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit that fights for the rights of youth globally, have also stepped into the fight. “It is the height of irresponsibility to rob millions of young people of the health coverage they need. The ACA goes a long way toward affording young people the opportunity to take care of their health and plan their futures. The Fifth Circuit must overturn this decision and uphold medical best practices, common sense, and basic human decency,” Debra Hauser, president of the organization, said in an emailed statement.
Abortion Funds Are the "Radical Social Safety Net" Women Shouldn't Need — but Do (PopSugar, 6/29/19)
For Rusk, sharing her story means helping to lift the immense weight of shame off of the shoulders of others. "I don't really think a lot of good things come from secrecy," she said. A member of WeTestify, a project of Advocates for Youth and National Network of Abortion Funds that "seeks to build the power and leadership of abortion storytellers" by elevating the voices of those who often go unheard, she hopes she's able to reach those feeling most alone. "As a black person, we don't talk about these things a lot," she said. "Sex isn't talked about. The whole idea about a woman's anatomy is so secret." Being visible about her path to abortion could be life-changing for someone who feels like no one in their immediate community understands. "We need to have these conversations," Rusk explained, "because people's lives are at stake."
New Report Spotlights State-Level Divides on Abortion Policy (Public News Service, 7/8/19)
"Danielle Campoamor, an abortion rights advocate with the 1 in 3 Campaign, says these kinds of skirmishes have a ripple effect across the country. "It's very easy for people to just blame the states,” she states. “Like what we've been watching going on in Alabama, for example: 'Oh, this is an Alabama problem.' Well, that's not true. This is a countrywide program. You're just lucky if you happen to live in a state that is expanding access instead of restricting it."
The legacy of Stonewall: 'Where Pride began' (NBC, 6/28/19)
Episode 4, Part 1 of this documentary features Urooj Arshad, Director of International LGBTQ Youth Health and Rights Programs, and Khadija Khan, Muslim and International Youth Leadership Coordinator.
This National HIV Testing Day, We Must Do More Than Just Tell Young People to Get Tested (The Body, 6/27/19)
National HIV Testing Day is a day to encourage people to get tested for HIV, know their status, and get linked to care and treatment. However, as we observe the 24th annual National HIV Testing Day, it's not enough to simply tell people to get tested. Conversations around HIV have become more normalized thanks to the work of HIV activists and storylines in shows like Empire and POSE. But more needs to be done offscreen by health care providers to ensure that young people, especially LGBTQ youth of color, feel empowered to get tested and have access to additional services, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the daily HIV prevention pill, after their results. - Armonte Butler, LGBTQ Health and Rights Manager
OpEd: National HIV Testing Day Sparks Debate On What ‘Pride’ Means For Black LGBTQ People (BET, 6/27/19)
"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2018, 26 states had laws that criminalize HIV exposure, many where there is no chance of actual transmission. HIV-criminalization laws largely refer to the overbroad use of criminal laws to penalize perceived or potential HIV exposure; alleged nondisclosure of a person who is knowingly living with HIV prior to sexual contact; or unintentional HIV transmission. These outdated laws disproportionately affect already marginalized people — many who we want to get tested on days like today." - Preston Mitchum, Senior Policy Analyst)
This Is What Sex Ed Looks Like Across the Country (Esquire, 6/24/19)
"The CDC isn't the only organization recommending more sex ed than kids get. In 2007, researcher Doug Kirby identified 17 characteristics of sex ed programs that were shown to be effective in preventing STIs and unintended pregnancy. That list includes a curriculum with clear health goals (like preventing pregnancy) with a narrow focus on the behavior (like using contraception) that could lead to that goal. Comprehensive sex education programs like the 3Rs curriculum created by Advocates for Youth aim to incorporate all of these methods. Most sex education programs in U.S. schools do not."
Abortion 'Gag Rule' Goes Into Effect (Colorlines, 6/21/19)
“The Ninth Circuit Court has joined the war on young people, people of color, low-income families and all those who need quality reproductive health care with Thursday’s decision to allow the Trump administration’s Title X Gag Rule to take effect,” said Deb Hauser, president, and Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, director of public policy, at Advocates for Youth, said in an emailed statement.
This 18-year-old gave a moving testimony about the barriers she faced to receive an abortion (Women's Media Center, 6/18/19)
On June 4, the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on “Threats to Reproductive Rights in America.” Eighteen-year-old Youth Testify leader HK Gray testified at the hearing about the barriers she faced when seeking an abortion in Texas as a minor, including needing a judicial bypass to obtain an abortion. "My name is HK Gray. I am 18 years old and I came here today all the way from Fort Worth, Texas. I am an activist with Youth Testify, a leadership program through Advocates for Youth and the National Network of Abortion Funds. It is an honor to be able to speak before you today."
Pulse: Web series ‘Kikis With Louie’ salutes Orlando activists, Dru Project
During Pride Month, Orlando-based LGBTQ+ activists are being saluted by the YouTube series “Kikis With Louie.” On Thursday, the series released an interview with Neil Rios of the Dru Project, an Orlando group that supports high school gay-straight alliance organizations. The group honors Drew Leinonen, who was among the 49 murdered in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
#Pride50: Urooj Arshad — Muslim LGBTQ advocate (NBC News, 6/5/19)
“Pride to me means a celebration of resistance and taking over the streets and just having a good time, but also honoring all of the work that our ancestors did to get us to be where we are.”
#PRIDE50 #Pride50: Venkayla Haynes — sexual assault survivor advocate (NBC News, 6/4/19)
Haynes, who lives in Atlanta, has contributed tirelessly to a number of organizations that advocate for sexual assault survivors and prevention, including the Biden Foundation, NOMORE, ItsOnUs and Know Your IX. She’s organized events, spoken before audiences, met with college campus officials and educated college students about their rights under Title IX, which protects people from sex discrimination in "education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance." And she has personally advocated for over 60 sexual assault survivors across the United States, many of them LGBTQ people of color — connecting them with support networks, mental health counseling, housing and financial assistance.
Busy Philipps Testified About Getting An Abortion At 15 In Response To Bans Sweeping The Nation
"Right now, according to the Guttermacher Institute, 37 states require some form of parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion. And if parental consent can't be obtained, not only is a "judicial bypass" necessary, but a judge has to deem if the minor is mature enough and they would have to attend state mandated counseling and sit through a cooling-off period, according to Advocates for Youth. And in some states, like Texas, a minor can't even get birth control without parental consent, according to Planned Parenthood."
Challenging the lack of openness around taboo subjects impacting our health and wellbeing (Mobi Health News, 6/5/19)
"AMAZE doesn’t exist to circumvent public sex ed, or parents’ relationships with their children - our resources are simply created to foster conversations and education that should continue throughout schools, homes, and medical offices," Lincoln Mondy, senior manager for strategic partnerships at Advocates for Youth, tells MobiHealthNews.
5 Ways You Can Support Women in the American States Facing Abortion Bans (The Independent UK, 6/1/19)
Campaigns such as the 1 in 3 Campaign are dedicated to normalising conversations around abortions, while actress and talk show host Busy Philipps recently asked women to share their abortion stories with the Twitter hashtag #youknowme.
Sex education legislation offers young people information and access they deserve (The Hill, 5/26/19)
"Sex Ed for All Month also makes up part of our collective effort to help young people in marginalized populations — including communities of color, LGBTQ young people, immigrants, those with lower incomes, those living in rural areas and those in foster care — gain access to the information and care they need. We are proud to stand alongside our sister organizations, which include Advocates for Youth, Healthy Teen Network, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) in this effort."
Attacks on Roe v. Wade aren't new—so why does this time feel so much worse? (Hello Giggles, 5/24/19)
To put it simply, these attacks on abortion access feel different and overwhelming because we are seeing the result of a years-long plan by the anti-choice movement to disempower Roe through state legislation. Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes is the Director of Public Policy at Advocates for Youth, an organization focused on protecting youth sexual health and youth rights, and she breaks it down for HelloGiggles: “These bills are no longer chipping away at the right to abortion—they’re outright banning abortion. We’ve been seeing abortion restrictions move through legislatures and sometimes pass at the state level for a number of years. Since 2011, we’ve seen a definite increase.”
A Sexual Assault Survivor At Princeton Tried To Protest. Instead, She Was Fined $2,700. (Huffington Post, 5/16/19)
Sage Carson, manager for anti-sexual violence organization Know Your IX, said the penalty was “surprisingly harsh” since the student was a sexual assault survivor and was protesting the administration’s Title IX ruling. “Not only did Princeton not find [the accused] responsible, they also implemented this extremely harsh sanction in response to her speaking out about her case,” Carson said. “This says to her that if you talk to people about how the school handled your case ― we are going to retaliate against you.”
How to Help Women in States Banning Abortion (GQ, 5/16/19)
"Share your own story. Statistically, one in every three American women will have an abortion in her lifetime. It's easier for anti-abortion activists to claim they have public support as long as the procedure is considered uncommon, unnecessary, and shameful. Organizations like Shout Your Abortion and the 1 in 3 Campaign are dedicated to fighting that stigma by giving women and men platforms to talk about how abortion has directly affected their lives."
5 Reasons It’s Time to Freak the F*ck Out About Abortion (Cosmopolitan, 5/14/19)
"“These bills do not represent a chipping away of abortion access. They are not enacting waiting periods,” says Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth. “They are endangering lives and threatening draconian tactics to force us to carry our pregnancies to term, against our will, regardless of our personal circumstances or viability of the fetus.”
It’s #FreeThePill day, a day of activism to make birth control available without prescription (CNN, 5/9/19)
"Young people face a lot of barriers to getting the health care they need and getting contraceptives over the counter is one way to tackle that," says Rebecca Thimmesch from the sexual health non-profit, Advocates for Youth. "It also allows for a confidentiality and allows young people to have agency and autonomy over their reproductive health."
05/12/2019 08:00 am ET First They Told Their Stories. Now They Want Their Money. (Huffington Post, 5/10/19)
“Title IX investigations should typically last around 60 days,” Sage Carson, manager at the advocacy group Know Your IX, told HuffPost. “Under the [Obama] administration’s Title IX guidance, which was in place during [Mila’s] investigation, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights said schools should be taking about 60 calendar days to investigate a case following the receipt of a complaint,” she said. “When schools force survivors through unnecessarily lengthy and traumatizing investigations survivors often drop out of the investigation, or out of school entirely. No one should be put through a lengthy investigation that disrupts their education.”
How YouTubers Could Save Sex Ed (OneZero, 5/1/19)
"Earlier this year, Amaze.org — a youth sex ed project jointly created by nonprofits Answer, Advocates for Youth, and Youth Tech Health — launched Amaze Jr., a resource full of age-appropriate videos for kids ages four to nine to watch with their parents (as well as some videos for parents to watch alone). Though it’s not quite as boundary-pushing as Queer Kid Stuff, which tackles topics like transitioning and asexuality, Amaze Jr. is still far more expansive than what many of us remember from our own youth sex ed, addressing subjects like consent and gender identity."
Sex Education Bills Fight Back Against Trump's Abstinence-Only Plans (Teen Vogue, 5/1/19)
The introduction of the bills coincides with the start of Sex Ed for All month, in concert with a nationwide initiative pushing for comprehensive and inclusive sex ed among several advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth, Power to Decide, Healthy Teen Network, the Guttmacher Institute, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).
Abortion In The Third Trimester: A Rare Decision Now In The Political Spotlight (NPR, 4/30/19)
"That was true for Beth Vial, a college student from Portland, Ore., who didn't learn she was pregnant until she was about 26 weeks along, in the summer of 2017. "I just [burst] out crying. I didn't believe them because I was told that wasn't a possibility for me," she said. Vial has some health issues — including a condition that disrupts her menstrual cycles — which can make conception unlikely and a pregnancy harder to diagnose. Doctors in Portland told her she was too far along for an abortion there." - Beth, Youth Testify storyteller
‘A Coordinated Backlash’: Anti-Choice Protests Explode as State Lawmakers Protect Abortion Rights (Rewire, 4/22/19)
This has been a topic of discussion and concern among youth in Atlanta, said Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, director of public policy at Advocates for Youth, a group advocating for reproductive health and access. “This conversation is definitely happening among young people,” she said. “The barriers that adult women face—waiting periods, parental consent, TRAP laws—all impact young people and are exacerbated when young people face barriers to abortion care.”
Abortion AMA: What is a "Late Term" abortion? (Bustle, 4/22/19)
"Beth says she faced intense scrutiny, judgement, and shame for her decision to terminate her pregnancy: shame no-doubt perpetuated by the large swaths of misinformation surrounding abortions that occur later on in pregnancy. "I had everybody telling me that I was making the wrong choice. That I was a bad person for making that choice," she says. "And I didn’t feel like a bad person. I felt like I was scared. I felt like the situation was stacked against me. I felt like I needed to move quickly and everyone else was in my way." - Beth, Youth Testify Storyteller
At 17, I Had to Go to Court to Fight For My Abortion (PopSugar, 4/15/19)
"When I was 17, I found out I was pregnant. I knew immediately that I needed to have an abortion. I had just gotten into the University of Texas at San Antonio and was ready to change cities and start working toward a career in electrical engineering. I knew I definitely wasn't ready to start a family. But in Texas, the law said I needed my parents' permission to have an abortion." - an op-ed by Youth Testify Storyteller Veronika
HIV-Positive Youth Activists Discuss How They’re Fighting Stigma and Enacting Change (WaxOh, 4/12/19)
Young people living with HIV face immense legal and cultural discrimination, and too often are unable to get the resources they need. To combat this, Advocates for Youth launched ECHO — Engaging Communities around HIV Organizing — a council of youth activists living with HIV who are organizing online and in their communities. The first of its kind, the intention of the group is to decriminalize HIV and combat stigma.
Using Sign Language, New Video Promotes HIV Testing for Youth of All Abilities (The Body, 4/12/19)
Following up on National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the newest episode of Kikis with Louie, a groundbreaking LGBTQ video series produced by the nonprofit organization Advocates for Youth, features an instructional video on how and where to easily get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. And the video is presented in American Sign Language to ensure that deaf viewers also have access to the critical information.
HIV Testing Basics—Presented in American Sign Language (Poz, 4/12/19)
"It’s important to understand why you should get tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections—and to know where you can get those tests. Such information is vital to a person’s health, and it should be made available to everyone. To that end, the team at Kikis with Louie, a popular YouTube series geared toward LGBT youth of color, created a short episode titled “How to #GetTested (ASL)”—and it’s presented in American Sign Language (and subtitles). You can watch the two-minute episode above."
Florida Is Making It Even Harder for Young People to Get Abortions—Just Like Dozens of Other States (Rewire, 4/10/19)
Lucy told Rewire.News that before she had her abortion, she was denied access both to birth control and Plan B. Her family is conservative and lives thousands of miles away. Because of her state laws, a judicial bypass was her only option; she says she spent days studying so she could plead her case to a judge for what was like an “interview to get health care.” Lucy, whose name has been changed, finds that people are unaware of parental involvement laws when she tells her story through the Youth Testify abortion storytelling project.
What These 4 Young People Want You to Know About HIV (Teen Vogue, 4/10/19)
To help break down the stigma surrounding HIV and help young people get educated, Teen Vogue spoke with four young people living with HIV about what they want their peers to know. For these young people, advocacy goes well beyond one awareness day — they're all part of Advocates for Youth's Engaging Communities around HIV Organizing (ECHO), a program dedicated to lifting up the voices of young people living with HIV to prompt a shift in culture and policy.
School Sex Ed Is Awful — That Disproportionately Harms LGBTQ Youth (Out, 4/10/19)
"People tend to have a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to comprehensive sexual health education, discussions about access to condoms, and prevention methods such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-daily pill regimen that can help a person remain HIV-negative. Young people are often infantilized and denied proper, life-saving information because it goes against the supposed morals of their parent or medical provider. But a variety of statistics continue to remind us of the need to center and support young people, especially LGBTQ+ youth." (Op-ed by Jamanii, Youth Resource Peer Leader)
Louie Ortiz-Fonseca Builds Digital Bridges Between Youth and the Not-So-Young (The Body, 4/10/19)
"I never imagined that I'd be a mentor, or that I'd be this adult that people came to and asked for ideas or expertise. But I've had some great mentors. And I think that is what I use when I'm around young people. I'm listening as much, or even less, as I'm talking. I'm asking questions that center their voices in a way that's honest, affirming, and celebratory, and that doesn't compare their experience to what we experienced in the past -- unless that's asked of me. If they ask, then I will provide that. But it's just to listen to what is, as it is, and how they present it. That's good enough, because I trust young people."
This Free Coloring Book Teaches Kids The Real Names Of Their Body Parts (Scary Mommy, 4/9/19)
Sex education should begin when kids are younger than you might think – but most children won’t get any sort of early sex ed in public school before the age of ten, and sometimes much later than that. That means teaching issues like the correct names of body parts, bodily autonomy, and consent are all up to you, and that can be a daunting feeling. Thankfully, the non-profit sex education organization Amaze has dropped a new coloring book for kids four and up that is perfect for starting the conversations you need to have with your pre-schoolers and kindergarteners.
This Free Coloring Book Helps Kids Learn the Correct Names of Their Body Parts (Offspring, 4/8/19)
Amaze, a great resource for “taking the awkward out of sex ed,” has released a free, downloadable coloring book that includes a page illustrating the body parts of boys and girls. It’s a simple way to introduce the anatomically correct names to a young child—I mean, who doesn’t love to color? You might use it in tandem with conversations with your kid about sex, consent and pleasure.
Missouri Lawmakers Look to Codify the Idea That ‘Survivors Lie’ (4/5/19)
“When looking at this we can’t just see the proposed rules but also how the administration came out and attacked Dr. [Christine] Blasey Ford after she spoke out against [then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett] Kavanaugh. How the administration is working to silence survivors that seek amnesty,” said Sage Carson, manager of Advocates for Youth’s Know Your IX, a program that works with survivors and students to bolster their legal rights. "The Trump administration has “created an entire environment where women are disbelieved. When we create a national platform for folks to dismiss women—a community that says that women are liars—I am not surprised that we see states adopting bills that are reflective of this ideology,” Carson said.
LGBTQ Update: Youth advocates hold Week of Action (Bay Area Reporter, 4/2/19)
"In recognition of National LGBT Health Awareness Week, Advocates for Youth held a Week of Action March 25-29. The national organization, based in Washington, D.C., was one of hundreds of groups across the country that partnered with the National Coalition for LGBT Health to bring awareness to the 17th year of the event."
It’s Hard Enough For Student Sexual Assault Survivors. Missouri Lawmakers Are Trying to Make it Even Worse. (Mother Jones, 4/1/19)
“These bills would prove devastating to survivors, and drastically decrease the number of survivors coming forward,” Sage Carson of Know Your IX said in a statement. The organization’s website states that the bills rely on a “stereotype that victims of sex discrimination, including sexual assault, are inherently less credible” than those who report other types of student misconduct.
New Youtube Series Focuses on Issues Affecting LGBTQ Youth of Color (HipLatina, 3/29/19)
The advent of social media has given a platform for marginalized communities but the openness found online doesn’t necessarily transfer to the real world and this newly launched Youtube series aims to bridge the gap. For LGBTQ youth of color, conversations surrounding sexuality and acceptance remain difficult and Director of LGBTQ Health and Rights at Advocates of Youth, Louie Ortiz-Fonseca is helping confront the stigma with Kikis with Louie. The series is a collaboration between Advocates For Youth, an organization that promotes sexual health programs and the MAC AIDS Fund. The title comes from the popular queer term” kiki” which is a shame-free conversation about life. “While it was pretty scary for me at first, what helped to ground me was the young people who generously shared their hearts and stories as part of the project,” he tells HipLatina. That is what I love the most about Kikis, LGBTQ Youth are recording their history by sharing their stories.”
Sex ed video for teens shatters myths about sexuality and disability (Mashable, 3/28/19)
"Sex ed in the U.S. is often a hot mess. Teens regularly get medically inaccurate information, learn solely about abstinence, and hear only bad things about LGBTQ identity and sexuality. Young people with disabilities can feel particularly invisible in classroom sex ed lessons, since the content typically doesn't reflect their experience. Meanwhile, some teens may assume their peers with disabilities have no interest in sex or sexuality at all. This new video from AMAZE, a YouTube sex ed series for adolescents and teens, takes on and then shatters the stereotypes and misconceptions about disability and sexuality."
Doctors Aren't Offering Young People PrEP. That Has to Change. (The Body, 3/28/19)
"This LGBT Health Awareness Week, March 25-29, I'm asking everyone to take the steps they can to ensure young people have access to PrEP. In hospital and clinic settings, sexually transmitted infection screenings have to go beyond the standard of offering condoms, lubrication, and dental dams after a person is tested. Information about PrEP and post-exposure prophylaxis should be publicly promoted in health care environments and spaces that LGBTQ youth, people that identify as nonbinary, and black cis and transgender women occupy. Sex education needs to be honest and comprehensive, and it needs to address real solutions and skills. And young people ourselves need to take the initiative and ask our health care providers about PrEP." - Tyunique, YouthResource Peer Leader
Christ was there for me during my abortion (Bitch, 3/25/19)
"It’s been 46 years since Roe v. Wade was decided, but its promise is not yet here for everyone. Too many people still can’t afford their procedures or have to travel out of state for them; others must undergo unnecessary procedures that do little but add to their financial burdens. There’s no justice yet. But I am here to say that young people like me are sharing our stories to change the conversation. When I tell mine, I never forget to mention faith, because everything we do inevitably requires us to trust someone." - Youth Testify storyteller Co
UNCA should implement safer sex material dispensers on campus (Blue Banner, 3/24/19)
"Sometimes you need a barrier for something sexy after the Health & Counseling Center closes at 4:30 p.m. on weekdays or all day for the weekend. Or, perhaps you might not want to trek to the Health & Counseling Center, which to most on campus students feels like a hike, similarly to the nearest CVS where a pack of 12 external condoms costs about $10. Everyone at UNCA should have access to safer sex materials, along with proper education on how to use and store them." - Yen, Great American Condom Campaign SafeSite
Here’s how Brown University is tackling toxic masculinity (3/13/19)
“Parents, faculty, staff, and administrators have a really hard time accepting that young people can cause each other harm and especially sexual harm,” said Sage Carson of Know Your IX, an advocacy group for survivors of sexual violence. “There are really high rates of violence happening in high schools and middle schools and there should be prevention education happening.”
Three Men Have Been “Cured” of HIV—But Is the Method Worth the Hype? (NewNowNext, 3/11/18)
“I try to absorb and process these kinds of medical ‘breakthroughs’ with careful trepidation,” Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, director of LGBTQ health and rights, and founder of ECHO (Engaging Communities Around HIV Organizing) at Advocates for Youth, tells NewNowNext. “We’ve always heard we’re on the brink of a cure. What does that do for the psyche of people living with HIV? Sometimes, it feels like there’s this carrot that we’re chasing, but will never be able to touch. While it does provide a kind of hope, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what we are experiencing or dealing with on a daily basis changes.”
Sexism and Sexual Violence in Campus Tech Groups (Inside Higher Ed, 3/8/19)
"The allegations did not surprise Alyssa Peterson, a state organizer with advocacy group Know Your IX, a reference to the federal gender antidiscrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. With male-centric groups, women are often the target of sexual harassment or more, Peterson said. Title IX means to prevent such clubs from altogether excluding women, but it also can be triggered if a male member raped a woman who would likely want to leave the organization, Peterson said. In that way, women -- who are already marginalized in the tech world -- could be pushed out further, she said."
How generations born after Roe v. Wade are leading the country’s abortion debate (USA Today, 3/5/19)
Julia Reticker-Flynn, 33, is the director of youth organizing and mobilization at Advocates for Youth and works with the group’s “1 in 3 Campaign,” which has over 1,300 published testimonies from women who shared why they did not regret their decisions to have an abortion. Reticker-Flynn said young people recognize that the Trump administration’s actions, such as his call for late-term abortion legislation, do not reflect science and the experiences of people seeking an abortion. “Young people are passionate about supporting their communities,” Reticker-Flynn said. “Abortion access is a part of that effort to ensure that young people can be able to live freely and support their peers in their community.”
This Gender-Inclusive Puberty Education Guide Should Be Used By Every Sex-Ed Teacher (Romper, 3/5/19)
"Done well, sex education can create a foundation for sexual health throughout someone's lifetime," Nora Gelperin, director of sexuality education and training at Advocates for Youth, said in a news release. "Transgender young people have the right to lead healthy lives, and they need and have the right to puberty education that addresses their needs and answers their questions."
Women Are Using Their Personal Stories To Fight Abortion Stigma - And It's Working (NationSwell, 3/5/19)
Angie Marie Luna is part of a rising chorus of voices embracing one of humankind’s oldest art forms — storytelling — as a tool to strip away the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion. Luna works as an ambassador for Youth Testify, an offshoot of the storytelling projects We Testify and the 1 in 3 Campaign. The program trains young people who have had abortions on how to effectively share their stories with lawmakers, the media and their own peers. The goal is to humanize a procedure that is often demonized by encouraging empathy over judgment; by raising awareness around issues of reproductive access; and ultimately, by impacting policy.
Kikis With Louie: fighting a stigma (Beyond Borders, 3/4/19)
“Some of us don’t have a physical space to convene. Some of us don’t have the luxury of going to a weekly group to find folx who are like-minded and who look and sound like us where we can talk about our experiences as queer people outside of just coming out,” Fonseca said. “A lot of the popular narrative around LGBTQ youth is around bullying or coming out. While those experiences are important, we understand to be black and brown or even undocumented as a queer person there are other things we are still managing. Coming out isn’t just letting people know we’re gay or queer. It’s about coming out as HIV positive or as a person with a parent who is struggling with addiction. It’s about coming out as undocumented; it’s about coming out for several reasons.”
They had abortions late in their pregnancies. These are their stories. (2/25/19)
Women who've had abortions later in their pregnancies are "bonded in a sisterhood through a club nobody ever wanted to be a part of," one woman said. (Featuring storytellers from the 1 in 3 Campaign)
As Colorado Moves to Bar Abstinence-Only Sex Education, Teenagers Take the Lead (New York Times, 2/21/19)
"Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit sexual health organization in Washington, D.C., whose comprehensive sex education curriculum is used widely in California, said the backlash in Colorado fits a pattern of coordinated misinformation campaigns that are used to stoke fear and are promoted on social media. Ms. Hauser said she has been pleased to see teenagers and young adults mobilizing their communities on behalf of comprehensive sex education. “They want to take it into their own hands,” she said."
Building More LGBTQ-Inclusive Sex Education for Students (Jezebel, 2/15/19)
"The Los Angeles Unified School District, of which Taft High School is part of, is one of at least 50 school districts across the country that has adopted aspects of curriculum from Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit that promotes inclusive sexual health information. The curriculum reaches an estimated 2.5 million young people, according to president Debra Hauser, who considers it a human right. “They need to see themselves reflected,” she said."
Teaching Sex in the Digital Age (Media on the Hill, 2/15/19)
The growing application of technology in the sexual education field is a product of people’s desire for instant answers but, more importantly, says Nora Gelperin, director of sexuality education and training at Advocates for Youth, it is a product of failed in-classroom sex education in U.S. schools. “Young people deserve to know about their bodies, to know how to have healthy relationships and know that their sexuality is normal,” she said. “If they’re not going to get this at school, and we know parents struggle with what and when to say something, then we should present an alternative.
Activist Urooj Arshad Wrote A Valentine’s Day Love Letter To Her Young, Queer, Muslim, Immigrant Self (Bustle, 2/14/19)
"I want to tell her that despite everything that she will have to endure, she will find her community of LGBTQ Muslims and people of color who will show her that it’s possible to collectively fight for a just world. In 2019, against the backdrop of bigotry, she will see her own experience and identities represented in new and powerful ways."
Education Department allows extra day for comments on Title IX rules (2/14/19)
“It was unacceptable that on the final day of the comment period, students, survivors of sexual violence and their families were unable to voice how the proposed changes would impact them,” said Sage Carson, manager of the Know Your IX campaign, a project of the advocacy group Advocates for Youth. Davidson and Carson said the administration did too little to listen to survivors of sexual violence and said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should rescind the regulation.
How Janelle Monáe's Style Allowed Me To Express My True Identity (2/10/19)
"I’d never seen someone with my same complexion defy stereotypical feminine beauty standards in their gender presentation. Having Monáe as a role model made my own experiences experimenting with gender presentation that much easier. I’d get questions like, “do you want to be a boy?,” “are you gay?” and “why don’t you dress more like a girl?” To those questions I was able to respond, “I want to look like Janelle Monáe,” and that was acceptable.That was something people around me could understand." writes Ose Arheghan, Student Organizer and a member of Advocates for Youth's Board of Directors
What It Was Like to Get a Later Abortion (Teen Vogue, 2/8/19)
"Anti-abortion advocates have been intentionally misleading the public about the policies and misrepresenting what later abortion is and why people have them. I know because I had an abortion at 28 weeks." Beth, a leader with Youth Testify, shares her story of abortion later in pregnancy.
The case for starting sex-ed conversations with kids at age four (Quartz, 2/7/19)
"Sex is among the hardest topics for parents to broach with teenagers. That’s why a new campaign, featuring cartoons aimed at both parents and kids, encourages families to start the conversation much earlier—even as young as age four."
Group of young adults demanding to be heard in Las Vegas (KTNV, 2/4/19)
A youth coalition group in Las Vegas is demanding their voices to be heard as the Nevada state legislative session begins Monday to make their Nevada dreams come true. For the first time in Nevada, teenagers and young adults in Las Vegas formed a group to get a new generation of leaders to sign up for their policy platform. Courtney Jones and Alexander Kostan, leaders with Nevada Youth Activist Alliance in Las Vegas, said there is power in people's voices. "I know that a lot of our passion comes from just struggling in this country," Jones said.
Fake Health Clinics Are Tricking College Students (Cosmopolitan, 2/1/19)
"Flourishing under the full support of the Trump administration, not to mention more cash from state governments, CPCs now out-number actual abortion clinics by a ratio of more than 3 to 1. “CPCs have been empowered and given a space to thrive,” says Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, the director of public policy for Advocates for Youth. No surprise that their tactics are getting bolder—and increasingly, they’re aimed at vulnerable college students. Here’s what you should watch out for."
Trump Administration Gets An Earful On New Campus Sexual Assault Rules (NPR, 1/30/19)
At a recent meeting of the Boston University Students For Reproductive Freedom club, Sage Carson with the survivor advocacy group, Know Your IX joined in by video conference, updating students on what the proposals would do. "I'll be blunt," she says, "It's devastating." She tells the students the proposed rules would mean schools don't automatically have to investigate incidents alleged to have occurred in private, off-campus apartments, or misconduct that is reported to a coach or resident advisor, for example, instead of the official Title IX officer.
The APA’s Guidelines For The Psychological Practice With Boy & Men Acknowledge The Impact Of Toxic Masculinity (Bustle, 1/29/19)
Brittany McBride, Advocate for Youth’s Senior Program Manager for Sexuality Education, says that the conversation about the ways “traditional masculinity” can have a negative impact on boys and men are long overdue. “These guideline are not new to us who are working in sexual education,” McBride tells Bustle. “For me, personally, reading these guidelines, I was like ‘We’re doing this already!’” So how can men and boys be helped? McBride believes that comprehensive sex education is an excellent entry point for reaching a population that doesn’t seek mental health treatment elsewhere. She points to Advocates For Youth’s own sex education program as an example of how sex education can help undo some of the negative effects of traditional ideas about masculinity — or even prevent them altogether.
Young People Who Want Abortions Need More Than Roe v. Wade (Teen Vogue, 1/22/19)
In this op-ed, HK Gray, a leader with Youth Testify, a collaborative program for people who've had abortions of Advocates for Youth's 1 in 3 Campaign and National Network of Abortion Funds' We Testify, explains how states have complicated access to abortion, particularly for people under 18.
Sex education fails teens by ignoring sexting (Mashable, 1/19)
“It can’t be comprehensive sex education if we’re not talking about what’s relevant to our young people, and sexting is a big part of that,” says Brittany McBride, a senior program manager for sexuality education at Advocates for Youth, which partners with schools to provide sex education.
Reggie Bullock’s Tattoo Became A Teachable Moment On His LGBTQ Advocacy Journey (Huffington Post, 1/17/19)
In a new interview for the Advocates for Youth video series “Kikis With Louie,” Bullock recalled how one of his tattoos became a teachable moment as he educated himself on trans issues. Shortly after Henderson’s death, he got a tattoo in her honor, but used the name his sister had used prior to her transition. It wasn’t until after the tattoo had been completed, he said, that he understood he’d made a grievous error. “I wasn’t educated enough ― that’s pretty much dead-naming her,” Bullock, who eventually rectified the mistake with a second tattoo, told host Louie Ortiz-Fonseca. “This was the person I thought I knew and the life she lived when it actually wasn’t. She wanted to be recognized as Mia Henderson, which was her street name that she picked up, and that was the real life that she was living.”