The latest stories featuring youth activists and staff
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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.”