The latest stories featuring youth activists and staff
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Sex ed conversations you need to have with your tween or teen
"Sex ed needs to be honest and accurate and give young people the information and support they need to live the lives they deserve. These are life skills. We can't expect them to become adults with an incomplete toolbox. We need to give them the information before they need it," said Brittany McBride of Advocates for Youth.
Latest ‘menstrual equity’ bill would require California’s public colleges to provide period products
University of California Davis senior and Advocates for Youth activist Audin Leung has spent their entire college career championing a novel concept — free period products throughout campuses. “People are surprised, or they think it’s a radical idea, but it’s not a very radical idea because it’s a basic need,” Leung said.
How US Sex Ed in Public Schools Harms LGBTQ Students
Read about the importance of LGBTQ inclusive and affirming sex ed with quotes from staff members Armonté Butler, Kinjo Kiema, Brittany McBride, Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes and Youth Resource member Jaden!
The importance of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights to the global HIV response (UN AIDS)
“A lot of young people are experiencing sexual encounters they don’t understand because someone else is introducing it to them,” said Ponny White, a sexual and reproductive health and rights activist with Advocates for Youth. “We want to equip young people with tools and education so they can be autonomous and living a fulfilling life.”
Lhamon Nominated for Top Civil Rights Post (Inside Higher Ed)
“(Lhamon's) extensive background in civil rights and focus on young folks’ rights is really exciting to us after four years of a Department of Education that was really focused on prioritizing schools and school liability over student civil rights,” Carson said. “We hope that her return to the department will also bring about a return to a focus on protecting students from discrimination and harassment," said Sage Carson, the manager of Know Your IX, a group that advocates for the end of sexual and dating violence in educational settings.
Jaslin Kaur Is Running for City Council to Fight for Sexual Misconduct Survivors (Teen Vogue)
"If my years working with campus survivor-justice organization Know Your IX taught me anything, it’s that gender justice is incompatible with our hierarchical, punitive, political-economic system," says Know Your IX activist Jaslin Kaur.
How to Get Tested for STIs During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Healthline)
“On the other hand, researchTrusted Source has shown that one in eight PrEP-eligible people live in ‘PrEP deserts,’ or at least a 30-minute drive from a clinic where they can access PrEP,” said Lincoln Mondy, the associate director of strategic projects at Advocates for Youth.
Why activists are urging the Biden administration to tear down part of Betsy DeVos' legacy (AlterNet)
Activist Sage Carson, manager of the group Know Your IX, told NBC News, "Student survivors need immediate action on Title IX. What seems like just a few months to non-students is an entire semester for a student. Survivors can't spend another semester, let alone another four years, with the current status of the Title IX regulation."
Raising HIV Awareness Among Young People (POZ)
“What we really need right now is targeted or prioritized outreach campaigns that are really educating folks about PrEP,” said Armonté Butler, senior program manager of LGBTQ health and rights at Advocates for Youth. “But also making sure that sex education includes information about PrEP.”
Pandemic adds hurdles for sexually transmitted disease reduction (Roll Call)
Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, vice president of policy, partnerships and organizing at Advocates for Youth, said advocates hope the upcoming White House budget will serve as a signal for Congress and will not include funding for abstinence-only programs but will include more funds for comprehensive sexual education. “There’s urgent work to be done when it comes to access to care, as well as access to comprehensive sex ed, especially given ... the COVID-19 crisis and virtual learning,” she said.
8 Myths Schools Teach About Puberty That You May Need To Unteach At Home (HuffPost)
“If schools are teaching quality sex education that adheres to the National Sex Education Standards, then students should receive complete, accurate and inclusive information about puberty. However, state health education standards and school districts differ across the country, including many that have no requirement to teach puberty,” said Brittany McBride, associate director for sex education at Advocates for Youth.
What Sexual Assault Survivors Want President Biden to Change About Title IX (Teen Vogue)
In this letter, 278 students and survivors, including activists from Know Your IX, communicate to the Biden administration the changes it can make to Title IX to better protect young people.
Biden Will Revisit Trump Rules on Campus Sexual Assault (New York Times)
“We’re really seeing it used as a way for schools to confuse and manipulate survivors, which is really what we’ve seen for decades,” Sage Carson, the manager of Know Your IX, said of the DeVos rules. “Now it’s this really scary process on the books, and it gives the schools a way to say, ‘Do you really want to go through this?’”
Rethinking Title IX (Inside Higher Ed)
Further complicating matters is that things have changed since the Obama administration issued its rules. “It’s not as simple as, ‘put the 2011 rules back on the books and call it good,’” said Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX.
Betsy DeVos’s sexual assault rules have already hurt survivors (Vox)
An already difficult situation was made worse by the fact that some schools didn’t clearly inform students and other community members of the new rule or of their policy changes to address it. “Some schools were very forthcoming about their change in policies,” Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX, a project combating sexual violence at schools and on college campuses, told Vox. But there were “also a lot of schools that just tried to kind of silently kind of slide them in.”
As the Pandemic Raged, Abortion Access Nearly Flickered Out. (The Nation)
She felt clear about her decision to have an abortion. But her path was full of obstacles sown by the collision of the pandemic and state laws designed to make having an abortion as prolonged and difficult as possible. After finding the door locked, Lee called the clinic from the parking lot. The next available appointment was a month and a half away, she was informed. A clinic escort told her the doctor Lee was supposed to see that day was sick. The country was in chaos. “I went home, broke down, and cried,” said Larada Lee, Abortion Out Loud Youth Activist.
DeVos Quit Over This Week’s Violence. Sexual Assault Survivor Activists Aren’t Having Any of It. (Mother Jones)
“It seems laughable in the darkest way that DeVos resigned from the Trump administration because the violence was too much when she has used her role in the Department of Education to continuously commit violence against students, to make schools less safe,” said Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX.
This activist is a beacon of hope for reproductive justice in the South (Mashable)
"If you want to be an activist, it's all about collective organizing ... you can't "do" activism without people who are going to hold you accountable," said LaKia Williams, member of our Young Womxn of Color for Reproductive Justice Collective.
Elliot Page and Why Centering Trans Youth of Color is Important (Blavity)
Khouri Lassiter from our Youth Resource Council writes: "The media focus on Elliot also has the unfortunate effect of yet again centering the conversation about transgender identity around very privileged white people. Elliot Page himself has carefully framed his own message to focus on Black and Latino/a/x trans folks, correctly noting that BIPOC trans people face the highest levels of violence. Every trans person’s journey is different. For some of us, we must also carry the burden of the racism we experience every day of our lives."
The New Abortion Rights Advocates Are on TikTok (New York Times)
Advocates for Youth. Gen Z activists “have really pushed for the issue as an intersectional issue. Your race, gender, sexuality, age — all of those contributing identities impact your access to care.” — Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, vice president of policy, partnerships and organizing at Advocates for Youth.
How Biden can fight sexual violence on U.S. campuses (Reuters)
"Biden’s Department of Education (ED) should work closely with student survivors to issue new regulations aimed at achieving Title IX’s intended goal––equity," Sage Carson, manager of our Know Your IX campaign.
'It’s time to catch up’: how ideological sex education fails Texas students (The Guardian)
“They’re having the opposite outcome of what their desired impact is, and if they would just follow what the science and the evidence tells us works, those young people in Texas would be in a far better and healthier state,” said Nora Gelperin, director of sexuality education and training at Advocates for Youth.
Trump's encouragement of QAnon is dangerous — it makes protecting kids from real abuse harder (Salon)
"It is not helpful to present child sexual abuse as a shadowy conspiracy, when we know that most perpetrators are actually known to the child," Debra Hauser, the president of Advocates for Youth, told Salon.
In many Asian languages, 'LGBTQ' doesn't translate. Here's how some fill the gaps. (NBC News)
"Oftentimes, people come out in very isolated little islands, and it is very hard because of that isolation initially," said Ameera Khan, an activist with the Muslim Youth Leadership Council, which works on LGBTQ, sexual health and reproductive rights issues. "But as the community grows — and there are communities in every ethnicity across the globe — that makes their culture almost countercultures with their own language."
What is LGBTQ+ History Month? It's A Time For Teaching, Experts Say (Romper)
"Teaching about LGBTQ+ history is one of several protective factors — the characteristics, conditions, and behaviors that directly improve positive health outcomes or reduce the effects of stressful life events — that affirm the identities of LGBTQ+ youth," Armonté Butler, Senior Program Manager for LGBTQ Health & Rights at Advocates for Youth, tells Romper in an email. "Other protective factors include acceptance and support from parents and peers and the inclusion of Gender and Sexuality Alliances (formerly known as Gay-Straight Alliances) at schools."
Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Instagram to recognize five Latinx influencers with the 2020 #YoSoy Award for their social activism during the 33rd Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards (9/30/2020)
Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca (@granvarones) is a queer HIV positive creative born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He is the creator of Gran Varones, a digital project that highlights LGBTQ pop culture history and community storytelling through a Black/Latinx lens. He also works in partnership with young people living with HIV to combat stigma (Advocates for Youth), and hosts a YouTube series for LGBTQ youth, “Kikis with Louie”. Louie is a father of a 17 year-old son and worships the Patron St. Mariah Carey.
Fact Check: No, the Sex Ed Bill Does Not Force Schools to Teach 4th Graders Sexual Positions (The Stranger)
One of the many curricula OSPI reviewed is called "Rights, Respect, Responsibility (3Rs)," published by an organization called Advocates for Youth. Advocates for Youth launched nearly 40 years ago with a mission "to promote effective adolescent reproductive and sexual health programs and policies in the United States and the global south."
Betsy DeVos Rewrote Campus Sexual Assault Rules, But Survivor Activists Aren’t Backing Down (Mother Jones, 8/27/20)
“Historically, we viewed Title IX as a great tool to improve campus policies,” Sage Carson, the manager of Know Your IX, told nearly 200 victim advocates and students during a webinar about the new regulations last week. “Now, it’s a bit more figuring out how to get around Title IX.”
How College Students Can Have Safer Sex This Semester (Rewire)
If your health center is closed or operating at reduced capacity, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing may be more difficult to access. By making barrier methods more widely available, you’re helping to slow the transmission of STIs, too. Student leaders can apply for Advocates for Youth’s Condom Collective, and if accepted, they’ll be sent 500 condoms to distribute on campus.
A New Title IX Rule Essentially Allows Accused Sexual Assailants to Hide Evidence Against Them (Time, 8/13/20)
by Nicole Bedera, Seth Galanter, and Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX. Despite the DeVos administration’s rhetoric around due process and fairness, there is nothing fair about this regulation. And that’s even more egregious when the law in question—Title IX—is intended to promote equality on campus. Instead of fulfilling its goal to protect students from the threat of sexual violence, the new regulation makes it easy for perpetrators to rape without consequence and forces their victims to bear the cost.
100 Years After Women's Suffrage, US Voters Still Face Countless Barriers (Vice, 8/3/2020)
Childcare is rarely considered in conversations around voter suppression. But for those without access to it, it can be a huge obstacle on voting day. In the United States, childcare is unaffordable for most families. “Lack of childcare is only one out of many issues that make it difficult for low-income communities to vote,” said HK Gray, an organizer with Advocates For Youth. “I’ve never missed the opportunity to vote in any election but… I often end up voting with a baby on my hip, most of the time while she’s throwing temper tantrums,” Gray said. “This causes me to rush or sometimes having to quit mid-voting and come back the next day. It’s exhausting and I can understand why some parents choose to not vote at all, and why low-income communities have such low voter turnouts when this is just one issue working against them.”
What do all the letters in LGBTQIA stand for? (Independent, 6/22/20)
Speaking to Elite Daily, Louis Ortiz-Fonesca, Senior Program Manager for LGBTQ Heath and Rights with Advocates for Youth, said: “I explain it by simply saying that the ‘plus’ is an inclusive and intentional way of representing different identities and experiences.”
Hundreds of thousands join the New Poor People’s Campaign virtual March (People's World, 6/22/20)
The hundreds of NPPC co-sponsors, including 12 unions, ranged from Advocates for Youth to the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Many teamed up to broadcast the rallies on social media, accounting for the huge turnout: At least 150,000 attended the first 3-1/2-hour session that began at 10 a.m. June 20, and thousands more tuned into rebroadcasts that night and the following evening.
Trump's transgender healthcare restriction blocked, for now (Mashable, 6/16/20)
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ employees are protected against discrimination. While the decision doesn't invalidate the Trump administration's reversal on Friday of Obama-era protections for transgender people, the organization Advocates for Youth told Mashable that it does "put us a step in the right direction to have stronger case law and stronger interpretation of the words around sex discrimination."
60 Years Later, The War Against Birth Control Rages On (Refinery 29, 5/6/20)
According to Rebecca Thimmesch, Campaign Manager of Free the Pill at Advocates for Youth, the FDA decision to put the first birth control pills on the market were still very-much grounded in stigma. “The Supreme Court didn’t legalize birth control use among married couples until 1965, and among non-married people until 1972. So there has always been inequality in terms of who had access and who didn’t,” Thimmesch tells Refinery29. “For low-income young people, young people of color, undocumented young people and disabled young people, in particular, the obstacles to gaining and filling a prescription for birth control can be insurmountable.”
Teens Face Extra Barriers to Abortion. This New Site Can Help. (Rewire, 5/6/20)
Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, vice president of policy, partnerships, and organizing at Advocates for Youth, said even young people who tackle judicial bypass with an attorney often feel “stigmatized, judged, or even criminalized—like they had done something wrong.” “Forced parental consent laws, like this new one in Florida, are just one more barrier in a whole system of obstacles for young people to access abortion care,” Thu-Thao Rhodes told Rewire.News. “What lawmakers may not realize is that parental involvement laws have no clear impact on birth or abortion rates, do not guarantee that a young person will talk to their parents before they have an abortion, and often just delay young people’s abortion care.”
Groups Express Grave Concern about the Commission on Unalienable Rights (Human Rights Watch, 5/1/20
As human rights organizations, scholars, defenders and activists, we the 167 undersigned, write to express our grave concern about the work of the U.S. State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights and any potential report or output that undermines the international human rights system and purports to reinterpret its respective treaties and monitoring bodies.
Reproductive Health Care Has Always Been Essential, Especially During A Pandemic (MTV, 4/29/20)
“I think the challenge right now is figuring out exactly what’s already out there [to access reproductive health care],” Rebecca Thimmesch, who leads youth contraceptive access work at Advocates for Youth, told MTV News. She anticipates telehealth apps will become a vital resource for young people in need of specific kinds of appointments — though she emphasizes telehealth is not an ideal option for everybody or every condition. Insurance through apps can be confusing, and some young people may be unable to receive necessary mail deliveries for treatment — like shipments of contraceptives — because of strict parents or housing instability. She points to the benefits of over-the-counter birth control pills, which would allow any young person to head into a pharmacy and stock up on medication while practicing social distancing.
Inside the Sex-Positive, Socially Distanced Rebirth of Sex Ed (Jezebel, 4/14/20)
"The goal isn’t to saddle over-burdened parents with yet more expectations around home-schooling, says Lincoln Mondy of Advocates for Youth, one of the organizations behind AMAZE, although he does note that in all those viral color-coded parental curricula, sex ed is conspicuously absent. Instead, the idea is to set parents up to have ongoing casual conversations with their kids around sex. “From what we know about the patchwork quilt of sex-ed laws across the country, a lot of kids are getting really harmful abstinence-only education or nothing at all,” said Mondy. “I think this provides an opportunity to really check in: Is my kid being given all the tools and resources they need to develop healthily mentally and socially—and, if not, what can I do to help them?”
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day 2020 (Poz, April 10, 2020)
"One of the challenges facing youth living with HIV is the shift from pediatric care into adult care. That usually happens at age 25, and it puts them at risk of falling out of care. To ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, Advocates for Youth—the organization that launched NYHAAD seven years ago—released the Medical Mentorship Toolkit & Guide."
Overcoming the Persistence of Stigma (Poz, 3/30/20)
When asked about these survey results, Burnside didn’t hesitate to blame the limited or nonexistent sexual education in schools. He also pointed to the culture of fear and misinformation in certain communities, something with which Kayla Quimbley agrees. “The problem in rural areas is misinformation and stigma,” she says. “Where I’m from, everyone knows everyone, and people don’t want to go to the health clinic because people they know from the community work there, review the charts, administer the medicine and tell your business. So people instead sweep things under the rug. Something so prevalent as HIV shouldn’t be taboo.” - Featuring youth activists Corey and Kayla and staff member Louie Ortiz-Fonseca.
Colleges Leave Sexual Assault Survivors In Limbo As Coronavirus Spreads (U City News, 3/20/20)
Sage Carson, manager of the anti-sexual violence organization Know Your IX, has heard from at least 15 students whose schools have given little to no guidances on how their pending Title IX cases will continue, if at all, amid the outbreak. Carson told HuffPost that many survivors have seen other pending disciplinary cases still move forward, such as plagiarism accusations or roommate disputes. Title IX complaints, however, seem to be stuck in the mud. “We know that schools don’t always think of survivors first ― or even second,” Carson said. “So, knowing that it may take a long time for administrators to address this issue during the coronavirus can be very scary.” While these are unprecedented times, schools need to be transparent and need to prioritize giving survivors as much autonomy in the Title IX process as possible, said Carson, from Know Your IX. “Sexual violence takes away control from someone,” Carson said. “So making sure that survivors have choices and those choices are in their hands is one of the most important things that advocates and schools can do. When schools go silent, it can bring a lot of fear for survivors who have been really grappling with trying to gain back some control in their lives.”
Coronavirus’ Added Risk for LGBTQ+ Communities (The Pride, 3/16/20)
As LGBTQ+ community and health leadership, the undersigned organizations offer to stand shoulder to shoulder with the mainstream health leadership to make sure we learn from history and do not allow any population to be disproportionately impacted or further stigmatized by a virus.
Solutions for shuttered schools sidestepped as candidates debate coronavirus response (Politico, 3/16/20)
Victim advocacy groups say they are already seeing the fallout of the new rules. Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX, said the confusion around the rules and the department's stance is already preventing students from filing Title IX complaints with OCR or even their schools.
Future of Sex Education Initiative issues updated standards (Education Dive, 3/13/20)
The Future of Sex Education Initiative recently released its second edition of "The National Sex Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12" in an effort to support teachers seeking a medically accurate, trauma-informed and inclusive sex education. The resource was produced by Advocates for Youth, Answer and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.
The Ms. Q&A: On the Heels of June Medical Services v. Russo, A Conversation with Young Abortion Activists (3/13/20)
The day before the hearing, Ms. sat down at the Advocates for Youth Headquarters in D.C. with young activists from Louisiana who traveled to Washington to represent their home state. We discussed an array of topics, including activist burnout, mental health and the struggle of being taken seriously by older folks on either side of the fight.
Feminists React to the Case That’s Bringing Abortion (Yet Again) to the Supreme Court (Ms., 3/4/20)
Kaylan Tanner, a young activist from New Orleans who traveled to Washington, D.C. for the rally, spoke before an audience of thousands of pro-abortion rights advocates at the #MyRightMyDecision rally about how the Court’s decision could impact her community: “As a 20-year-old college student in Louisiana, the thought of such a personal decision of if and when I choose to start a family being left up to politicians is terrifying. Young people have the right to make decisions about our lives and our futures, especially when it comes to the decision to have a child. We don’t need politicians and barriers standing in our way. Young people need access to the full spectrum of affordable reproductive care, including sex education, contraception, abortion, and pre-natal and maternal care.” Deb Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth: “Young people have the right to make their own decisions about their reproductive health care without political interference. Medically unnecessary barriers to abortion care are especially harmful to young people who already face challenges accessing the care they need. “I am proud to support young people from Louisiana and across the country who are challenging the Supreme Court to uphold their constitutional rights and keep clinics open. It is young people who are leading the fight to ensure everyone has access to abortion, and we must follow their lead.”
A Sex Ed Update For An Internet-Enabled Generation (NPR 2/26/20)
A conversation with sexuality education experts including Advocates' Brittany McBride.
Education Department vows probes of how schools handle sexual violence (Washington Post 2/26/20)
The group Know Your IX, a project of the advocacy group Advocates for Youth, put the new announcement into that context. “We wish we could celebrate this new initiative from ED,” the group said on Twitter. “But we aren’t going to praise DeVos and Marcus for enforcing a law that they are simultaneously ripping to shreds. This PR stunt won’t soften the blow that survivors are about to face when DeVos drops her Title IX rule.”
Appeals Court Upholds Title X 'Gag Rule' (MedPage Today 2/24/20)
"What the Trump Administration started, and the 9th Circuit has upheld today, is a shameful dereliction of society's duty to ensure that all people -- and especially all young people -- have what they need to stay healthy and protect their futures," Deb Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, an organization supporting young peoples' access to reproductive healthcare, said in a statement. "Young people are working to move this country forward, not backward, and they won't tolerate these constant attacks on reproductive and sexual health care services."
Republicans Don’t Want to Exempt Menstrual Products from Taxes in Tennessee — Even Just For One Weekend (Supermajority, 2/20/20)
Shreya Pokhrel, an Advocates for Youth student organizer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Supermajority News that there are some important things that communities can do to help low-income residents who can’t afford menstrual products. “In my organization, Planned Parenthood Generation Action at UAB (the University of Alabama at Birmingham), we successfully organized for the installation of free menstrual hygiene dispensers in the majority of the female and gender-neutral restrooms on campus,” Pokhrel said. “I would encourage communities to organize menstrual hygiene drives with local organizations, advocate for dispenser installation on college campuses, and encourage private businesses to place a basket of free products in restrooms.”
Title IX Complicates Hill Negotiations on Higher Ed (Inside Higher Ed, 2/18/20)
In addition to the fight in Congress over the HEA, Sage Carson, executive director of Know Your IX, said the advocacy group is preparing to campaign to prod colleges and universities to take steps like continuing to investigate off-campus sexual assault and harassment, even if they are no longer required under the new rule. Carson said her group also is planning to lobby state legislatures to pass laws requiring institutions to go beyond requirements of the rule.
HBCU Queer Organizing in Action (Swerv, 2/15/20)
"Amongst the 30% of HBCUs that have LGBTQ student organizations, UDC is one of them. The Alliance Group (T.A.G.) serves as the first and only LGBTQ+ organization for undergraduates at UDC. ... Last semester, one of the only signs for gender-neutral restrooms was vandalized on campus. T.A.G. immediately jumped into action to meet with administrators and educate their campus community of this bias incident and the ways it directly impacted LGBTQ+ and Non-binary students." Shabre West of YouthResource serves as VP of TAG.
New Campus Sexual Misconduct Rules Will Tackle Dating Violence (New York Times, 2/10/20)
“There’s still a lingering idea that dating violence is an interpersonal issue that two folks need to work on, something that just happens between men and women, rather than seeing it as a form of violence that has an impact on education,” said Sage Carson, the manager of the victims’ rights advocacy group Know Your IX. Ms. Carson said that she considered the dating violence provision a positive development, but, coupled with Ms. DeVos’s other proposals, it could be a “double-edged sword” for victims. “Some of the procedures could be extremely dangerous for them,” Ms. Carson said.
Is there room for religious discussions about forgiveness in cases of campus sexual assault? (Deseret News, 2/11/20)
Advocates like 21-year-old Elizabeth Boyle, University of Notre Dame student body president and an organizer for Know Your IX, a youth-led nonprofit initiative, say removing oversight of Title IX exemptions may lead to abuses of the law, and allowing mediation could make it easier for schools to promote a “forgive and forget” mentality when it comes to sexual assault.
What Your Teen Wishes You Knew About Sex Education (NPR, 2/11/20)
"I can't have a meaningful lesson with young people on what relationship goals may look like when we haven't established the foundation of how to negotiate with a partner, how to communicate, how to select a partner who's respectful of you," says Brittany McBride, senior program manager of sexuality education at Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works on sexuality education and sexual health.
With PrEP, HBCUs Miss The Mark (Essence, 2/7/20)
by Jermany, YouthResource. "nearly seven years, it’s disappointing that only Morehouse is offering PrEP to HBCU college students despite the fact that Black college students are at a greater risk of acquiring HIV.
Florida Democrats Refuse to Stand Against Anti-Choice Measure (Rewire, 2/6/20)
by Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes. "Florida’s forced parental consent legislation, and all laws like it, leave young people at risk and without recourse. It puts a young person’s decision about their own pregnancy in someone else’s hands, robbing them of the bodily autonomy we are fighting to preserve. All who are concerned about young people’s safety, and all who believe in the right to abortion access, must fight forced parental involvement in young people’s abortion care with as much commitment and ferocity as we would any other attack on abortion rights."
Trump Administration Will Now Deny Visas to Pregnant Women (The Cut, 1/23/20)
"Advocates for Youth was also critical of the new policy, telling the Cut in a statement, “It is the purest violation of basic human rights for people to have their bodies scrutinized by officials, their motives for visiting impugned, and their personal testimony that they are not pregnant ignored.”
Sexting in Sex Education (1/14/20)
"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."