Category > Sex Education
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Jul 15, 2012
This past weekend, I attended the National Council of La Raza’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas Nevada. I had the most amazing time in the NCLR conference. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead a workshop with an amazing individual, Ana Laura Rivera, in the Lideres Summit [the youth component of the NCLR Conference]. In addition, our coordinator Hemly Ordonez was (and is) amazing throughout this entire conference. Also, I met awesome DREAMers!
Ana Laura, from YWOC, and me!
Our presentation was titled, “Sex Education Advocacy: Helping Youth Make Sound and Good Decisions” and we had approximately forty high school and college students. Our presentation offered an array of valuable information. Also, we felt that it was crucial to engage our audience through thoughtful questions. For example, we asked, “What do you think consists of an effective sex education class?” and we even had a fun game called, “Named that Contraceptive!” in which we displayed a photo of a contraceptive and asked the audience to correctly name it. In this presentation, we began with defining sex education and the two types of sex education [abstinence-centered and comprehensive sex education]. Second, we described different methods of contraception and passed around a female condom so our audience could have an actual view of a type of contraceptive. Third, we provided statistics of birth rates among adolescents in the United States with a special emphasis on Latino adolescents. Lastly, we informed our audience on how they could effectively advocate for this issue and others. Overall, we had an informative and fun presentation with a receptive audience! After the presentation, Ana Laura and I were interviewed by the Huff Post Voces, the Spanish segment of AOL’s Huffington Post.
My flight was scheduled for 1AM Sunday but I missed it because I confused the times. However, if I would have left, I would not have learned many valuable things, especially about myself, on that exact Sunday. For example, Hemly helped me understand and shape my own identity as a Latina, as a young mother, and as an activist. I learned that it in order to shape your identity you must understand your past, history, and culture and how it fits in the larger context. In this blog, I want to talk about my culture, my upbringing on welfare programs, and teenage pregnancy.
On welfare programs…
In the Nuestras Voces, Nuestra Salud: A Critical Conversation About Latina Reproductive Health, a policy workshop, I became emotional because I finally understood the issues that Latinas face in a larger scale. I saw my entire life in those three simple PowerPoint presentations. I first saw it through my childhood as a Medicaid recipient. My three siblings and I grew up with the assistance of welfare, including Medicaid, housing, and food stamps. The first time my mother received Medicaid was when she was pregnant of me because it was considered a high risk pregnancy. She had not received it before because at the time she lived in Matamoros, Mexico and she believed that it was not correct to receive government services. Ultimately, she returned to the United States because she was extremely poor in Mexico, even though she was born in the U.S. and loved Matamoros. These programs helped us tremendously when my mother and father worked on minimum wage. On a separate note, we got sick often! Medicaid helped us when we were sick, when my brother broke his arm, when we needed a checkup to play sports. Even though we lived with a low socioeconomic status, we received quality healthcare insurance and medication because of Medicaid. Once I became pregnant, I knew that I needed healthcare insurance for my pregnancy, so I applied for Medicaid. Throughout my pregnancy, Medicaid helped me tremendously! It assisted me in providing for monthly and weekly medical visits, prenatal vitamins, and additional services I needed. It paid for my hospital bill when Frida was born. After the pregnancy, I placed Frida on Medicaid and I also received assistance from WIC. So in this presentation, I also learned about the Affordable Health Care Act and became ecstatic to learn about the services that would assist many people without medical insurance. At the moment, my brother, sister, and myself are without insurance and I immediately thought of them. I dislike thinking that my brother or my younger sister cannot visit a doctor because he has no medical insurance or sufficient money.
On teenage pregnancy…
On a booklet titled “2011 Bringing Opportunity Home: A Latino Public Policy Agenda for the 112th Congress” [provided by NCLR] it stated [in regards to teen pregnancy from a study in 2006],
“Among racial and ethnic minorities, Latinas ages 15-19 have the highest teen pregnancy rate (126.6 per 1000) and highest teen pregnancy rate (70.1 per 1000). To put this into perspective, 52% of Latinas get pregnant at least once before the age of 20, and Latinas accounted for nearly 33% of births to teens ages 15-19 in 2009.”
Clearly, I fell into this statistic. Even though the Latino birth rate has decreased, we still possess the highest teen birth rate [Texas ranks fourth!]. I also want to note that on a study conducted by the CDC, teen childbearing in the U.S. cost approximately $10.9 billion. These are the reasons why:
“Women who become pregnant as a teenager face a host of challenges, particularly as they relate to education. Furthermore, the effects of a teen pregnancy go beyond the teen mother. Children of teen mothers have higher rates of poverty and are more likely to repeat a grade and drop out of school… Many of these factors have a disproportionate effect on Latina teenagers given the challenges they already face in obtaining a quality education.”
The presenters also mentioned that an overwhelming amount of Latinas do not utilize contraceptives because they cannot afford it and the existing stigmatization.
Teenage pregnancy and young parents face many social inequalities that hinder their development and the possibility of realizing their full potential. In addition, we must provide strong bases of support for young parents to counter these obstacles. Luckily, I have been able to continue with my post-secondary education because of the tremendous help my mother and government services have given to me. I see that they want me to succeed for myself and for my daughter. Initially, I viewed my goals with those motivations in mind but now I have realized that it is much more than that. I am motivated by other pregnant teenagers and young parents. I am motivated by the fact that I am breaking those barriers to success and stigmatization I face for being a young parent. I am motivated by the fact that I am an example that it can be done and that we can help others.
The common theme for this year’s NCLR conference was sparking a movement. For this issue, we spark a movement by initiating the conversation. We must engage in honest and open conversations with adolescents, without the omission or distortion of information. It does make a difference.
In a workshop at the AFY Urban Retreat, we were asked to write on an index card why we are acitivists and we were asked to pass them around and read them out loud. I was given this one and it resonated with my life so much that I decided to keep it. I have had it ever since.
On my Mexican culture…
In this conference, many of the presenters spoke about how their parents raised them with a strong cultural upbringing. They embraced their culture. It is important to note that in Texas, I did not receive any education on my culture and how it played an important role in Texas. It was not until I was enrolled in Mexican American Studies [in college!] that I learned about the Chicano Movement. I am ashamed to say that I did not consider myself a woman of color until I attended the AFY’s Urban Retreat last year. Whenever I was presented with a questionnaire that asked for my race, I did not select white or black. I knew [or at least I thought I did] that I was not white but I was not white, I was Hispanic. However, when other people had “white” on their birth certificate we were all confused. Now I understand that many Mexican Americans registered as white to their birth certificate to avoid many oppressive methods that were placed on them. So, there is confusion when it comes to our role in Texas and the United States. I did not know the history of my ethnicity and I did not understand it. I never questioned it because it was never taught. Our culture was not taught or embraced in public schools. This is a problem in Texas that must be undone. We must teach children and adolescents about our culture, our history, and our past. We can change our future if we become educated on our history. It does not matter if Latinos are the fastest growing group in the United States, we must still become informed, teach others, and empower them to become civically engaged.
Why Learn Mexican American History?
2. Omission and/or distortion in traditional U.S. history
3. Importance to self-esteem which affects
c. Lifestyle Choices
d. Stimulation of Learning
4. Significance to ethnic literacy and how it affects our
a. Daily lives
c. Transactions- locally, regionally, nationally, transnationally
5. Awareness of Mexican American contributions to U.S. history
6. Creation of a school climate which appreciates diversity
From the Barefoot Guide!
Jul 2, 2012
Comprehensive sex education, one of the objective of yalc (youth activist leadership council) is the need of today’s generation education. Giving knowledge regarding sex education helps to overcome the risk of the sexual behaviour.Sex education, which is sometimes called sexuality education or sex and relationships education, is the process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. Sex education is also about developing young people’s skills so that they make informed choices about their behaviour, and feel confident and competent about acting on these choices. It is widely accepted that young people have a right to sex education. This is because it is a means by which they are helped to protect themselves against abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV and AIDS . It is also argued that providing sex education helps to meet young people’s rights to information about matters that affect them, their right to have their needs met and to help them enjoy their sexuality and the relationships that they form other. Research shows that teenagers who receive sex education that includes discussion of contraception are more likely than those who receive abstinence-only messages to delay sexual activity and to use contraceptives when they do become sexually active.
In Nepal , the subject has been introduced from class 6 but the srh information has been included only in class 9 and 10. The education about sex education has been overlapped with reproductive education which is almost different from each other.In the present curriculum , grade 6 and 8,includes only about reproductive areas like HIV ,methods of family planning and other STDS which really lags behinds the information regarding their bodily change and their curiosity regarding attraction towards the opposite sex and others. Students know more about more than those in text books through other sources by that time. Students are exposed to the subject much later than when they should actually have been. All the information is flooded in class 9 all of a sudden rather than gradually introducing age appropriate topics. Several topics are mentioned just but not explained. It means that the curiosity of the students will grow. For e.g.. Process of sex is mentioned but not explained. Similarly, abortion has just been mentioned, but with least explanation. And like the simple sharing information to parents and older siblings are also not included .if such things are focused and put in the curicullum then the students will share their curiosity and share their problems with their parents which will be guided in a right direction.
Jun 28, 2012
In case you missed it, this morning the Supreme Court released their health care decision. There were two major pieces in their announcement:
• The mandate was upheld in 5-4 decision. Chief Justice Roberts joined the majority (shocking!-really it is). The majority has different opinions as to why the mandate is constitutional, but for the most part it considers the mandate a tax which Congress can legally impose on people.
• Medicaid expansion was also upheld, but should states choose not to participate in the expansion, they cannot be penalized by the federal government (i.e. they can’t have their current Medicaid dollars pulled if they don’t participate in the expansion). That unfortunately means that states will be able to opt-out of the expansion which is bad for young people, people living with HIV/AIDS, etc.
We can only hope states won’t opt-out of the Medicaid expansion which is due to start in 2014.
The rest of the health care law stands (young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance, state sex education money, birth control/women’s health regs, can’t exclude people from coverage based on pre-existing conditions, etc.). Now we’re just counting down until the rest of the bill being implemented. To see what is happening when, check out this timeline: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/.
For more information on the Supreme Court’s decision, these SCOTUS blog pieces are helpful:
Jun 20, 2012
When most people think of Texas they don’t think of LGBTQ pride. In fact, they think the opposite. They think of state that, until a landmark 2003 Supreme Court ruling, made same-sex sexual activity a criminal offense for which you could face arrest. They think of a state that overwhelmingly passed an amendment to its constitution in 2005 which banned equal marriage. They think of a state that does not have any legal protection for LGBTQ people against discrimination by employers. They think of a state that provides sex education that either demonizes LGBTQ youth or pretends they don’t exist.
In many ways, these ideas of Texas are accurate, but there is another side to Texas – the Texas we should be thinking about. There is a Texas in which Houston, the largest city in state and the fourth largest city in the country, has the nation’s first openly-lesbian mayor. There is a Texas which has some of the largest and most numerous pride parades and festivals each year. There is a Texas where the Mayor of El Paso stood up for equal domestic partner benefits for LGBTQ city employees and caused a national conversation. There is a Texas which just nominated its second ever openly-LGBTQ individual to serve in the Texas House of Representatives, a Latina from El Paso.
There is a Texas which is changing – one that is young and full of open-minded people who celebrate each other’s individuality. Texas is a big, diverse state – something that we’re proud of. More and more, young LGBTQ Texans are feeling confident to speak out and demand equal treatment and respect for their community. I’m lucky to work with some of these amazing young people every day. In particular, I have been inspired by James Lee, one of our Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative student leaders, who has grown to become an amazing activist for equality. He’s worked diligently to raise awareness for LGBTQ equality on his campus and in his city. I’m also proud to work alongside so many youth allies to the LGBTQ community. With their work and the rise of millennials into political power, I am confident that Texas will be a place of great change. June is a month Texans should be proud of the achievements we’ve had and will continue to have for LGBTQ equality. The way I see it, if things are changing in Texas – they’re changing everywhere.
Jun 19, 2012
While searching the youth led story in Nepal I went through lot of people asking them about their story, their life and their way of living. Their stories shocked me and made me think about for couple of days. But among those stories, there was one such story which I thought must be known by everyone and can be used as a lesson to all who think that their suffering is painful than that of others.
Nagira Khootan, a normal Muslim girl in a small village of Kapilvastu called Krishnanagar, is supposed to be a “curse” or “sin” done in previous life. With the desire to get boy, a girl named Najira Khootan was born. She had 5 sisters with no brother and it was also regarded as a curse for her. From the very beginning of her life she was subjugated and unloved by her parents. Not only from the parental love but also she was deprived of nutritious food and also from the education. She along with all her sister had to do all the household works and was treated as servant in her own house.
With the phase of time, she entered into adolescent period where she noticed physical changes. She was unknown and scared when she encountered menstruation period and the pain that she gets during those periods. She was in a thought that this was some kind of disease, she never knew about it. She was also scared to share it with her family as well. Sometimes she even noticed blood coming out even then she was silent but one day when tolerance was beyond her perimeter she expressed it with her sister only then she came to know about it which made her to tolerate a lot of pain within herself. She remembers what would be her situation at that time when she was unable to say a word to her parents about the change. Her mother was also a female but never tried to understand her because she was also grown up in same conservative society because she desired to get a boy for her family for easy doorway to heaven.
Time was passing but she was unaware about the sex education and way to handle it. Her marriage was fixed at the age of 16 with the boy who is 20 years older than her. Sudden case of marriage came to her life when her father saw her talking to a boy living nearby. Since she was unknown about simple sex education and other basic knowledge she entered to her married life. She was also unaware about the family planning and she became pregnant at the age of 18.She even did heavy work during those days which caused adverse effect in her health. Being pregnant at such a small age and carrying out household activities and lack of proper nutrients her health was deteriorated. Due to all these reason her child was born in critical situation and became malnutrient, unfortunately her baby died after ten days. She had return to her daily activities the day after due to which her health was more deteriorated.
After 2 years she again became mother and gave birth to a baby girl but as her father, her husband also wanted baby boy. She became pregnant five times in the hope and desire of a baby boy which was fulfilled at the sixth attempt. She never ever had any family planning measure nor her husband. Due to all these reasons, now she is struggling for her life.
If she would have provided sex education during her teenage she could have come up with her pain and obstacles and if she could have known about family planning she could have used certain measures to control her pregnancy. And the most important thing if she was provided with parental care she would never ever have encountered such pain in her life.
Jun 6, 2012
Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!
May 27- June 2
Stats this week: 26 blogs by 15 writers
Planned Parenthood “sting” as pointless as usual- by AFY_EmilyB
Inside this post:
So: the video is about a theoretical medical procedure that would be highly statistically unlikely in this country.
Plus, the counselor doesn’t advise anything illegal.
Thus, having no real whistle to blow, the video uses the fictional scenario to get you to respond emotionally to the idea of sex-selective abortion and to call for it to be outlawed.
Inside this post:
Now you might think that Congressman Franks, if he really cared about ending this practice, would want to restrict all methods of sex selection. But you would be wrong. Because despite everything Franks says, this isn’t about sex discrimination or caring about female fetuses. This is an abortion ban in disguise.
Remember Sarah Baartman- by Media_Justice
Inside this post:
In 1810 an English doctor on a ship, William Dunlop, met her and convinced her to travel to Europe with him. She agreed and Dunlop took her with him to Europe where she was put on display for others to view and given the name “The Hottentot Venus.” Her body shape and size was seen as oddly disfigured by Europeans and Dunlop.
Mothers, Daughters, and Loving Yourself- by U-DGurl
Inside this post:
Growing up I never got the “right’ messages of sex or rights of young people, especially young girls. Sexually explicit materials and romantic books that exaggerate a woman’s sexual experience were my primary sources of information, but we all know how terrible those things can be. What’s worse, young girls are “encouraged” to emulate these women that they clearly are not. Up to a certain age, I thought it was acceptable for men to beat their women; acceptable that much older men would lure 25 year olds to their rooms; acceptable that no girl is special enough to desire a life except that with a husband and children.
Inside this post:
Lately I have been trying to inform almost every girl about reproductive justice that I encounter that seems to lack sex education. I try explaining their rights as a young women, sexual awareness, and how sex doesn’t make you a bad person. I enjoy informing young women about sex because I know I’m doing a great thing. I know that everything I explain to them will be spread and eventually lead them to make better decisions.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My blog posts this week:
Four reasons I’ve decided not to weigh myself
New Mexico Health Official Asked to Resign for Suggesting Teens Use Condoms
Rape Victim Denied EC and Rape Kit Because it’s Legal in Oklahoma for Doctors To Do That (TW)
May 31, 2012
“My parents would kick me out the house if they found out I was pregnant .” “My parents never talk about sex.” I didn’t know there was free birth control available for me.” These are the types of things I hear young Latinas around my community say. How much more can lack of sex education affect the Latino community/ Roughly, 50% of young Latinas get pregnant. These means they are having unprotected sex. Most of these pregnancies are unplanned. Why do Latinas have the highest pregnancy rate than any other race? Could it be the cultural morals/values, social pressure, or religious pressure? How does the media usually portray Latinas? These three factors are the main reason why young women don’t know they have choices and options. Reproductive justice is something really important that needs to be known but many young women from Latino backgrounds don’t know what reproductive system means. If most of the young women knew what reproductive justice was then they’ll probably make better choices.
Cultural values in the Latino community greatly affect the decisions made by young women. “That’s my son” is what the typical Latino father says with brag when his son is involved with many girls. But what about “That’s my girl” when she’s seen with a lot of guys. She’s expected to stay a virgin till marriage. She can’t even have a boyfriend because her parents will assume she’s having sex. And if a young women decides to have sex there’s nothing wrong with that. Girls shouldn’t feel less or dirty when they are ready to have sex. Young women Latinas are set to believe that sex is dirty. That is the reason why Latino parents tend not to talk about sex at all with their children. Many of the Latino parents come from an environment where sex wasn’t spoken in their homes so they carry on the idea to their future generations that NOT talking about sex is okay. What they don’t know is that this is affecting the choices their children make. They feel as though talking about sex may encourage their children to have sex which actually is informing them to practice safe sex in the future. Children can’t speak to their parents about sex because they were raised to not have sex till marriage. This discourages young Latinas to talk to their parents about sex.
Young Latinas are constantly put into social and religious pressure when making choices. Why do people always have to decide for them? Young women have the right to decide for themselves and they should know that. They should know that if they’re pregnant they can decide whether to have they baby or not. They should also know that there is access available for birth control and std testing for them, race, social status, or color doesn’t matter. Most of the Latino’s religion is Catholic which makes a young Latina’s choices limited. They can’t have sex until marriage, they can’t have an abortion, and so on. These types of limitations makes Latinas think that having sex before marriage makes them look dirty so they rather not talk about it. Embarrassment or the feeling of getting judged about talking sex has come from families that don’t talk about sex. This makes it so much harder for girls to go look for help, support, and obtain accurate information. Having sex doesn’t make anybody a bad person. Sex is normal and if a young women is ready to have sex she should know how to protect herself and her partner from unplanned pregnancies, and std transmissions. Everyone has the right to have and know their choices.
The media usually portrays Latina women as unintelligent and getting pregnant at an early age. For example in the movie Quincienera a young 15 year old Latina has an unplanned pregnancy. Her character shows that she knew nothing about sex. When young Latinas watch this movie, they seem to be watching an “unintelligent person”. This is definitely not the type of role model young Latinas need. They need an encouragement from a smart educated Latina but the media tends to rarely show positive models for Latinas.
Ever since I started my internship in the Cuidate Program I notice how much help the Latino community needs with sex education. Starting with my school peers I noticed the lack of sex education. Lately I have been trying to inform almost every girl about reproductive justice that I encounter that seems to lack sex education. I try explaining their rights as a young women, sexual awareness, and how sex doesn’t make you a bad person. I enjoy informing young women about sex because I know I’m doing a great thing. I know that everything I explain to them will be spread and eventually lead them to make better decisions. I started to talk to the 9th graders that I tutor at my high school. I asked them if their parents talked about sex and what they think about their children having sex. Most of them responded that they weren’t aloud to have a boyfriend and they were expected to marry virgins based on their parent’s religion morals. Something that caught my attention was when a girl said she hasn’t had her period. I asked her if she has gone to the doctor with her mom. She said “ It feels really uncomfortable talking to my mom because she never talks about sex related things” I told her about reproductive justice and how she has rights to know about her body and what to do with it. I told her there was a free clinic at school available and completely confidential. I encouraged her to go and see a doctor and ask her concerns about her delayed period. She responded “ I feel weird telling a doctor that I haven’t had my period. What if I’m the only one in the school that doesn’t have her period? Isn’t the doctor going to think that I’m asking a stupid question? Can I even go to the doctor for that?” I told her not to worry that the doctor isn’t going to judge her and that doctors see all sorts of patients with different problems. To encourage her and make sure she went to the free clinic I told her I would be more than welcome to go with her to the clinic. I lead her to the clinic and she got an appointment. I told her to tell her friends to tell their friends about reproductive justice and to take advantage of the free clinic available at school. When we came out of the clinic she said thank you. Those two words meant a lot because I know that at least one person now knows more about sex and she’ll be making better decisions in her life. By just telling her I am sure she will tell her friends and her friends are going to tell their friends and eventually the word reproductive justice will mean something for those young women from Latina backgrounds. I will continue to spread the word and keep being an advocate and provide information about HIV, safe sex awareness, and the importance of reproductive justice within the Latino community.
May 31, 2012
I have recently been hired as the staff member who works with the Broward County Youth Council. I am in awe of the work the students on the council have already accomplished. Bringing comprehensive sexual health education to Broward County schools is a daunting task, one that they have faced with absolute determination.
Before becoming part of this collaboration between Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth, I was a Community Health Educator for Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. As an educator, I became painfully aware of the need for comprehensive sex-ed in our schools. Talking to teens about sex and hearing first-hand the misconceptions and misinformation they had about sex and about their bodies, only increased my resolve to ensure that all teens are given REAL sex education [hyperlink: bit.ly/REALSexEdpledge]
Sex education isn’t just about pregnancy and disease prevention; it’s about learning how to make informed decisions about your health and your life. In a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, we cannot afford to keep our teens in the dark. A lack of knowledge about sexual health can cost our teens their future.
By not providing the information to our teens about how they can protect themselves, we are endangering their lives. The majority of teens that I have encountered can’t tell you the different ways that HIV can be transmitted, or they don’t know about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and the fact that it can cause cancer in both men and women.
When we give teens knowledge about their sexual health, we are giving them the tools they need to stay healthy and have a fulfilling life. The Broward County Youth Council is made up of teens and young adults who are a part of the community in Broward County. They understand the need for Real Sex education better than anyone, and that is why they are so passionate about their work. Every member knows that this information can affect their lives, the lives of their friends, and the lives of everyone in their community. I am really excited to work with the BCYC and to help them bring comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate sexual health education to Broward County schools!
May 31, 2012
My friend has taught his three daughters, aged six to 11, never to sit on any man’s lap, for they may be unaware of the effect they may have on the man.
I am impressed with his ability to protect his daughters from unnecessary risks.
Thirteen years ago, when my eldest son was 12, he was invited to go swimming with a stranger. He agreed but informed us first.
We confronted the stranger and, needless to say, were glad that they did not swim together.
The American Psychological Association estimates that 60 per cent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members – i.e. family friends, babysitters, childcare providers and neighbours.
Child pornographers and other abusers who are strangers may contact children via the Internet.
While I do not have the data for Singapore, I feel that parents must take proactive steps to protect their children before it is too late.
My children have been trained to know that sexual advances from adults are wrong. We tell them what are "okay" and "not okay" touches, that no one must touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
We maintain open communication, encourage them to ask questions and talk about their experiences.
After their eighth birthday, they can ask anything about sex. Before that age, they should just accept our instructions.
Some of their questions included how babies are formed, why men masturbate, whether a girl can have sex without getting pregnant and why watching pornography is wrong when most of their friends are already doing so.
One of their acquaintances even boasted that his supply of porn DVDs came from his father. Another child, who is 12, downloaded porn on his iPhone and shared it with his friends. It is a step away from acting out what they see.
Children are curious by nature.
So, parents need to answer these questions, not abdicate responsibility to schools, trusting naively that a few lessons on sexual education is enough.
These lessons provide only information, with no assurance that children would make the right decision as to their sexual experiences.
Children often act based on their attitudes towards an issue, attitudes anchored in a family’s beliefs.
Different families have different beliefs, but some are common to all, for example, that our bodies are not objects to be toyed with.
Other beliefs, like on contraception, abortion, divorce, the role of masturbation, visiting a prostitute, are more challenging.
Adults compromise on some of these but may be unhappy if their children follow suit.
Parents have to examine their fundamental beliefs about sex and sexuality and walk the talk. Children are sharp; they know when we are insincere.
If they do not think us trustworthy in this aspect, they would seek other sources of information, such as friends, the Internet or adult magazines
Sex education is parents’ most important gift to children, as any misinformation may harm their health in the form of sexually transmitted diseases.
We should start as soon as possible to inoculate our children against pedophiles.
May 30, 2012
While going through the course of health education in Nepal, it’s really saddening to see the syllabus as the main focus for sexual health and reproduction is given in class 9. When I was studying, we didn’t actually have the details except the STDs and STIs mainly focusing on HIV/AIDS and reproduction system of male and female. But the time has changed and the young people are being more exposed to the issue of sexuality, sexual and reproductive health. Many people used to suffer due to lack of information but now they know it from other mediums like their friends, internet, TV, etc. if not given in their text. With this we can see that it is risky for the young people of our society to get wrong information and also get carried away with the peer pressure as it is the very main problem of adolescents.
It has been found that on an average boy starts masturbating from the age of 10-15. This shows that it is high time for them to know about themselves, about sexuality and their reproductive health during the class of 5 or 6. For this I think that education is a must thing. Adolescent find it difficult and awkward to talk about their growing pubic hair, growing of breasts, wet dreams, getting attracted to the opposite sex, etc. to their elders or parents. Especially for young girls, many boys and men try to take advantage of their innocence and sexually abuse or harass them and yet the girls can’t come and tell it to their parents unknowingly or knowingly because of awkwardness.
Sex education is a guideline for the adolescents to deal with their problems and fight for themselves. Because parents have a thought that their children will learn in school and teachers think that their parents will teach them at home. This leads for the youngsters to suffer and probability of getting the wrong information is very high. If they learn to cope up with the changes in themselves, it will be easier for them to deal with their life and help their friends or younger ones with their queries too. So Sex education is a must and also the content must be appropriate. Accordingly to the age and class the syllabus must be designed. The teacher, who is teaching health, should also be good. The teacher should make the classroom environment very friendly so that he/she should not feel awkward to talk to the students neither should students feel. If possible some extra knowledge should also be provided to the students rather from the text but should be appropriate to their age. Students should not find difficulty to ask their queries to teachers. This way the abortion rate will decrease, people will have a healthy married life and there will be control in population. The main change in our society will be the attitude of people. The word SEX will not be a taboo in our society which means that people will start talking about HIV/AIDS freely leading to the decrease of rate of infected people.
May 30, 2012
Late last year, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (aka PRENDA) to ban abortions on the basis of race and sex selection (more on that later). With PRENDA coming up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today, anti-abortion hoax video auteur Lila Rose just happened to release a new video “sting operation” claiming to document sex selection at Planned Parenthood clinics. Because these totally-not-coordinated attacks on abortion access have nothing to do with each other, House Republicans made a last minute change to the bill – dropping “race selection” language completely*. Now, we just happen – totally a coincidence, we promise! – to have Congress voting on a “sex selection abortion ban” the day after a new “undercover sex selection abortion exposé” tries to hijack the news cycle.
On the surface, this legislation – along with similar bills in state legislatures – pretends to care about communities of color, who access abortion at higher rates than their White counterparts. If signed into law, PRENDA would impose civil and criminal penalties on health care providers who terminate a pregnancy for reasons of race and/or sex. In other words, this law would now make it illegal to have an abortion for a particular reason. By evoking the images of two iconic freedom fighters and using language borrowed from the Civil Rights Movement, Rep. Franks obviously hoped to distract us from his true intentions.
Let’s be clear – this is not about protecting women and girls.
So what are we really talking about? Sex selection consists of using a variety of medical procedures to ensure having a child of a preferred sex. It takes many forms, including sperm sorting, Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis, and abortion. It’s based on the idea that sex equals gender, and gender equals expected social behaviors and norms. In societies where men enjoy a higher social status than women, there is enormous pressure on women to have sons, including threats and acts of physical, emotional and verbal abuse.
And the truth is banning sex selection does not protect women and girls from this pressure. In fact, it just reinforces the gender inequality that already exists.
Now you might think that Congressman Franks, if he really cared about ending this practice, would want to restrict all methods of sex selection. But you would be wrong. Because despite everything Franks says, this isn’t about sex discrimination or caring about female fetuses. This is an abortion ban in disguise.
Sex selection, however, is real and does take place in many countries around the world, including right here in the United States. Unlike what Rep. Franks proposes, we can discourage gender bias without undermining women’s reproductive self-determination and health care. We want women to be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. PRENDA is a ploy to weaken support for reproductive justice in communities of color by stigmatizing women of color’s reproductive choices and saying they are not fit to make these decisions in the first place.
As reproductive health, rights and justice activists, if we really care about the lives of women and girls, we should focus on dismantling the gender stereotypes that drive the pressure to have sons. We should ensure access to comprehensive sex education and the full spectrum of reproductive health services.
We have a saying in Spanish, “Yo te conozco bacalao, aunque vengas disfrazado.” (“I know you, codfish, although you come disguised.”) Despite his newfound concern for women of color, Congressman Franks doesn’t fool me. He can hide behind the legacies of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass and co-opt human rights language, all he wants, but that doesn’t change his real agenda. He wants to ban abortion. Period. And I see through his disguise.
* Even though race selection seems to have been dropped from the bill – for now – it’s worth touching on the topic for a moment since most of these bills propose banning abortion in the case of sex and/or race selection. RACE SELECTION DOES NOT EXIST. It’s not real. Race selection is a bogeyman made up by anti-abortion activists to attack women of color, especially Black women. Women of color experience unintended pregnancies and abortions at higher rates than White woman. You and I probably understand that is because women of color have less access to reproductive health care services, including contraception, resulting in higher rates of unintended pregnancies. To anti-abortion activists, the higher abortion rates mean that women of color are terminating pregnancies because they do not want to have babies of color. Abortion opponents say any abortion by a woman of color is tantamount to genocide. But to paraphrase reproductive justice activist Loretta Ross, “What Black woman doesn’t know she’s having a Black baby?”
May 29, 2012
During an interview with KOAT-TV earlier this month, the Chief Medical Officer of the New Mexico Department of Health was asked about the stunning, 50% increase in cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia among teens compared to this time last year. As graduations are celebrated and summer begins, New Mexico also finds itself at the top of Guttmacher’s list of highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. In light of these numbers, the reporter from KOAT asked Dr. Erin Bouquin a simple question.
Reporter: What are you guys trying to tell kids?
Bouquin: Use condoms. Condoms are very, very important in controlling sexually transmitted diseases.
Reporter: And abstinence?
Bouquin: Abstinence. I like the ABCs: Abstinence, Be Faithful, and Birth Control.
One hour after the interview aired, Bouquin received an e-mail, asking her to meet with Catherine Torres, the state’s Health Secretary. It was during this meeting that Bouquin was asked to resign because she “didn’t meet the governor’s expectations.”
Yet, when questioned about the resignation, both Governor Susana Martinez and the Department of Health both denied any connection between the interview and Dr. Bouquin’s resignation. Scott Darnell, the governor’s spokesperson, even went so far as to say that Bouquin’s comments on birth control did not conflict with the governor’s views.
The governor is a proponent of taking a balanced and multi- pronged approach to controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; there is nothing in Dr. Bouquin’s interview that would conflict with that approach.
If you‘re not buying this, you’re not alone. The now-former Chief Medical Officer believes the reason she was asked to leave couldn’t be clearer.
On the day I was asked to leave, I said the word condom three times on the news.
In an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, Bouquin says that the department is “becoming more political,” and explains that it’s “recently applied for Title V federal funding that stresses abstinence-based sex education.”
Yet, I do see a silver lining here.. Even though the state “does not mandate sex education or regulate its content if taught” (with the exception of information on HIV), and apparently just forced someone to resign for advocating safe sex, they still felt the need to cover up why she was forced to resign, fearing it would make them “look bad” if it was clear that they got rid of her because she said in public that condoms prevent the spread of STIs and STDs.
A 2000 poll commissioned by the New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition found that 90% of adults in the state support sex education for high school students, along with 78% supporting sex ed for middle school students. I believe it is this overwhelming acceptance of sex education that contributed to Governor Martinez making the baseless claim that she prefers a “multi-pronged approach” to sex ed. As 90% of New Mexico could tell you governor, if condoms aren’t one of your “prongs,” you’re aren’t doing it right.
May 28, 2012
It is us, who knows the twin aspects of early marriage and pregnancy; it’s them, whose minds are dumb on conservative traditional norms and values. Who believes if said that sexual excitement will be returning after teen as well? Who cares if said you got a virgin boy/girl even you married at 25 ages? Who believes you if said no children even after 2 years of marriage? These are all propounding questions still burning in the rural part of world. Though thought optimum sexual excitement during adolescent, there are also risk of complication and diseases during the sexual course. The old concepts and explanation about sex and sexual behavior has been changed, this credit goes to the sex education. The main medium for this in Nepal are: teachers, radio, newspapers, TV, Doctors and Health professionals. The fact sheet by WHO 2012 shows following facts:
• About 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 years and two million girls under the age of 15 give birth every year. Worldwide, one in five girls has given birth by the age of 18. In the poorest regions of the world, this figure rises to over one in three girls. Almost all adolescent births – about 95% – occur in low- and middle-income countries. Within countries, adolescent births are more likely to occur among poor, less educated and rural populations.
• An estimated three million girls aged 15-19 undergo unsafe abortions every year.
• In low- and middle-income countries, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19 years.
• Stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50% higher among infants of adolescent mothers than among infants of women aged 20-29 years.
• Infants of adolescent mothers are more likely to have low birth weight.
Several factors contribute to adolescent births, in many societies, girls may be under pressure to marry and bear children early, or they may have limited educational and employment prospects. In low- and middle-income countries, over 30% of girls marry before they are 18 years of age; around 14% before the age of 15. Moreover, married adolescents are likely to become pregnant and give birth in accordance with social norms.
Education, on the other hand, is a major protective factor for early pregnancy: the more years of schooling, the fewer early pregnancies. Birth rates among women with low education are higher than for those with secondary or tertiary education. There is a lack of sexuality education in many countries. A global coverage measure related to sexuality education estimates that only 36% of young men and 24% of young women aged 15-24 in low- and middle-income countries have comprehensive and correct knowledge of how to prevent HIV. Having babies during adolescence has serious consequences for the health of the girl and her infant, especially in areas with weak health systems. In some countries, adolescents are less likely than adults to obtain skilled care before, during and after childbirth. Pregnant adolescents are more likely than adults to have unsafe abortions. An estimated three million unsafe abortions occur globally every year among girls aged 15-19 years. Unsafe abortions contribute substantially to lasting health problems and maternal deaths.
After all, education on sex is thought to be with great responsibility. It is the way of having equity and understanding the sexual phenomenon, consequences of unsafe sex, and the overall healthy sexual life.
May 18, 2012
As a member of the Broward County Youth Council, I was responsible for getting students to complete surveys about sex education. We are trying to find out what information and education that students in Broward County are getting.
When we began surveying students, I was nervous about what people would say. It was challenging for me to stand in front of a classroom filled with students and ask them to to fill out a survey about sex education. It may be that I was more nervous about the maturity level they may or may not have. Thankfully, most students were excited to complete the survey. Of course there were some that weren’t keen on the idea, and that’s fine too. They weren’t mean and angry about the fact that I asked.
I was surprised the most by the fact that the students thought teens should older be when they received sex education. Girls were the majority that believed they wait to learn about sex when they are older. I was shocked that some students didn’t know that oral sex could transmit STIs (sexually transmitted infections) including HIV/AIDS. When the students finished the surveys, many would ask me questions and for advice on sexual health!
This experience has taught me a lot. I learned that there are too many young people don’t know basic information about sexual health or health care such as birth control. I am glad I had an opportunity to take part in the Broward County Youth Council this year. I enjoy helping people, and fighting for comprehensive sex education is definitely something that students need to protect themselves. I love the fact that I helped others gain that knowledge.
You can take the survey: http://bit.ly/HealthyTeensYouthSurvey
The Broward County Youth Council is a project of the Florida Healthy Teens Campaign sponsored by Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast and Advocates for Youth. The purpose of the council is to advocate for comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate sexual health education that provides teens with the information and skills for responsible decision-making. www.HealthyTeensFlorida.org<http://www.HealthyTeensFlorida.org>
May 17, 2012
Deborah Paz helps to lead the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at the University of Texas at El Paso – a part of Advocates for Youth’s Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative (CAMI). Deborah is beginning her second year in this program and enjoys advocating for comprehensive sex ed and LGBTQ equality in her community.
As a straight ally, I deeply care about LGBTQ equality and I often focus my activism on this issue. I’ve realized that I care about this issue so passionately because I truly believe no one should be punished for simply being themselves or for expressing who they are.
To me, homophobia/heterosexism means the belief in stereotypes and discrimination against LGBTQ people. It is part of a patriarchal society that deems certain people inferior and creates social normative barriers and stigmas toward different people. Homophobia, in my opinion, fails to address the natural essences and diversity of human sexuality. Many people believe that people are only supposed to be straight and they often use the ability of males and females to reproduce together as some sort of justification. Homophobia ignores the fact that diverse sexual urges and desires are real and can be for anybody!
Laws that regulate what a person does in their private lives completely disregard Thomas Jefferson’s eloquent proclamation that every person has the right to "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". Homophobic/heterosexist laws take away our individual liberties without any substantial or compelling legal basis.
My support for the LGBTQ community not only revolves around the issue of marriage equality but also teaching all young people proper comprehensive sexuality education. When we are silent about the issue of LGBTQ-inclusive education, many young people are left to make wrongful assumptions which can lead to STIs and other consequences (all of which are completely preventable.) Teaching youth about sexuality means not only introducing contraceptives, but also including information on getting tested for STIs, understanding diverse sexual orientations, gender identity and healthy relationships. Without this, young adults can find it difficult to bring up this topic with their partner and they may face more difficulty with the rest of society. An LGBTQ-inclusive sex education would not only provide useful information for all students but it would also help to educate straight students about diversity which would reduce stigma and discrimination in our culture.
Supporting issues like equal marriage and comprehensive sex ed are great ways to create an inclusive society where people will not be shamed for who they are. These are big approaches that are gaining new momentum towards acceptance from a majority of society.
President Obama recently announced that he supports equal marriage. There is no doubt that this type of action can become controversial but it is exactly the kind of remark that can create a more open society towards people outside the hetero-normative assumption. Things are certainly getting better for LGBTQ individuals across our country and I believe that with progressive, grassroots organizing and inclusive education an LGBTQ-friendly society can be realized.
May 15, 2012
The destiny of every nation, village and community lies in the hands of its people and is closely linked to their intellectual development. All the nations, villages and communities we admire, hail or despise today are only a fruit of its people’s concern or complacency to partake in their nation, village and community development efforts.
Education and especially that of the girl child is one of these development efforts from which people in rural and urban communities in Cameroon are being excluded. Consciously or unconsciously, an ever increasing number of young girls are, because of pregnancy, being refused their rights of belonging to a community, their right to education is continuously abused, and they are restrained from taking part in community developmental activities.
A Policy Based on Stigma and Rumor
In Cameroon, the dismissal of a girl that is pregnant is inscribed in the internal rules and regulations of almost all schools (primary and secondary). Based on these internal rules which have no legal backing, pregnant teenage girls are dismissed daily from these schools on grounds that, they will serve as bad examples to the other girls in the school, and soil the reputation of the educational establishment.
Waves of shock and anger ran through my family last month when Regine, an 18 year old extended family member, was dismissed from school on grounds that she was pregnant. Dismissed from school in Lower sixth (last but one year in secondary, Regina was no doubt luckier than the 57% of pupils in Cameroon who do not survive to the last grade of primary school; a majority of them being girls (UNICEF).But she is also undisputedly very unlucky in that, prospects of her completing secondary school have been greatly compromised by her purported pregnancy and above all her dismissal from school. Did you get it right? I said purported pregnancy because it has turned out that Regine is not pregnant. Yet she will not be readmitted into her school or any other in the village.
Regina’s case is just one in a thousand of such cases whereby, based on rumor and hearsay, the future of girls in Cameroon is sacrificed on the Alter of morality and Puritanism.
Dismissing Pregnant Girls Robs Them of Their Education Forever
According to statistics from the German Cooperation Agency (GTZ) in Cameroon, 20 -30% of young mothers had unplanned pregnancies with more than half of these girls becoming pregnant after their first sexual encounter, and 25% of them dropping out of school permanently. This, coupled with my observation that a majority of girls dismissed from schools on grounds of pregnancy, rarely ever go back to school, poses a problem of the effectiveness of sex education in the Cameroonian educational system and the raison-d’être of practices like these which makes the school not the safe haven it is meant to be but an environment where exclusion, intolerance, hypocrisy, and terror reigns supreme.
While I agree that teenage pregnancy has to be discouraged, I fiercely oppose the approach to achieving this goal which consists of dismissing pregnant teenagers and advocate for an approach that ‘Manages’ rather than ‘punishes’ teenage pregnancy.
An efficient management of teenage pregnancy is only possible through the education and sensitization of young boys and girls on their Sex and Reproductive Health Rights(SRHR).In my opinion, this approach is even more inclusive and just when the responsibility of educating children on their Sex and Reproductive Health Rights(SRHR) is shared by all the stakeholders in various communities.
There exist a host of cultural and religious taboos in most rural communities in Cameroon, makes sex education to a considerable proportion of people living in these communities a source of moral decay and a means of making children indulge into sex early. Viewed with a bad eye by most traditional and religious authorities, the restriction of lessons on sex education to basics is the order of the day in Cameroon.
A study carried out by the Germano-Cameroonian Health Program (SRJA), reveals that 62 % of girls who admitted having had an abortion had given birth before the age of 19, and 10% before the age of 16.A majority of these girls did not do any pre-natal medical consultations with 26% of them girls having contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the previous year. Frightening, no doubt, are the above facts and figures are, even more frightening is the number of girls who die while having an abortion in the towns and villages of Cameroon. How many of these poor outcomes could good sex education and contraceptive access have prevented?
To reduce the horror caused by unsafe abortions in Cameroon, Sex and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) should be given the place it deserves in the school curricula. The way sex education is currently being done in schools across the country is very shallow with pupils and students limited on to the concepts around sex while they are not taught their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.
In addition to the above, the exclusion of teenage mothers from society through dismissal from school and isolation is a problem rather than a solution. Rather than constantly telling pregnant teenagers that they are a disgrace to their family, their church, or community, they should instead be shown that they can a play a fundamental role in the development of their communities.
The impact of the stigmatization of teenage mothers and the dismissal of pregnant teenagers from schools thus goes beyond just negatively affecting their ability to exercise their right to education, but is having a huge impact on the sexual and reproductive health rights of girls in rural communities in Cameroon. Action that is inclusive is needed if development efforts of each and everyone are to be counted. Because in my opinion, the dismissal of pregnant teenagers rather than being a solution has been the source of many more troubles for communities in my country.
May 15, 2012
Working with the Healthy Teens Campaign’s Broward County Youth Council (BCYC) was such an inspiring experience. I was so impressed and excited by the council members’ passion and dedication to have comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate sex education in their schools in Broward County.
I have worked with volunteers and elected officials for more than 10 years, and seeing the Broward council members in action surprised and impressed me. Their passion and knowledge about the need for real sex education was better than some professionals.
The BCYC’s big project this year was a county wide survey of Broward County schools’ current sex education programs; as well as students’ current knowledge and what they would like to learn. There were many challenges and obstacles. Many schools did not want the council members collecting surveys at school. But the council members rose to the occasion and reached out to their peers, distributed surveys at their after school activities, and through social media outlets. They even created a video to encourage students to participate.
The past year has been a learning experience for not only the students but also me! I may even have gotten more out of the experience than the council. The biggest realization I am taking away is that if given the opportunity and the tools to meet their goals, the sky is the limit for our young activists!
While our work has only begun and there is still much to do; I can’t wait for the day all public schools in Broward County have comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate sexual health education due to the hard work of the work Broward County Youth Council!
May 12, 2012
I gave out the last condom today, meaning "Mission Condom Distribution" is complete. While some people sought me out to ask for condoms (as was the case for number 500), most of the condoms were given out at a school event called "One Big Sex Night" which featured a group sex therapy show and sex education. Although not every attendee agreed with what was said by the socio-comedian who hosted the event, almost all of them took interest its free condoms.
I had talked with my school’s University Program Board (who sponsored the event) and helped set up a table filled with free condoms as well as flyers for the Great American Condom Campaign and Trojan’s instruction sheets. It was great to see people’s interest and curiosity toward a table littered with condoms and spread the word about safe sex.
May 4, 2012
Today is the last day of classes, and of course I’m happy to be done with classes (currently pretending there are no finals) but I’m also thinking back to everything we’ve done this semester! This was my fourth semester as president of the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter, a non-partisan student organization that aims supports religious freedoms, civil liberties, and strong public schools. Here’s a group picture from one of our meetings, aren’t we just the cutest activsts you ever saw? I know we are
I’ve summed up most of our events with a few highlights and pictures below, and I know that more than anything it’s been an incredible semester and I can’t wait to come back in the Fall!
Party with Darwin!
This was our first event of the semester, which consisted of two parts: 1) celebrating Darwin’s birthday by eating cake (of course!) and watching Kansas vs. Darwin, and 2) some good old fashioned craftivism where we turned plain old condoms in to condom roses for our Valentine’s Day condom distribution and petition drive! We had a great turnout, just over 40 students came to hang out and many signed up for our Valentine’s Day event too!
One of our birthday cakes for Dawin’s birthday! Not only was it adorable (thanks to our officers), but it was also delicious and vegan!
Some student chapter members creating condom roses by wrapping red cellophane around a condom, securing with tape, and then adding a green pipecleaner! Instant romance!
Our super adorable outreach coordinator, Julian Villarreal, posing with a heart made of condom roses! What a beautiful sight!
Valentine’s Day Petition Drive and Condom Distribution
We know Valentine’s Day is the day of loooooove and often the day of looooooove making, so we wanted to make sure our peers had the condoms they needed to get it on (if they choose to!) and also used the opportunity to collect petition signatures in support of medically accurate, comprehensive sex education! We collected over 200 petitions and mobilized 18 students to volunteer with us! This is an annual tradition for us, and always tons of fun
Getting some signatures! We had tons of condoms that we crafted to look like roses (that’s whtat you see on the table) which students loved, we distributed every condom we brought with us AND collected over 200 petition signatures!
Students for Birth Control Rally with Cecile Richards
We were lucky to partner with University Democrats, Planned Parenthood of Austin, and Voices for Reproductive Justice to hold a rally in support of contaceptive access. Even better? Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and founder of the Texas Freedom Network, came as a guest speaker and I got to introduce her after my rally speech! I was absolutely terrified to speak in front of almost 200 people and tons of news cameras, but it was a great experience and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!
The crowd beginning to gather outside of our tent. Even the rain couldn’t keep these young activitsts away! Planned Parenthood supplied the rally with cool activist signs from their Women Are Watching campaign, which many of us now have hanging up as art in our rooms!
Cecile Richards (YES!), our events coordinator Carisa Lopez, and myself after all of our rally speakers finished! Those are three very big smiles, we just couldn’t help ourselves after the heartwarming support from so many UT students!
Stand Up for Sex Ed: In-District Lobby Day
A small group of activists dedicated their Wednesday afternoon to talk to our representatives about why comprehensive sex education is important and how they can help to make comprehensive sex ed a reality for Texas students. First we gathered at the office where I facilitated a quick lobby day training, then headed to the Capitol. We met with State Senator Kirk Watson’s office and State Representative Elliott Naishtat’s office, who were both very supportive and gave us some great insight about who else we should target.
It was a windy day at the Texas Capitol, which made posing for pictures a little difficult but just even more fun! Here a few of our young lobbyists pose in front of the Capitol after a successful meeting with Senator Watson’s office!
Forty Acres Fest
Forty Acres Fest is a UT tradition where student organizations are invited to table in a carnival-like area with countless fun activities, live music, free food, games, and moonwalks! It was a great opportunity to reach out to new students we haven’t worked with before, and it was tons of fun! We set up our table with a cardboard cutout of Rick Perry, our current governor and the second largest support of failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs (George W. Bush is still #1 though!) so that students could write him a message and stick it to him, literally, with a sticky note. In addition to our fabulous Perry cutout, we also collected petition signatures and signed up new students!
Everyone loved the Rick Perry cutout!
A student writes his message to Rick Perry, clearly further evidence that expecting abstinence until marriage is not realistic!
Leadership Development Institute
Last, but certainly not least, we tied together the semester with a civic engagement training hosted by the Texas Freedom Network to get everyone ready for voter registration and elections in the fall! We’re now full trainined in voter registration drives, voter pledge cards, phone banking, block walking, State Board of Education issues, and already have an outline of events for next semester!
Getting settled in to our seats and ready to learn! How much coffee does it take to get 35 college students to pay attention early on a Sunday morning? LOTS. OF. COFFEE!
Some hilarious block walking role play! Good for a laugh and even a few teachable moments!
The semester is over, but we’ve only begun planning for next semester! Stay tuned for updates and have a safe summer
May 1, 2012
Garrett Mize is the Youth Advocacy Coordinator at the Texas Freedom Network and heads up the Texas Student Leadership Council, a part of Advocates for Youth’s Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative.
Summer is so close, you can almost feel it. At least you can certainly feel the heat of the summer sun here in Texas. Summer means one thing – another semester is coming to an end. It has been an amazing semester in Texas for our Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative (CAMI) youth leaders. Each of them lead a Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter on their campus and they have accomplished a great deal to support comprehensive sex education and equality.
In-District Lobby Days
The Texas Legislature meets every other year. Last year we brought 75 young people to the Capitol from across the state to lobby for comprehensive sex ed. But in an off-session year, what is a statewide youth movement to do? We coordinated a statewide, in-district lobby week for our student chapters. In each city, our students set up visits and met with the legislative staff of their state representatives and state senators to convey one message: support comprehensive sex ed! We’re proud to say that 27 young people participated in in-district lobbying and we know that this will help keep the issue of comprehensive sex ed legislators’ minds until next session.
School Health Advisory Councils
While many of our CAMI leaders serve on their School Health Advisory Councils (SHAC), which are voluntary groups that advise local school districts on what approach to take regarding sex ed, one CAMI leader in particular had immense success. Olac Fuentes joined the El Paso Independent School District SHAC and eventually began serving on the teen pregnancy prevention committee. On the committee, he helped to guide his fellow members to support comprehensive sex ed curriculum and abandon ineffective abstinence-only programs currently being used by the district. The committee took the recommendation to the full SHAC, and with Olac’s help, the recommendation was approved! We are currently waiting on the EPISD board of trustees to approve the recommendation but it is likely that they will. Way to go Olac! A great example of local advocacy at its finest.
University of Houston Let’s Talk About Sex Screening
Our Student Chapter at the University of Houston (UH), led by CAMI member James Lee, recently hosted a screening of Let’s Talk About Sex on their campus with a panel discussion afterward. The event was well attended and even received coverage by the school newspaper. The students’ favorite part of the film was when the attitudes of American youth were compared to the attitudes of youth in the Netherlands.
Leadership Development Institutes
This semester we hosted three Leadership Development Institute (LDI) trainings, at the University of Texas at Brownsville, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at El Paso. We had approximately 30 young people attended each training. They learned extensive information on grassroots organizing and civic engagement. In particular they learned tactics like voter registration, block-walking (canvassing) and phone-banking. Each of our student chapters will be using these skills through the next semester to register thousands of students across Texas to vote. In 2010, Texas ranked dead last – 50th – in voter turnout. And in most major urban areas, less than 1 out of 5 young people voted. The voice of young people needs to be heard in order to raise the issue of sex ed in political discourse. In particular, our student chapters will be educating students about the State Board of Education and their power to create curriculum standards and adopt textbooks for Texas’ nearly 4.8 million public school students. The state of sex ed is so bad in Texas that currently the word “condom” is not even mentioned a single time in any of the three major health textbooks. It’s time for that to change.
White House Young American Series
Recently some of our student chapter leaders participated in the White House Young American Series with Ronnie Cho, the President of the United States’ Liaison to Young Americans. This town hall event was meant to explore the issues that young people care about. UH CAMI leader James Lee was in attendance and brought attention to the need for comprehensive sex ed. TFN Student Chapter members from UT Austin also attended, and the TFN Student Chapter at UT San Antonio participated online.
Kiss for Equality
The fight for equal domestic partnerships for faculty and staff has been an ongoing campaign at the University of Houston for some time. Currently our Student Chapter President James Lee is leading an effort to keep this issue relevant to decisions makers on campus. James organized an awareness event with hundreds of young people on Valentine’s Day. His student organization made rally signs supporting equal domestic partner benefits and they hosted a “kiss in” – a flash mob of sorts where hundreds of diverse couples were encouraged to kiss at the same time to demonstrate their support. It received front-page attention from the campus newspaper and has helped keep the conversation about equality strong in Houston.
As you can see, it is has been a busy semester for us in Texas, but there is still plenty of work to be done!
Apr 30, 2012
In order to achieve sustainable development we need to take into consideration not only environmental and economical, but also social issues. Only through taking into account the intersectionality of these issues, we can talk about sustainable development.
Yes… alternative resources of power, sustainable agriculture, ecobusinesses are for sure important. But the issues of birth control, family planning, human population control and reproductive/sexual health/rights in general are of the same importance for sustainable development.
However, in this blog entry I want to touch the importance of sex education in sustainable development. Sex education helps to build such very important character trait as responsibility, which is important for sustainable development. If a person is responsible for his reproductive health, sexual life and sexual behavior, then it’s more likely that he will take responsible actions for environmental sustainability and they more likely avoid overexploitation and overconsumption.
It’s very important to introduce sex education along with sustainable development classes at schools in Kyrgyzstan. Now we do not have either state-recognized programs for both sex education and education in sustainable development.
Apr 26, 2012
Dear 15-year-old Emily,
Apr 17, 2012
In a casual discussion with some of my girlfriends, we began talking about our sex lives and attitudes. Though we all were of the same age group, two of my friends would not contribute to the discussion with something more than a giggle or a smile to compliment what some other person is saying. When this attitude of theirs was taken note of, some of us demanded to know why they were so dormant and would not say a word to ad to the discussion. It was then that one of them disclosed that she didn’t think sex was an issue to be discussed publicly and as a result of that she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it. Then I began thinking of if this should really happen nowadays. Taking into consideration the fact that so many young people get involved in sexual activities for several reasons such as financial and to some extent peer pressure, not mentioning that about 70% of commercial sex workers are made up of young people, questions could not stop popping into my head. This being the case if abstinence from sexual activities is so difficult for young people, then the remedy should be sex education. As a matter of importance, sex education should be highly encouraged and should not only be limited to the responsibilities of a teacher or teachers but should also stretch to the responsibilities of parents, health officials, religious personalities, peers and everyone. People should feel more comfortable talking about sexual issues to help young people learn more and be aware of the positive and negative consequences they will, they are getting involved with when and if they decide to. Young people should also feel comfortable talking about these issues themselves to help each other by getting information which they maybe did not previously know about.
Apr 15, 2012
Last week, a student of mine in Kindergarten in the Elementary school I work for showed his “private area” to another male student, while singing, “I’m Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO. I asked him where he learned to do that and he simply said he learned it from television.
Two weeks ago, two girls in 2nd grade were discussing the difference between animals who lay eggs and animals who do not. The girls stated that guys release sperm in the mom and they get pregnant and have the baby 9 months later with a belly button, whereas animals that lay eggs do not.
Though this is somewhat accurate, these two girls were well aware of the biological steps to reproduction, a discussion that is awkwardly saved for them in junior high school. When I asked where they learned this information, which I assumed would be from their parents, I was quickly caught off guard when they said they saw it on Family Guy. An cartoon television series that is known for it’s offensive, adult humor that is definitely not suitable for children.
It is clear that these two examples are definitely eyebrow raisers for concerned parents. Though I wish I could teach them about comprehensive sex education, it is not my place to. That is saved for the awkward pubescent stage in junior high, in which girls and boys are already exploring their bodies and sexual drives. These situations make me ponder…
Is elementary school too early to discuss comprehensive sex education?
From my personal experience of working with school-age youth, many children, ages 5-11, are well aware of the emotional and physical concepts of being in a relationship and “liking” someone. Many of the youth ask me if I like my co-worker or who my boyfriend is and often tease me about kissing someone of holding someone’s hands. Many boys and girls go around looking to see who likes them and have a steady boyfriend/girlfriend (sometimes more than one!) for a few days. Oftentimes, they break up and move on to the next one, but nonetheless know the basic steps of being in a relationship, despite their maturity level.
As I observe these behaviors, my mind races with curiosity of how things were in the past. Yes, these things happened in elementary school when I was a child. Seeing my peers “date” someone, kiss, and break-up. While many adults assume that children are still maintaining their innocent-like behavior, I find it quickly dissolving away as time goes on. Children retain information about sex and sexuality more than ever in songs, t.v, the internet, and seeing their parent’s behavior.
In my personal opinion, as children learn from the media and what they hear at home about sex, relationships, and sexuality, the same amount of information needs to be taught to them about sex, relationships, and sexuality.
When I say information, I do mean sex education that is age appropriate and encourages age appropriate dialogue.
I remember being 8 years old and my mother teaching me about the female reproductive system. When I asked her where babies came from, she kept it completely honest and did not hold anything back. She started from the beginning, telling me about puberty and sexual desires to having sex, getting pregnant, and having a baby. She then discussed the social aspects of being in a relationship, such as liking someone, the emotions associated with it, going steady, communication, and even heartbreak. My mother put everything into perspective for me that was easy to understand at my age. I completely respected her for letting me know as soon as possible. If I were thrown into a situation without her teaching me beforehand, I definitely would have made some risky decisions.
Whenever I speak to parents, I encourage them to talk to their children early about sex and relationships. Young children know more than everyone assumes and though they may not ask questions, they see it on a daily basis in advertisements, television, music, and the internet. Kids often put what they see to use and as a youth worker, I have plenty of examples to show for it.
I also do not want to discourage age appropriate sex education before junior high school. Some young girls are already going through their puberty stages before they transition to middle school, while young males are already beginning to question the their phases and are anticipating their own change. Perhaps this idea might be too radical for some, but I do believe that young children will find it more beneficial to be informed about their own bodies sooner rather than later.
Apr 15, 2012
Are you a young person (14-24 years old) who is…
- Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
- Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
- Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?
Consider applying for one of Advocates for Youth’s programs! See all of the available opportunities below.
If selected, you will have opportunities to: develop new organizing and leadership skills; become informed on sexual and reproductive health issues; connect with passionate young people from across the country; and have a lasting impact on your communities. You will also join more than 100 youth activists in Washington, DC for an intense four-day activist training institute free of charge!
Advocates’ youth activists have done amazing work this year. You can join them in:
- Increasing HIV testing on your campus
- Providing confidential support and resources to young people who are worried about coming out
- Working with college administrators to make condom distribution more widely available on your campus
- Mobilizing your peers around international family planning issues
- Working to destigmatize abortion and ensure youth access to affordable birth control
If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, check out the program descriptions below and apply today! Application deadlines are coming up fast.
Wait — I’m not a young person…
If you are a parent, teacher, or advocate who knows young people who are passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, please encourage them to apply today.
Youth Activist Network Manager
Advocates for Youth
Campus Organizing Team
Advocates for Youth works with campus organizations to provide them with skills, information, and materials to conduct advocacy campaigns on their campuses. Each year, selected campus organizations are chosen to receive intensive assistance, including funding, advocacy and media training, materials for dissemination and on-going assistance to help educate, activate, and empower students on issues such as condom availability, LGBT rights, comprehensive sex education, abortion access, and HIV prevention/treatment among others!
Young Women of Color Leadership Council (YWOCLC)
The Young Women of Color Leadership Council is composed of young leaders and activists who come together to promote a message of prevention and empowerment through a reproductive justice lens. All of the Council’s work is a collaboration of diversity and power, in the hopes of affecting a million more young women of color. The goals of the Council are to educate, include, and empower.
YouthResource Peer Educators
YouthResource, a website by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) young people, explores issues of concern to GLBTQ youth. The Online Peer Educators provide affirmation and support to their peers, answer questions posed by visitors, and assist users to find the local resources they need. Peer Educators also write blogs, articles, and issue briefs for the YouthResource website, advocate for GLBTQ rights, and present at conferences on GLBTQ issues.
Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative (CAMI): State Activists
Advocates for Youth works with state youth activists in 8 target states (AL, CA, CO, FL, OH, NC, SC, TX) on youth leadership councils, which advocate for comprehensive sex education and other sexual health and rights issues in their communities. Their goal is to mobilize people in their states to fight for honest, responsible sex education and ensure that young people are listened to and have a voice within the debate. Click here to find out more about our state partners. Applications will be available shortly.
Apr 13, 2012
The Broward County Legislative Briefing was a lively conversation between Planned Parenthood’s CEO Lillian Tamayo, Supporters, the Broward County Youth Council, and some of our champions in the Legislature Representative Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, Representative Hazel Rogers and Senator Nan Rich. They each spoke of 2012 legislative session and the importance of defeating all the anti-choice bills introduced each commented on the fact it was done through all groups joining together and our supporters passion.
The Broward Youth Council members, who are a group of 10 youth leaders that advocate for comprehensive sex education in Broward county schools, were able to give the elected officials an overview of their work in Broward County. Youth Council members enjoyed speaking to legislators on a face to face basis. Most importanly, the elected officials enjoyed having young, passionate voices in the room asking questions and providing comments. You can see some the youth council members in the photo above with elected officials. (From the left you see Tevin Dean, Representative Clarke-Reed, Jenny Dorval, Senator Rich, Flavia Franco, April Copeland, and Representative Rogers).
Apr 7, 2012
On Thursday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, facing a re-call election set for this summer, signed a bill passed down party lines by Republicans to repeal the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act. Yes- he decided to make it harder for women being paid an unequal amount to press charges against their employers. Apparently he and the Republicans in the state legislature believe that women don’t deserve to be paid as much as men. The repeal, supported by several major business associations, such as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Restaurant association, reverses an employee’s ability to “plead their cases in the less costly, more accessible state court system,” and instead forces them to go before a federal court.
Reading about this, I asked myself: “Don’t we have federal legislation protecting an employee’s right to equal pay? How does this law comply with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?” What I learned was that the Ledbetter Act deals with revising the statute of limitations on when an employee can sue for unequal pay; it doesn’t deal with the process of how they do that. What it does say is that you can sue for unequal pay within 180 days of your most recent paycheck, extending the previous limitation of 180 days from your first discriminatory paycheck.
Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin state senator and “major driver of the repeal,” believes that “a huge number of the discrimination claims are baseless,” even though the 2009 law offered such confident protection to employees that zero lawsuits were filed against employers during the two years the law was in effect. Faced with the realities of the wage gap, though- which in Wisconsin is 78:100- Grothman explains the discrepancy as a difference in priorities and a different sense of urgency between men and women; not as discrimination.
During a recent interview, he referred to work done by Ann Coulter, which he claimed showed that the wage gap only effects married women. Even knowing this isn’t true, it’s problematic because it supports the assumption that married women, who are presumed to have children, obviously have better things to worry about than finances. This theory, however, was debunked by a 2007 study by the American Association of University Women.
“After accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a 5 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained,” it said. After 10 years in the workforce, there’s an unexplained 12 percent gap.
When asked for his response to such studies, Grothman dismissed the American Association of University Women as “a pretty liberal group,” and claimed that they overlooked things like “goals in life,” saying, “You could argue that money is more important for men.”
Saying that money is more important for men is like saying that paying the rent, buying food, and covering medical bills isn’t as important to women. It also plays to the stereotype that women want or need men who can fully support them financially, freeing them to do the un-paid “women’s work” like laundry, dishes, and childcare that they really wish they could do even more of.
Sarah Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, says that the new law is a “women’s health issue.”
"The salary women are paid directly affects the type and frequency of health care services they are able to access. At a time when women’s health services are becoming more expensive and harder to obtain, financial stability is essential to maintain steady access."
She makes an apt point, especially considering the long list of recent legislative attacks on Wisconsin women. This includes the defunding of Planned Parenthood, mandatory counseling sessions for those seeking an abortion, a ban on private health insurance coverage for abortion, abstinence-only programs that cannot include information on contraceptives, and a personhood amendment, each proposed or passed within the last year.
Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive and one of two Democratic frontrunners in the Governor’s re-call election, says that as a working mother, she understands the importance of economic stability for women.
"As a woman and as a mother who worked full-time while raising my son, I know first-hand how important pay equity and health care are to women across Wisconsin,"
According to her website, Ms. Falk “has been recognized for her three decades of public service and has received dozens of awards and recognitions” from various groups such as women’s organizations, LGBT and equality advocates, and domestic violence support groups. Her statement reminded me of another Wisconsin news story I heard about a month ago. It features our sexist friend, Glenn Grothman, co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Donald Pridemore that would associate single parenthood with child abuse.
The bill says a child being raised by a single mother could be considered living in an abusive situation…
It would mandate the state Child Abuse Prevention Board conduct public awareness campaigns emphasizing that single parenthood is a leading cause of child abuse.
While being interviewed about the validity of the bill, Grothman spoke of his own research (without citing sources) that claimed an outrageous connection to sexual abuse.
"A child is 20 times more likely to be sexually abused if they are raised by say, a mother and a boyfriend, than their mother and father," Grothman said
He also voiced a conspiracy theory last summer that single motherhood was all part of the liberal agenda.
The Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government,”
That makes no damn sense. And what a slap in the face to the single mothers of Wisconsin, who incidentally, make up one-third of parents raising children in the state. This Republican war on women is despicable. In Wisconsin, women are at a disadvantage to fight workplace discrimination, to get comprehensive sex education, to secure access to prescription medication and medical procedures, and to be given a level of respect as people and as parents, whether married or single. When will it end??
What makes it worse is that the Republicans won’t even acknowledge that what they’re doing is abusive. The Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, recently said in an interview on “Political Capital with Al Hunt” that the war on women was as fictional as claiming we were having a “war on caterpillars.” Nice to know he’s taking this seriously.
In contrast, the Obama re-election campaign has spoken out strongly against these attacks. Responding to Chairman Priebus’ caterpillar comment, Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager said that this was yet another example of why women can’t trust Republicans to protect their rights.
“Reince Priebus’ comparison of Republican attempts to limit women’s access to mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and contraception to a ‘war on caterpillars’ shows how little regard leading Republicans, including Mitt Romney, have for women’s health. … Reince Priebus’ comments today only reinforce why women simply cannot trust Mitt Romney or other leading Republicans to stand up for them.”
And, in response to the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, a campaign spokesperson called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has supported Governor Scott Walker, to tell the women of Wisconsin whether he agrees with the repeal.
"As he campaigned across Wisconsin, Mitt Romney repeatedly praised Governor Scott Walker’s leadership, calling him a ‘hero’ and ‘a man of courage,’" she said. "But with his signing yesterday of a bill make it harder for women to enforce in court their right to equal pay, Walker showed how far Republicans are willing to go to undermine not only women’s health care, but also their economic security. Does Romney think women should have ability to take their bosses to court to get the same pay as their male coworkers? Or does he stand with Governor Walker against this?"
The people of Wisconsin stood up at this time last year to fight against the Republican effort to restrict the rights of unionized workers, and in doing so they inspired the entire country. Considering the extreme attacks they are now pushing through against women, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the people of Wisconsin put up another great fight.
Apr 2, 2012
While campaigning in Wisconsin for the upcoming primary, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was making a public appearance at a bowling alley to spend time among voters. One man who was joining in the game, described only as “young,” apparently picked up a pink bowling ball, only to be reprimanded by Santorum, who said, “You’re not gonna use that pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera.”
There are so many directions I could go with my criticism of this. The first think that comes to mind, given Santorum’s “man-on-dog” history, is that he didn’t want anyone seeing video of their game to assume that he bowls in the vicinity of anyone that anyone could assume might be gay. The extension of this thought, though, is why a pink bowling ball might lead someone to think that the person using it is gay.
In current fashion, though not historically, pink is associated with a concept of femininity. The bowling ball assumption that the man is gay is based on the idea that “real men” only use objects painted in “masculine colors.” This means that if a man uses a pink bowling ball, he must not be a “real man”- which, to someone who would make this connection, is the same thing as assuming he’s gay.
But, again, why would a pink bowling ball lead someone to believe that? Basically- misogyny. If association with an object painted a “girly” color means that you are less of a person, that leads me to conclude that Rick Santorum believes that women are lesser people than men. That’s misogyny.
Santorum clearly believes that he as one man knows better than 150 million women who they should marry, if and when they have children, how many children they should have, if they should watch pornography, if they should be valued less than a fertilized egg, if they are free to practice a non-Christian religion, if they and their partner would make good adoptive parents, if they should be taught scientifically and medically accurate information in science and sex education, or if it’s just entertainment when women speaking publicly about reproductive health concerns are called sluts and prostitutes.
Rick Santorum told that young man in Wisconsin not to use a pink bowling ball because he couldn’t stand to be caught in the same room with a man who thought that touching something “feminine” did not diminish him as a person. It’s sick. That is absolutely unacceptable behavior from someone who wants to be President. If you don’t respect the majority of the people in this country, why do you even want to be President of this country? Is it because you think you can change us? Do you think we need to be saved? This is not leadership, Rick Santorum. This is misogyny and homophobia. These antiquated notions are not helping us move forward. They are holding us back.
Mar 29, 2012
Public school sex education is a huge deal. I don’t think most of the parents or teachers realize how huge of a deal it is. They might perk up and pay attention, but then again, maybe not. May be if they knew exactly what curriculum in what ways is being taught? Then they might would ask it to be more of a comprehensive and an age appropriate one.
I still remember my past clinging. When I use to be in my school days, all of us mates use to be timid when the teacher entered the class to give us lecture on “sex education”. The term itself was enough for us to behave peculiarly. Though the topic is intriguing still the culture that we follow makes it nebulous. And the most interesting fact is that the teacher himself would hesitate in front of us. As a result the chapter would be left untaught or half taught. Yes, that’s exactly what happens and I am sure every one of us might have same or a different story. So on with my question since this issue is fundamental why is it still neglected? It’s something that’s debatable and owes an answer. This issue might also turn into a blame game- “one blaming upon other”. But I think I have my own counter to this. I was wondering what people’s views are on the age children should start sex education in school. I personally don’t think my age group got any sex education at the appropriate age and the government seems to be putting off the idea by not revising the curriculum according to the altering requirements of the children. In my opinion, sex education should start as soon as puberty starts. Most important hormonal changes in our sexual lives start at puberty. Puberty starts somewhere between 8 and 13 for girls and 9 and 14 for boys. And prominently having being born in a Nepalese society it’s hard for us to approach to our parents in case of any queries that pops in to our mind regarding sexuality. That results psychological tribulations, cerebral tensions and depression. The earlier the better and the more comprehensive even more better. These days most teens lack sex education because parents feel shy to talk about sex and teachers think it is inappropriate to start sex education at a younger age. These days children as young as 12 are having sex because they think sex are fun! Not knowing the consequences. The curriculums that are taught here start as early as 4th grade teaching children about HIV. I am stunned and appalled. I have a 5th grader brother and I don’t think that children this young need to be taught about sex as explicitly as these curriculum teach them, and I certainly don’t think they have a need for HIV info either. Tell them about puberty and teach them from a scientific and medical standpoint about the changes that will occur in their bodies, but HIV . . .? I also find it very strange that in these curriculums the STD and HIV lessons are at the bottom. After they have talked to the kids about “touching,” “sexual exploitation,” “gender identification” and “sexual health and hygiene” then they will tell them, well you could get a disease. This is beyond ridiculous. I am so shocked by these curriculums, that I am just doing a little critique of them here.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a program that starts in kindergarten and continues through high school. It brings up age appropriate sexuality topics and covers the broad spectrum of sex education, including safe sex, STDs, contraceptives, masturbation, body image, and more. If this is the type of sex education your teen is receiving at school there may be times that you need to buffer some of the information, as it may have come sooner than your teenager needed it. Typically, most schools fall in the middle of the two types of programs. Either way, you will need to know what your teenager is being – or is not being – taught about sex and their sexuality. Then you can be prepared for their questions with the correct answers, and not leave it to their friends or the media to educate them and importantly not leaving them with psychological traumas.
Youth Activist Leadership Council
Mar 27, 2012
Mar 24, 2012
“Drinking toilet water can prevent pregnancy.” When I was reading an article named “100 weird daily life anecdotes” shared by my friends on the Chinese version of Facebook—Renren, this sentence, immediately caught my attention. “Gosh!” Said in my mind, I continued my reading of these 100 weird, “must-known” knowledge points. Then, sentences such as “having sex during menses will not lead to pregnant” all come up. So confused by whether people will believe these, I messaged my friends. “Well,” she replied quickly, “I don’t know, it sounds weird but if it works, then it is worth trying.”
Chinese sex education was a problem and is still a problem even though some schools have already tried to improve it. When I was in middle school, I remembered to have a class, just one class, that we were told why girls had to suffer menses with all boys were forced to wait outside the classroom. Then when I entered my senior high, all my sex-ed was finished in my biology class where we learned the differences of male and female and the birth of a child. However, we never got the chance to learn things such as how to be in relationships, how to respect gender differences, and safe sex. So I always believed that first, be in a relation was bad because it was time consuming and would never end up good; second, sex was bad, and it was a thing I should never engage—unless I wanted to have a baby. However, the more forbid we got, the more curious we became. In my high school years, girls had to hide their sanitarian napkins in case guys teased them. Also, guys watched adult videos since they were so curious about sex.
So, the outcome is quite foreseeable. Yesterday, I researched for the Chinese youth reproductive health survey, I got a report that produced by UN and the Chinese government in 2009. So I did some translation: (this is a survey conducted in 2009 in China, targeted on 164000000 young people aged 15-24)
_ Among them, 60% are comfort with having sex before marriage.
_ 22.4% have had sex before.
_ Among the 22.4% young people, more than half of them didn’t use any contraception method during their first time sex.
_ Among female youth who had sex before marriage, 91% of them were forced to conduct abortion.
_ And for the reproductive health service part, about 60% consulting services needs and 50% treatment needs are unmet.
_ Only 4.4% youth have correct understanding about reproductive health and only 14.4% youth have the correct knowledge about HIV prevention.
So comprehensive sex-ed, we need it!
Mar 22, 2012
Here at Amplify we believe that young people matter. A lot. When half of the world’s population is under 25, it is to everyone’s advantage — especially elected officials, decision makers, and members of the media — to listen closely to young people’s voices. But what are the issues that matter most to them?
During the next few months we’ll be posting blogs about Millennial viewpoints — who they are, what they do, and how their attitudes and beliefs are shaping our world. In fact, our first blog post was just published on Politico. Check it out, share it out, and comment. Also, please check out our new website section on AdvocatesForYouth.org about Millennials. It’s brimming with facts, polling data, and amazing infographics.
Millennials, young people 30 and under, are coming of age in a world vastly different from that of their parents and grandparents. The Millennial generation is diverse, technologically savvy, open minded, and committed to sexual health and rights. In fact, this generation may just be the most pro-sexual health generation in U.S. history and has the potential to put America on course to become a truly sexually healthy nation.
In 2012 there will be 64 million Millennial eligible voters, 29 percent of all eligible voters. Every year there are an additional 4 million new Millennial voters; by 2016 they will represent 36 percent of eligible voters and by 2020 they will represent just under 40 percent of eligible voters.
You would think that addressing the interests of young people would seem like a natural conclusion for politicians. And yet young voices are continuously pushed aside because many politicians refuse to engage young people on issues that matter to them.
And what’s a priority issue for young people? Sex.
They already favor a more pragmatic, comprehensive approach to sex education which means going beyond just talking about risk and disease prevention including the promotion of healthy relationships, effective communication and decision-making based on personal values. Based on their attitudes not only on comprehensive sex education, but marriage equality and reproductive health issues, Millennials could be the generation that finally ends the cultural wars on these issues and moves us to a sexually healthy nation.
Here’s looking at you, Millennials.
Mar 22, 2012
With so many people claiming to be deeply invested in the sexual lives of unmarried young women, our culture is full of expressions and representations of values, priorities, preferences, expectations, definitions, judgments, and assumptions about virginity. Yet in all the conversation, how much of what we hear, or believe, comes from the women and girls themselves? Virginity is often framed in a rigid, black and white lens, yet the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of women and girls who have not had sex are varied, changeable, and at times even contradictory. Yet virginity is thought of as something that everyone understands and accepts to be, on some level, real. Today, what we call virginity is generally thought of in two ways: sexy or lame. The striking difference between these two ideas prompted me to think more about how and why such a dichotomy exists and what it means for and to the girls and women we apply this label to.
I want to start by looking into each interpretation. First: sexy. Why is virginity, understood to be the absence of sexual activity, considered sexy? Part of this paradox is inherent in virginity itself. It is understood in terms of what it is not, so it’s impossible to talk about virginity without also talking about sex. Unfortunately, what we culturally define as sexy, and even how we define sex itself, is still largely described and experienced from a male perspective. Virginity is theoretically female and theoretically sexy because of the way we understand male sexuality. Unfortunately, this shows that a girl or woman’s virginity is not about her, but about an idea, full of its own value and meaning, that someone else places upon her.
It’s hard to escape the language commonly used to define, explain, and often excuse the mental and physical aspects of male sexuality, but without understanding this language and the social structure it’s built on, we overlook the significance that male sexuality has on female virginity. Hanne Blank’s book, Virgin: The Untouched History, explores this connection.
The erotics of virginity are the priorities of patriarchal sexuality writ large. In eroticizing virginity, youth, physical nubility, ignorance, inexperience, fragility, and vulnerability are objectified from the perspective of someone who, by definition, is none of these things.
It likewise demands that no woman may be considered sexually real by herself, that it is only through the sexual action of a male partner that her sexually is truly summoned into being.
Virginity is thought of as sexy because men are told that virginity is something to be acquired and that it takes “a ‘real man’ to convert a virginal ‘little girl’ into a sexually eager ‘real woman’” (p. 195) When a woman’s sexuality is defined by what a male does to her or takes from her, her ability to define her sexuality and to decide for herself what her expression of that sexuality means is taken out of her hands. As long as men are allowed to be the deciding factor in female virginity, the way that we talk about the sexual appeal of women who have not had sex will be defined as what men are expected to think of as sexy.
And now onto the opinion that being labeled as a virgin is lame. This idea began to take shape in the 1960s era of “free love” and available, reliable birth control. Hanne Blank describes the emerging mentality this way:
Along the way, more and more women began to insist that female sexual pleasure was just as important as male sexual pleasure. Rather than using romantic commitment and marriage as their sole yardstick of a successful interpersonal life, some men and women took to gauging personal success on the basis of sexual experience.
…to many it was now seen as the difference between being “liberated” and being “hung up.” To actually be a virgin betrayed one as repressed.
Then, in the 1980s, the United States became the first, and remains the only, developed country in the world to “create a federal agenda having specifically to do with the virginity of it’s citizens,” set up to “teach specific sexual ideologies and behaviors” “upon a specifically Christian model of sexual morality.” Yet, recognizing that the term “virginity” had developed a negative or unwanted connotation, the legislation was tailored to be as deceptively acceptable as possible. “Virginity” was replaced with “abstinence.” You’ll probably be surprised that, in fact:
The word “virginity” appears nowhere in American legislation that deals with the ideal of “abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard.”
This was done under the impression that while virginity was viewed as an “oddity,” abstinence was about “virtuous self-control.” Importantly, it was a choice- one that even someone who had had sex could still make.
But it would be ridiculous to think that just because you call it abstinence, it isn’t still all about sex. And further, it would be naïve to accept that our apparent obsession with abstinence isn’t itself rooted deeply in patriarchy. We see this clearly in the fact that despite “90% of Americans support[ing] comprehensive sex education in the schools,” legislation on both the federal and state levels have “generated a top-down ideological program that rests neither upon the demands of extant laws nor upon the wishes of American voters.” (p. 244) When men make up 83% of Congress and 77% of state legislatures, men are the ones who dictate national priorities, including the language with which girls are told what their virginity means.
So where does this leave the girls and women who have not had (what most people consider to be) sex? What does it mean that regardless of their own desires and actions, they are viewed as sexy or desirable for a circumstance that is not necessarily under their control and of which strangers can associate any value or meaning without their control and even without their knowledge? What does it mean that even when they’re told virginity is something you want to get rid of as soon as possible (or, to stay “abstinent” as long as possible- as if virginity was a tangible thing to be given, traded, sold, or guarded) they are still not the ones who get to decide what virginity is, what it means to them, how they want to express themselves sexually, and what they understand their sexuality to mean?
It seems obvious to me that the fairest, most practical, and healthiest way forward is to put women and girls firmly in charge of their own sexuality. The past 100 years have shown enormous advances for feminism, but we have still to break the stronghold that patriarchy and religious ideology have on female sexuality. Virginity is a social construct- the only meaning or effect it has lies in what we assign to it. It is also ever-changing, which should give us hope that we will each eventually be able to view and discuss our sexuality as something more complex than “has she or hasn’t she?” and more personal than something that is assumed to be universally understood.
For more on the fascinating subject of our cultural attachment to virginity, I highly recommend Virgin: The Untouched History, by Hanne Blank.
Mar 21, 2012
Working in advocacy for LGBTQ equality, comprehensive sex education, and access to abortion, we’re used to people being against us. The recent attack on contraception, though, seems to have crossed a universal line. How could there actually be people in positions of power fighting against birth control?? It seems to have suddenly become a controversy. But there’s always been something about labeling things as “controversial” that’s bugged me. I think I now know how to explain what I mean by this.
It is my belief that despite the deeply partisan temper tantrums that elected Republicans have thrown over the past few years, that there are in fact very few things in the world of politics that are actually controversial. How can this be? I think calling something controversial has become too easy. It’s thrown out whenever there’s any kind of disagreement, and each time, it’s used to make the issue sound complex and interesting- something you should pay attention to. It would be easy to blame this overuse on cable news, as they have to work longer to keep an audience, but I think this habit has taken on a life of its own.
Calling an issue or action controversial has too often now been used to validate a debate that should be straight-forward. Just because there is a disagreement about something does not mean that it’s controversial. Example: Some people (including 21% of Republicans in Alabama) disagree with couples of a different race marrying each other. That does not mean that marriage equality for inter-racial couples is controversial. In fact, I would argue that these marriages were never actually controversial. An issue could only be defined as such if there are two (or more) genuine sides to it. Prejudice, ignorance, fear, racism, homophobia, and sexism (among others) are not genuine arguments. They may be felt genuinely, but none of them are legitimate reasons upon which to pass or reject laws.
That is why women having easy access to contraception isn’t controversial. To say that it is would only be an attempt to make an invalid argument seem relevant. We must demand truth and rationality in our discourse. It does us no good to waste time arguing over things that should be reasonably understood. We cannot let empty words distract us from the facts.
Mar 21, 2012
It has come to my attention once again about how much work needs to done in order to sensitize our male counterparts on gender inequality. Since the beginning, society has degraded women and has made them look as an inferior sex. At a Myths and Taboos session with some high school boys I observed that many of them think of women as simple objects of pleasure. They, on the other hand, consider themselves strong and worthy of having sex at anytime with anyone without fear of being labeled the way women are if they did the same thing. Why though? I strongly believe that it is really unfair for a woman or a girl to have to put up with all these negative stereotypes. Sexual relationships are an important and integral part of us as human beings. Feeling pleasure is not a sin, however ever since the dawn of humanity, the only ones who should enjoy sex are men; a downright ludicrous myth.
Many of the sex talk that is going around is influenced by the media and it is from there that many young people seek answers to their many questions concerning sex. It seems as if though the media, especially the internet, is the best and only reliable source when it comes to sex. While the internet may have some of the answers, it is not always consistent; it will always have the answers that you want to hear even if it’s not factual. The way women are portrayed by the media is one of the main reasons why women are viewed as objects. Although in many parts of the world, women’s sexuality is no longer seen as a taboo, pornography, magazines, songs and commercials is causing many men to treat women as things rather than as human beings with feelings.
Gender inequality exists all over the world in every society in different forms. Although every effort is being done to achieve gender equality, we the young people need to willingly accept gender equality as a way to foster the growth of healthy communities. Women are beautiful and we are no better than men, we are equal and as such men should respect us for who we are. The media can be very educational and it should not lead people to discriminate, stigmatize or hurt each other. As young people, let us not rely on the media to help us define our sexuality. The process of discovering our own, unique sexuality can be very exciting especially when we love and respect one another.
Mar 20, 2012
Editor’s Note: This blog is part of the HERvotes blog carnival.
This week is the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and next week the Supreme Court will hear arguments from some states who are essentially trying to overturn the law for a variety of reasons.
While the Affordable Care Act is nowhere near perfect and in fact does some crappy things (sets us back on abortion and funds abstinence-only sex education programs to states for five years), there are quite a few positive advances for young people which we have listed below.
1. Young people can stay on their parent’s health insurance until their 26th birthday.
When the healthcare bill passed, young people were the largest group of the uninsured. In these economic times, not only has it been difficult for people (especially young people) to find jobs, but jobs that include health insurance. Being able to stay on your parent’s health insurance just makes sense. New data has shown that nearly one million young people have gained health insurance thanks to this provision.
2. Minors can’t be denied insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Because of the new healthcare bill, minors cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. This is great news for young people who have everything from asthma to HIV.
3. No co-pays for birth control.
In the year 2012, you’d think access to birth control wouldn’t be a big deal…but it is. Not all health plans cover contraception and even if they do, sometimes co-pays are too high to make contraception accessible. In fact, one study showed that more than half of young women experienced a time when they could not afford to use their birth control consistently.
Well, this is about to get better. Starting in August, plans will be required to not only cover contraception, but cover it with no co-pay. One exemption exists for houses of worship who oppose contraception. For religious-based organizations who oppose birth control, they are able to apply for a one-year waiver from the rule, meaning they would not have to comply until August 2013 and then the health insurance company covers the actual cost of the contraception. For groups that are self-insured, those rules are still being discussed.
And as we heard on Friday, this rule also applies to student health plans (yay!), some of which currently do not cover birth control. Student activists from across the country like Sandra Fluke and you have been fighting for a LONG time for this victory. Like with the employer plans, religious-affiliated universities may apply for a one-year waiver, but by August 2013, student health plans will also have to cover contraception making access one step closer to reality for young women trying to focus on their education. Check out other protections to student health plans that were also just announced by clicking here.
Let’s face it. Birth control can be expensive. If women, including young women, want to make the responsible decision to use contraception to prevent and unintended pregnancy, they should be able to access the services they need to do so.
These are just a few gains brought to us by the new healthcare law that have been implemented or will go into effect soon, but there is more to come…
1. No one will be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Whether it’s diabetes, cancer, pregnancy or domestic violence (I’m not even lying. Women have been denied coverage because they are survivors of domestic violence or are pregnant), starting in 2014, no one will be denied access to insurance coverage because of any pre-existing condition.
2. Medicaid expanded!
In order to make sure more people have access to healthcare, in 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to include all Americans who make less than 133% of the poverty level (about $14,000 for individuals and $29,000 for a family of four). This is a HUGE deal for young people and young families who previously have had a hard time accessing healthcare. I know this is especially important for women (like some of my friends) who have become pregnant, had access to Medicaid during their pregnancy, and then were kicked off weeks after delivering their baby.
3. Women can’t be charged more…for being women.
Believe it or not, there are still cases where men and women pay different prices for the same health insurance…and women are paying MORE (Equality, what?). Because of the new healthcare law, insurance companies cannot charge higher rates based on gender. While this also doesn’t come into effect until 2014, it’s a huge gain that honestly, should have happened years ago.
Like I mentioned before, there is a lot to the new healthcare law, but these are just a few of the good things we’ve gained because of it. And while it clearly isn’t perfect, it’s certainly not something to overturn and take away all these advances that benefit young people.
For those who oppose the entire law, it’s probably a good idea to ask them where they stand on these issues, and if they really want them all to go away.
As more of the law is implemented, we’ll be sure to keep you updated!
To learn more about the new healthcare law and additional benefits for women, check out the HERvotes blog carnival.
Mar 19, 2012
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
March 11- March 17
Stats this week: 52 posts by 30 writers
No Te Metas Con Las Mujeres De Tejas/ Don’t Mess With Texas Women- by abril_flowers
Inside this post:
I hoped to rely on resources like Planned Parenthood but Perry decided to select few resources to fund for women’s health services. Planned Parenthood is not one of them.
Inside this post:
There is a big difference between working to implement policies that impact health and implementing programs that impact health. Find what you like. Both are important and have an impact on the health and lives of people, but the skills and personality needed to do each type of work are different.
Wisconsin escalates its war on sex education- by AFY_EmilyB
Inside this post:
But while the new law isn’t a surprise, it’s certainly a disappointment. The removal of instruction about contraception is bad. But calling abstinence "the only reliable" means of prevention is simply a lie.
Inside this post:
Since it can be difficult even for us to keep up with the sudden bustle of Congressional activity, we’ve broken down the top three benchmarks in the women’s health debate, as well as a few ways that you can get involved to stand up for your rights and health.
Inside this post:
In Arizona, SB1359 would allow doctors who personally oppose abortion to – well, not exactly lie – but withhold medical information from pregnant women if they think that information might lead to the woman considering abortion.
Inside this post:
I believe that there are a handful of adult women in the commercial sex industry for whom it may be an employment choice among other employment choices. I can’t speak for them or their experiences. However for millions of girls and women, (and boys and transgender youth) around the world, it’s less about choice than it is about lack of choice.
Inside this post:
…many in Congress who oppose the Violence Against Women Act are saying that domestic violence in immigrant and LGBT communities is not a big deal, and these provisions are just attempts to give more rights to immigrants and to those identifying as LGBT. However, these expansions are responses to the National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs’ 2010 report,…
BREAKING: Utah governor vetoes abstinence-only bill- by AFY_EmilyB
Inside this post:
The new bill would have taken Utah from "sex education which discusses condoms and contraception but emphasizes abstinence" to "sex education which may not even broach the topic of contraception." It would be a change from "lots of moralizing with your info" to "no info."
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
Mar 17, 2012
Herbert has said he vetoed the bill because it requires that parents be given fewer options for their children’s education, and because most Utah parents currently allow their children to take sex education classes:
"If HB 363 were to become law, parents would no longer have the option the overwhelming majority is currently choosing for their children. I am unwilling to conclude that the state knows better than Utah’s parents as to what is best for their children," he said.
"In order for parents to take on more responsibility, they need more information, more involvement, and more choice—not less. I cannot sign a bill that deprives parents of their choice," he added.
This is good news out of Utah, whose state law around sex ed already contains restrictions and moral prescriptions. The new bill would have taken Utah from "sex education which discusses condoms and contraception but emphasizes abstinence" to "sex education which may not even broach the topic of contraception." It would be a change from "lots of moralizing with your info" to "no info."
Yet truly comprehensive sex education, which includes information about abstinence as well as contraception, isn’t inconsistent with conservative values and need not be mischaracterized as such: it does not advocate for students to engage in sexual activity, but rather provides factual information about various methods of protection from unintended pregnancy and STIs. Vetoing this bill was a good step for Utah. States should move toward sex education which recognizes young people’s rights and protects their health by providing non-biased, comprehensive, accurate information about sex, sexuality, and relationships.
Mar 15, 2012
Written by: Nicole Murray, Advocates for Youth Intern
A sarcastic twist on an old tactic – the poison pill amendment – is making rounds in state legislatures as opposition mounts to the ongoing assault on reproductive and sexual rights. The poison pill amendment, or the wrecking amendment, is an amendment proposed to a bill by someone who opposes the bill. This amendment is usually not something the legislator proposing the amendment would want in reality, but is proposed to give more room for debate, to post pone a vote on a bill, or, in cases where the amendment does get attached to the bill, ensure that no one would vote for the bill with the attached amendment.
Todays poison pills are aimed at exposing the sexism inherent in attempting to restrict women’s reproductive rights and freedoms, while still allowing men complete sexual freedom and control over their own bodies.
In addition to the ultrasound bill signed into law in Virginia, and the very possible return to abstinence-only education in Utah, here are some of the most recent stupid laws legislatures are considering.
Wisconsin: A Bill Making Non-Marital Parenthood Tantamount To Abuse
Senate bill 507, introduced by Senator Glenn Grothman, would update the states current Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention law to emphasize “non marital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” According to Grothman, “Whether that leads to more people paying attention and having children after they’re married or whether that leads to some other making a choice for adoptions,” he wanted to bring up this “politically incorrect” legislation, as he calls it.
In the past, Grotham has campaigned against programs that would make contraception and other health services that would lead to fewer unintended pregnancies. He recently wrote “How the United States and The State of Wisconsin Are Working to Encourage Single Motherhood and Discouraging Children in 2 Parent Families,” where he claims that the government tells women not to get married so they can receive low-income housing assistance, school choice, WIC, and food stamps.
The bill would create a public awareness campaign aimed at promoting the idea that raising a child out of wedlock (either as co-habitators, as a single parent, or as a committed LGBT couple) is abusive and neglectful to children. This public education campaign would specifically emphasis (read: demonize) single mothers, as it is supposed to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.” According to these legislators, without a man around, a woman will just abuse her children. (Never mind that there are many women who are single mothers due to fleeing abusive partners and spouses.)
According to Representative Chris Taylor:
“This bill is going to do nothing to help children avoid abuse. It’s going to do nothing to help families. What this bill does is call out and chastise women who have babies who are unmarried.”
The most recent numbers show that a third of all parents in Wisconsin are single parents, with the majority being single mothers. 90% of teen parents were unmarried at the birth of the child. In 2010 there were 25,228 non-marital teen births. Those mothers would all be demonized by this bill.
A side note: at 1:00 AM Wednesday March 14th, 2012, the Legislature passed AB337, which will repeal the Healthy Youth Act. The Healthy Youth Act was the gold standard in sex education. Now teens will be denied accurate medical information about preventing teen pregnancy and STIs. Will this lead to an increase in teen mothers? And therefore, according to this bill, an increase in neglectful and abusive non-marital parents? The legislature also passed AB154, which bans private insurance from covering abortion. If teens do find themselves pregnant, they will be forced to pay for an abortion out of pocked now. On Thursday they will be voting on AB371, which will ban telemedice abortion, meaning teens who choose abortion will not only have to pay for it out of pocket, rather than have it covered by their parents private insurance, but they will have to travel possibly hours to get to a clinic that can perform it. (Telemedicine is a way that residents of rural communities can get access to specialists and doctors without traveling out of their community. They talk to the doctor via video conference, like Skype, and then the doctor can determine if the patient can get the medicine. The doctor will hit a button, and unlock a drawer the patient has access to, and the patient will then take the pills in front of a nurse. This is a common way of administering many medicines, including RU-486, or Mifepristone, for a medical abortion).
Arizona: A Bill Making it Legal For A Doctor To Withhold Medical Information Concerning A Pregnancy If That Information Might Lead To The Woman Considering Abortion
In Arizona, SB1359 would allow doctors who personally oppose abortion to – well, not exactly lie – but withhold medical information from pregnant women if they think that information might lead to the woman considering abortion.
What information would this be? Information on possible birth defects the fetus may have, or does have; information on medical conditions that may lead to the woman’s death if an abortion is not obtained; and information on medical conditions the fetus may have that might lead to either a short and agonizing life after birth, or other quality of life conditions.
For women who may choose not to abort, withholding this information means that the family has no time to prepare to give birth to and raise a child with birth defects, and no time to attempt to find out if they have the financial resources to provide all the medical care the child might need.
Lesson to be learned: If a woman is seeking abortion, you must give her ALL the information by means of forcing her to have an ultrasound. If a woman is carrying a wanted pregnancy, make sure she has NO information that might cause her to change her mind about giving birth.
Side note of another bill in Arizona: HB2625, a bill to allow any religious employer to refuse to have insurance which covers contraception. In an earlier version of the bill, religious employer was defined as: ,
(a) The entity primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(b) The entity primarily serves persons who share the religious tenets of the entity.
(c) The entity is a nonprofit organization as described in section 6033(a)(2)(A) (i) or (iii) of the internal revenue code of 1986, as amended.
however, this definition was removed, leaving it undefined. Further, an earlier bill contained clause stating that “a religious employer shall not discriminate against an employee who independently chooses to obtain insurance coverage or prescriptions for contraceptives from another source.” This was also removed, giving the green light to religious employers to fire employees who use contraception.
Georgia: A Bill That Would Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks
In Georgia, HB 954 would ban abortion in the state after 20 weeks, based on the idea that at 20 weeks fetuses become “pain capable.” Most research states, however, that a fetus does not have the neurological systems in place to experience tough, and cannot distinguish between touch and pain (which is an emotional response) until much later in the third trimester, which is the time right before a woman would normally give birth.
Most abortions occur in the first trimester, so while this bill will not affect the majority of women seeking abortion, it will affect the women who find out about severe birth defects, complications, or that the fetus has died. Medical complications are usually not detectable until around the 18th to 19th week. At this point, further tests need to be done to confirm certain defects. With the new law, a woman who receives a bad indication would have just a few days to decide whether she wants to hope for the best, go forth with more testing, and chance that she might in fact be carrying a fetus incompatible with life, or should she abort while it is still legal, and try again? Women who have fetuses that have died would not be allowed to induce labor and deliver a stillbirth past 20 weeks, as this procedure would technically still be an abortion. Instead, if a fetus is stillborn, and it is 21 weeks, she will be forced to carry a stillborn fetus to term, rather than induce labor, mourn, and try again.
In a moment of extreme insensitivity, one Representative compared women carrying stillborn fetuses to cows he used to work with who delivered dead calves.
And here are some of the sarcastic responses:
Delaware: In Wilmingont, Delware, a bill was passed to grant every sperm and every egg personhood, and deem them equal under law.
Virginia: In Virginia, Senator Janet Howell proposed an amendment to the ultrasound bill which would have required rectal exams and cardiac stress tests for men wishing obtain medications for erectile dysfunction. The amendment was just two votes shy of passing.
Georgia: Female lawmakers in Georgia have proposed a bill that would ban men from obtaining vasectomies. The author of the bill, Yasmin Neal, said:
“"It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly, while women’s ability to decide is constantly up for debate throughout the United States."”
Ohio: A bill (SB307) proposed in Ohio by Senator Nina Turner would require men to receive a psychological screening performed by a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and present a notarized affidavit signed by a current sexual partner stating that the man is in fact impotent. It further states that the man must be notified in writing of the potential risks and complications of taking erectile dysfunction medications, and for a physician to include non-pharmaceutical treatments for erectile dysfunction, including resources for celibacy.
Illinois: Representative Kelly Cassidy proposed an amendment that would require a man seeking erectile dysfunction medications to watch a graphic video detailing the complications and treatments for complications that could arise from taking medication for erectile dysfunction.
Oklahoma: An amendment was proposed to a personhood bill that would make it illegal to ejaculate anywhere outside of a woman’s vagina, and another amendment that would require that any man who impregnates a woman without her consent pay a large fine, be required to obtain a vasectomy, and be financially responsible for the resulting offspring until he/she reaches 21 years of age.
Texas: While this bill (HB15) was passed last year and went into effect recently, there were still a number of amendments that women legislators attempted to tag on to the bill to show their displeasure. This specific bill does require a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking abortion care. Several amendments were attached (all failed) to the ultrasound bill, including an amendment that would require the state to pay for college tuition for any child born as a result of a pregnant woman viewing the ultrasound and changing her mind, an amendment of the state to pay health care costs for the resulting child until 18 years of age, (later amended to age 6), as well as a failed common sense amendment to provide the woman with medically accurate information on contraception, and an amendment to make the Department of Health pay for the mandatory ultrasounds, and later this amendment was re-written to require the state to pay for the ultrasound if the woman did not live within 45 minutes of the provider.
Mar 14, 2012
Wisconsin’s state legislature has passed a "sex education" bill that undoes many of the tenets in the more progressive 2010 bill, and it now moves on to Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to sign it. The new sex education law:
1) Transforms sex education "requirements" into "recommendations"
2) Removes the following topics from sex ed curriculum recommendations
"pregnancy; parenting; body image; gender stereotypes; and the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved by the federal Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to prevent pregnancy and barrier methods approved by the
FDA to prevent sexually transmitted infections"
3) Requires that students be taught that abstinence is the "preferred choice of behavior for unmarried pupils" and "the only reliable way to present pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections."
4) Requires the promotion of the socioeconomic benefits of marriage and the connection between marriage and good parenting.
In short, the bill takes Wisconsin’s requirement that sex education programs teach about contraception, and turns it into a requirement that they teach about abstinence.
Conservatives in Wisconsin have never liked 2010′s Healthy Youth Act. In fact, one county’s district attorney sent a letter to teachers of the district threatening to prosecute them if they taught comprehensive sex ed.
But while the new law isn’t a surprise, it’s certainly a disappointment. The removal of instruction about contraception is bad. But calling abstinence "the only reliable" means of prevention is simply a lie. Firstly, many methods of protection work and work well. The IUD is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, while condoms are "highly effective" at preventing the transmission of HIV, according to the CDC.
Secondly, reliability is largely dependent on the user. The user must RELIABLY USE a method. Abstinence is very reliable if you remain abstinent. Condoms are very reliable if you use them consistently and correctly. By removing information about other methods, and by implying that they are unreliable, the legislators are doing young people a severe disservice: they are endangering young people’s health and violating their rights.
Further, as we tried to communicate in this video, abstinence-only-until-marriage lessons at best exclude LGBT youth and at worst vilify them. Wisconsin has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, yet students will be taught that abstinence is the "preferred behavior" for unmarried students. Just….forever, Wisconsin? So it’s basically just a program of shaming for LGBT students - "stay abstinent" or "do wrong." That seems contrary to the section of the bill that cautions against bias against students on the basis of sexual orientation. And not to mention, almost half of high school students have already had sex, so it’s a program of shame for them too.
Finally, a "promotion of marriage" tenet is profoundly offensive and presumptuous. Why should that value be forced on students? In a nation where 50% of marriages fail and 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, how many of Wisconsin’s students will be taught that their families are subpar, inferior to the married-heterosexual parents their sex education teacher is so keen on? And why is promoting a particular type of relationship even an aspect of learning about sex and sexuality?
Students shouldn’t be misled, lied to, and stigmatized. They shouldn’t be denied information that could save their lives. This shame-based bill is shameful.
Mar 12, 2012
During undergrad I loved being a peer health educator and activist with Advocates for Youth. That love and passion for health promotion and advocacy led me to Ohio State to study public health. My specialization was Health Behavior and Health Promotion. I have had many friends and fellow Advocates for Youth organizers ask me about MPH programs and graduate school.
Well — here you have it folks! Here are my thoughts and advice on going to graduate school for public health!
Sexual health education is complicated, and prevention is hard work!
I came to graduate school knowing abstinence-only sex education did not improve student health outcomes. It violated the rights of students by promoting one set of pseudo-values while withholding life-saving information. In other words, comp sex ed good, ab-only bad.
Then I embarked on my graduate thesis, and boy did I learn the devil is in the details.
First off, these programs tend to be less discrete than abstinence-only-until-marriage and comprehensive sexual health education. Sexual health education programs have very specific goals, and are tailored for a specific population. For example, one program that a friend of my mine implements in Cleveland is called “Be Sex Smart.” It is targeted to LGBTQ youth with a high risk of HIV infection. The goal of the program is to improve self-esteem and decision-making. The operating theory here is that improving self-esteem and decision-making will decrease youths’ risk for HIV/AIDS.
This leads to another important point that I learned in graduate school. There is not strong evidence that sexual health education programs directly impact health outcomes such as teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infection rates. Instead, programs aim to improve factors that impact health outcomes, such as knowledge and self-efficacy. These factors in turn are chosen and prioritized because behavior change theories postulate that altering them will lead to improved health outcomes and behaviors.
For example, when I taught sexual health education in Cleveland schools, we tested the teens’ pre- and post-program sexual health knowledge. Our program was shown to improve student knowledge — therefore, based on behavior change theory, improvements in student knowledge resulted in improved student health outcomes. All of this also underscores the importance of program evaluation. To prove that a program is effective, it must be evaluated.
Even when programs are evidence- and theory-based, there can still be barrier to implementing your program effectively. Do you have a reliable and quiet space to hold your program? How much time do you have each week or day to implement the curriculum? How are you going to recruit participants? Does your organization have a sustainable funding model for your program? How will you recruit and train educators? The list goes on.
Working in prevention is tough yet highly rewarding. It takes courage, personality, and passion. While I found it frustrating that there was not more research on the impact of sexual health education, it was also exciting to realize there is still much work to be done. We could be the future researchers and program staff to develop new programs and implement them in communities across the country!
Social determinants of health matter, a lot
If you haven’t watched the PBS special “Unnatural Causes,” you will within the first week of your MPH program. Hell, you might even watch it twice. The series does a great job of introducing students to the concept of social determinants of health. As someone interested in health promotion and social justice, I was instantly drawn to studying social determinants of health. It is important to understand the huge impact social inequalities have on health outcomes. This is not a concept that comes naturally to all in the public health field. But to those of us with an interest in health promotion and social justice, this is where you might find an intersection in topics that excites and intrigues you.
Determine if you are a direct-service person or policy person
There is a big difference between working to implement policies that impact health and implementing programs that impact health. Find what you like. Both are important and have an impact on the health and lives of people, but the skills and personality needed to do each type of work are different. Graduate school is a time to explore and learn what you love to do. Try different things and push your boundaries. You might be surprised what work suites you best.
To get the biggest bang for your buck while studying public health, you need to find stellar sites for your internship and/or final project. Not only will the site agency create a space for you to get practical experience, but also the staff you work with at your site can be your best mentors. My internship supervisor taught me everything, and helped me land my dream job! Shoot for the moon when it comes to finding a good internship. Finding a good internship experience is the most important part of your graduate school professional development.
Professionally, follow your passion and always be true to yourself
Do what you love, not what sounds impressive. During graduate school I was offered a position as a research assistant on a colon cancer project. The position paid my tuition and I was part of a large research project funded by the CDC through a prestigious hospital. In public health speak that seemed glamorous. I ended up hating it. It wasn’t my passion. Then I started interning with Planned Parenthood and felt at home. While there is much to learn at school, at the end of the day you know why you came in the first place. Stick to your heart, and you will end up in the right place.
If you have any questions about graduate school, please feel free to reach out to me via Facebook message.
Mar 12, 2012
Garrett Mize [TFN Youth Coordinator] and me [President of the TFN Student Chapter at UTB]!
Saturday night was amazing! The Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at UT Brownsville organized an awareness show for comprehensive sex education. We organized the show at a historical building located in downtown Brownsville. The reason I decided to organize a show with local bands playing and outside of the university was because I wanted to attempt a different approach in informing people about comprehensive sex education. Well, it worked fantastically! There were many high school students, college students, and older people. Many signed petitions and many took condoms. Most important, many recognized the severity of the issue [the rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases] and understood what must be done in order to solve the problem.
All in all, the show was a great success. The atmosphere was so energetic and positive because people came with an open mind. They left informed and with free condoms and awesome tunes.
I want to thank Mark Clark for allowing us to have our event at the Galeria 409 and Friday Avenue, Los Cuervos, Cutters, Force of Habit, Tzu Gardens, and RFC for making the show even more awesome! Special shoutouts go to Lorenzo Garcia, Omar Avitia, Rene Daracon, Dustin Sanchez and the UTPA crew [Jackie Joy] for helping us out. Alexis Manrique, you did a fantastic job! Lastly, I want to thank my youth coordinator, Garrett Mize for supporting this event and everything the TFN Student Chapter at UT Brownsville does. We could not have done this without all of your help. And thanks to everyone who came out!!! I hope we can continue to make change in Brownsville because we sure do need it.
Mar 10, 2012
March 10th is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – a time to educate, include and empower communities across the country about the impact that HIV and AIDS has had on women and girls.
This year’s theme is “Every Moment is a Deciding Moment” to show that you are greater than this disease and you have empowered yourself and your community to get educated, get involved, get treated.
Women have been hit hard by this disease and now it is time for us to confront it head on.
So on March 10th we are asking that you join the movement with these steps:
#1: Bring Awareness on your Social Media Networks.
Step 1: Change your Facebook Profile Picture:
Step 3: Retweet Retweet to #NWGHAAD
#2: Support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a comprehensive, progressive vision for sex education policy in the United States.
Step 1: Click here to sign the petition (h)
Step 2: Blast the petition link to all your friends:
Step 3: Share this petition to your facebook and twitter accounts
#3: Get Tested
Step 2: Get tested for HIV and know your status!
Mar 8, 2012
On Tuesday, March 7th, the Utah State Senate voted to remove abstinence-plus education from school curriculum, and replace it with abstinence-only-until-marriage. The bill, HR363, sponsored by Senator Margaret Dayton, passed 19-10, and is currently sitting on Governor Gary Herbert’s desk. This bills is worded in such a way that school districts do not have to offer sex education, but if they do, it must not mention contraception, homosexuality, or pre-marital sex.
According to Rebecca Wind, a spokeswoman for the Guttmacher Institute;
"Utah is by far the most restrictive policy out there. There are no other states that … don’t allow birth control discussion at all, in the way that the Utah legislation does. So it is unique in that respect."
The policy prohibits teachers from talking about sex outside of marriage (be it pre-marital or extra-marital), homosexuality, and methods of preventing pregnancy or spreading STD’s even when asked directly by students.
Supporters laud the passage of the bill as a crucial component of the ongoing culture wars in the country;
"It is important for us to go a step further from abstinence-plus to abstinence-only so that the state Office of Education can remove the endorsement of Planned Parenthood from their website," Sen. Margaret Dayton
(Note: Sen. Dayton is opposed to abortion, and as a result, Planned Parenthood. There are nine Planned Parenthood health centers in the state of Utah. One of them provides abortion services.)
According to Rep. Francis Gibson, unintended teen pregnancy is still a problem in the district he represents, and the curriculum in the district, which is abstinence-only, is not working.
"I would hope as we make this decision, that we won’t think if we say abstinence only, that fairy dust will have been sprinkled and that teen pregnancy will no longer be a problem," –Rep Francis Gibson
Opponents of the bill pointed out that this could lead to higher rates of teen pregnancy, and therefore, higher rates of abortion. Supporters opined that the only way to prevent teen pregnancy was with abstinence. Comprehensive sex education (or abstinence-plus) arms teens and students with the information they need in order to ensure that when they do engage in sex, they are protected against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
Supporters of this bill seem to think that teens are not having sex, and often promote harmful and damaging stereotypes that teen mothers. Young people have sex, and this is not something new. It wasn’t too long ago that women were married by sixteen, and pregnant by seventeen. The difference between those teen moms, and todays, is the marital status of the women. The teen mothers of today are not married. Current research has found that the median age for first sexual experience for both sexes is 17 years old, while the current average age of first marriage for women is roughly 25 years old, and for men around 27 years old. The gap between first sex and marriage is roughly 10 years. Today, premarital sex is a near ubiqutous practice. Therefore, we need education that reflects this reality. That education should include discussion of contraception, sexuality, and healthy relationships both in and out of marriage, orientation and gender identity.
Young people of today need to be trusted. Adults do not need to withhold information from students. Trust young people to take that information and do with it what they feel is most appropriate for themselves.
Research shows that when you teach comprehensive sex education, teens actually delay the onset of first sexual experiences, and are more likely to take steps to make sure that the sex they are engaging in, when they do, is healthy and safe.
Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are framed around upholding a standard that is unfairly harmful to women, and to teens who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, genderqueer, or are questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In these classes women are told their value is lost with virginity, and that they must hold themselves up to a standard of purity. Rarely do these classes mention the necessity of sexual purity for men. Many of these courses include lessons aimed at making sure women know they are the gatekeepers of sexuality, that they are the ones who have to hold off the advances of men. Some of these courses include books that portray women as damsels in distress, and men as knights. These books warn that if a woman gives too much advice or has too many opinions, the knight will feel unneeded, and leave.
LGBTQ students find the messages of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to be filled with heteronormative messages of male providers and women care takers, with no room for relationships where these “norms” are absent, and no mention the validity of same sex households and marriages. Utah is not one of the few states where marriage equality is legal, and these students are being told to remain abstinent if they do not plan on marrying a person of the opposite gender. They are told their relationships and their own sexual health needs are less than.
In a strange coincidence, a study released yesterday, finds “that formal sex education
that includes instruction about both waiting to have sex and methods of birth control can improve the health and well-being of adolescents and young adults” The study further found that respondents who were instructed in both abstinence and contraceptive methods were more likely to be older at their first sexual experience than those who had received no formal instruction at all (which this bill would allow schools to have no instruction at all). Those receiving both information about abstinence and contraceptive education were also more likely to have healthier relationships. Condom use at first sexual experience was highest among respondents who had instruction in both, too.
This study proves that when you give the tools to young people, they will make the best decisions for themselves. Being honest and open about sexuality is the best approach. Preaching about abstinence will not stop anyone from having sex if they want to. If someone wants to have sex, they should have all the knowledge they need to make a healthy decision about the sex for both their own health, and their partners health. It is detrimental to the health of young people to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that if we with hold valuable information about contraception and condoms, then young people will not have sex.
Feb 28, 2012
Did you know that African Americans account for only 14 percent of the U.S. population but make up almost half of all newly diagnosed HIV cases each year? This is an alarming rate and it is stumping advocates as to why this is happening. Poverty is one of the things believed to be fueling the epidemic and in African American communities, poverty rates are higher than other communities. Poverty affects all parts of life, impacting housing, education, nutrition and access to health care. When tackling issues such as worrying for your next meal or how rent will be paid on a regular basis, there is no surprise that getting educated on HIV is not at the top of the list.
On top of these issues, the budget cuts are causing state-run family-planning clinics to shut down so people have no place to go for regular checkups, to learn about their bodies and how to keep themselves healthy. Not to mention there is health illiteracy. There are a shocking number of blacks who cannot use written materials in the health care settings. HIV/AIDS is not just a “gay man disease.” It is a deadly, color blind disease and everyone is vulnerable.
You have to be concerned for your health and take the necessary precautions. You should:
1. Practice safe sex during EVERY sexual encounter.
2. Get screened every three to six months for undiagnosed and untreated cases of STDs and engage in partner notification services if you are diagnosed with an STD.
3. Get comprehensive sex education from a clinic and be open and honest about sex with your partner or children.
Feb 22, 2012
While I was in my eighth standards at my school, many HIV/AIDS awareness and sex education programs were conducted. Our seniors, students of grade 9 and 10 were taken and we had to sit in our class and follow the class routine. I had once asked my teacher why we aren’t taken to attend the program. Then my teacher answered saying that it is only applicable for seniors not for you. I used to think that sex education was all about safe sexual practices, enjoyable age for involving in sex and marriage. I had heard people talking about HIV/AIDS and used to be a taboo for us to utter the word. Now as I grow old, I come to know that it was not just about safe sexual practice, enjoyable age for involving in sex and marriage but also to help protect you against abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Every time while we used to study about development and changes that occur in our body during adolescent and attractions towards opposite sexes, we used to laugh and giggle. Not only the student, teachers used to feel awkward and they used to skip the chapter saying that once we read at home we can understand ourselves. But I was more concerned about the things why we have changes and why do people don’t talk about all this freely. I used to read different articles in newspaper, read magazines and talk with friends to know more about sexuality. When I talked freely, others used to feel and say that I should have some shame as a girl to talk on the issues like this. I used to fear to talk to my parents about it and elders. They think that exposure on these things will encourage us more into sexual experimentation.
Sex education is a mandatory for every individual since teenage as it is a part of our life. It helps young people to prepare for healthy and fulfilling lives. Good knowledge, skills and attitudes help them to make choices in the future and enhance their independence and self-esteem. Moreover, it also helps them to experience their sexuality and relationships in a positive and pleasurable way. People have a wrong concept about exposure to sexual activity, but the fact is that they are aware and can practice it safely. Apart from that, some researches have proved that good and rights-based sexuality education programmes can delay initiation of sexual activity and unprotected intercourse, decrease the number of sexual partners, increase contraceptive and condom use which leads to decrease in unintended pregnancies, sexual problems and sexually transmitted infections among young people. It is important for an individual to understand rather than learn from experiencing. It is the high time, people must understand that sexuality education does not encourage people for sexual practices and promote messages about abstinence rather it helps them to understand their rights and take care of themselves.
Feb 6, 2012
Venue: CDC, Sanothimi, Bhaktapur, Nepal.
Date: 20th January, 2012.
Time: 1 pm.
Members of Youth Activist Leadership council (YALC), 2012, had a visit to Curriculum Development Center (CDC) according to their 5th day schedule. The iYSO project coordinator, Miss Medha Sherma, 10 members of council, Miss Subha Kayastha along with their Project Manager from US, Miss Mimi Melles, had a visit at above mentioned venue. The visit was concerned mainly on achieving the information and basic understanding on curriculum making process. The formed enthusiastic, dynamic and diversified council has their one main objective as amending the EPH curriculum to be age appropriate and comprehensive. Targeting youth, to have access on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR), council had taken its first step on basic understanding of the present EPH syllabus in Nepal approaching CDC.
YUWA had organized meeting with Mr. Damodar Regmi, section officer, Department of Education. After sharing the objectives of the council, he encouraged council to visit Executative Director, Mr. Khajraj Baral, who mainly works at amending curriculum on globally prioritized issues. With his warm welcome, he praised the role of YALC. On behalf of aim of visit, Baral suggested council members to have basic overview on present curriculum before they move for their workshop. He had reminded others as well, who come up with similar global issues to be focused on curriculum. Mr. Baral added, “In this present world of science and technology we have much better course than other nations, even than Finland, which has best curriculum among OECD countries”. “We don’t want to make more load on child, mentally and physically, there is enough content for their future”, said Baral. He told course was changing since 2028 B.S., and there were significant changes in context to global issues. “Focusing on slow and step by step motivation in Education, we are encouraging SRH issues through optional subjects also, but that’s the culture which defines future for competing with others, choosing Math and computer rather than Health” , addressed by Baral on members’ queries.
Mr. Baral approved his affirmative views on changing curriculum according to need, but he signaled the basic barriers before the change like: political commitment, recourses shortage (man, money, materials, and methods), burning issues of other fields (Global warming, Human Rights, Child Friendly Environment, law based knowledge, conflicts, agriculture, etc.), societal norms and culture, unpaid tax, transitional phase of the country, etc. On the same session he prioritized the sex education according to age, but the internet had influence to meet these goals easily. Teachers training and guardians guidance plays an important role in establishing the better environment besides only including SRHR issues in curriculum. The weakness in knowing the world, that CDC is updating curriculum in every 5 years, and revising its curriculum in every 10 years. Furthermore he told they were changing facts, figures and data annually.
CDC is on process of changing curriculum of class 7 by 15th Marg 2068 B.S. At this stand he added that curriculum revision is a long process that involves learning from different national and international issues, age appropriateness, resources, working environment, etc. According to Mr. Baral curriculum development process goes through following phases:
1. Situational analysis and feedback from students, teachers. Study on international curriculum development process and its content.
2. Comparisons between existing curriculum and international syllabus involving high level expertise.
3. Draft completion.
4. Conducting review process involves teachers, topic related specialist, skilled human resource from related field, individuals from CDC and researchers.
5. Development of curriculum.
6. Certification from subject committee.
7. Coordination committee review:
Vertically- compare with other classes like class 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
Horizontally- comparison among contents of the subjects like
Science, mathematics, Social Studies, etc.
8. Goes through council meetings and their valid certification.
9. Finally, passed by Government of Nepal through parliament.
On queries of YALC members, Mr. Baral answered them all establishing a diplomatic relationship. Focusing on gender sensitization issues amendment is only possible by the combined effort from Political, Societal, Economical, Academic and other’s sectors. Besides amending the course, Nepal has already the gist of content on SRH issues, but unfortunately teachers are escaping these topics. On the question from member, that the SRH issues should be focused by increasing total marks in exam point of view, Mr. Baral replied every issue plays a vital role in development of a child. There were other issues, which secures the future.
Every agenda make a link with life, so everyone asks for including issues related to their field. It seems like he had lack of knowledge on SRHR issues, distinct voice youth’s choice. However, everyone should understand HEALTH IS WEALTH; this is only possible through health promoting education. Finally, he concluded defining Nepalese, “Nepal is a poor country containing rich Nepalese”. Thus, YALC members had learnt the ongoing system on developing curriculum. It’s a challenge over them to challenge the global challenging challenge.
Feb 4, 2012
Everything is bigger in Texas…. including STI and teen pregnancy rates. AIDs has spread as well due to one of the many BIG problems in Texas… sexual education in schools. Texas lags in this area as abstinence only programs still run rampant in this glorious red state of ours! Studies have shown that Abstinence only programs are not effective. While some may feel it is important to highlight the importance of waiting to have sex til marriage, this approach has negatively affected Texan children. They are being robbed of reality, that a lot of them will have sex by the time they graduate and will need to know how to protect themselves. Comprehensive sexual education is not some new idea that liberals have thought of, it’s working elsewhere (other states and other countries at that). Sadly Texas is strongly against premarital sex and feel that abstinence only programs will further their cause. Well… they don’t! This is what prompted this group of UT Longhorns to advocate this cause. Adolescent and young adult reproductive health is so important to us and while we are new and fledglings compared to other student orgs that have been at this school for 30, 40 or even 80 years, we plan to make ourselves known. While UT Austin is probably one of the most liberal colleges in Texas it is still quite conservative. With this we know our advocating comprehensive sex education in local schools and the promotion of safe sex practice (both straight AND LGBTQ!) will be an uphill battle, but it’s a cause worth fighting for. On this blog we will try our best to chronicle all of the events we do to promote such an important cause for America’s future!
Feb 3, 2012
You may recall that Jamie Lynn Spears, child actress and sister of Britney Spears, shocked her fans in 2007 when she announced that she was pregnant. This week, Jamie Lynn has an essay in Glamour Magazine describing her experiences, and it’s really worth reading. Even though she leads a fairly privileged life, her experience is in many ways similar to many teens’ experiences and speaks to a lot of sad truths about our culture.
Right up front Spears says:
Casey was my first love. Since the day I saw him, I just wanted to marry him and be with him forever and ever. I believe in safety and birth control as prevention. But like many young girls…I was really scared to go to the doctor.
1) Teens aren’t "hormonal monsters" or whatever: most have their first sex with someone they’re in a relationship with. Like the rest of us, they feel love and affection, and want to express that affection romantically.
2) Many know about birth control and believe in it as prevention. But something stops them from seeking it out – fear. Fear of lack of confidentiality and of judgement. Fear of being found out – because being found out as sexually active would be shameful. It’s a direct line from shame about sexuality, to unintended pregnancy.
Later, after learning she was pregnant:
I did feel responsible for the young girls and the mothers who I probably confused and let down. I apologize for that. But I wasn’t trying to glamorize teen pregnancy. I hated when [the tabloids] said that.
She’s not lying about being villainized. Everyone had something to say about the matter. But tell me, how would becoming pregnant let American girls and mothers down? And what does "glamorizing teen pregnancy," a charge that seems to be repeated whenever a pregnant teen expresses excitement about motherhood, has a baby shower, or is seen smiling at any time, mean? Jamie Lynn had sex with someone she loved and with whom she was in a long term relationship, and became pregnant accidentally. She decided to become a mother. What was she supposed to do, dress in black and parade the streets crying "Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa"? The very notion of "shaming" or "glamorizing" a person’s pregnancy is absurd and offensive. Unintended pregnancy, while not ideal, happens – in fact, it happens 50 percent of the time, so I’m not sure what folks are on their high horses about.
Later, commenting on her daugher Maddie, she says:
It’d be dumb to sit here and say that Maddie isn’t going to like a boy one day and she isn’t going to have a boyfriend. I’ll just have to handle that the best way that I can. Both her daddy and me will caution her [about having sex], and I would hope that she would not want to do that at all, but I have to make sure that I’m realistic too. I’ve got to figure out a way to communicate to her to make smart choices and make the best decisions she can.
I find this passage is a little bittersweet. "I would hope that she would not want to do that at all" : denial springs eternal. The culture that shaped Jamie Lynn as a teen will shape her as a parent, and like all too many parents in America, she will probably bring shame and denial about sex to the table, when as we know, honesty and acceptance leads to better outcomes. By talking about realism, at least she’s acknowledging that empowering teens to protect themselves from pregnancy and HIV/STIs should be a priority for parents. But that’s really not enough. We can’t keep living with this culture of shame and fear around teen sexuality, we can’t keep framing sex as "this terrible thing that God forbid you do, though if you do it be sure to use condoms." And then we can’t keep vilifying teen mothers. As a culture we need to start embracing pragmatic attitudes and policies – from comprehensive sex education, to youth friendly clinics and services, to programs which support all teens, including teen parents.
Jan 30, 2012
In Friday’s Washington Post, Christina Hoff ommers questioned CDC findings on sexual violence. Calling the study "careless" and saying it relies on "the familiar jargon of feminist theory," Sommers even puts the word sexism in distasteful air quotes, as in, "the report also called for more research on ‘sexism.’"
Sommers takes issue with the phasing of the CDC’s question about sexual assault:
In a telephone survey with a 30 percent response rate, interviewers did not ask participants whether they had been raped. Instead of such straightforward questions….[the sample was asked] “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?” A majority of the 1.3 million women (61.5 percent) the CDC projected as rape victims in 2010 experienced this sort of “alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.”
What does that mean? If a woman was unconscious or severely incapacitated, everyone would call it rape. But what about sex while inebriated? Few people would say that intoxicated sex alone constitutes rape.
So, first of all, I don’t think the CDC was unclear in its phrasing. It’s asking sample participatns if they were too drunk or high to consent. Only they can answer that. And in its sexual violence toolkit, the CDC is again quite clear on the topic:
What is meant by “alcohol/drug facilitated penetration”?
This represents times when a victim was sexually penetrated but they were unable to consent to it because they were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out from alcohol or drugs. This includes times when a perpetrator intentionally drugged or spiked the drink of a victim but without the victim’s knowledge, and cases where the victim may have voluntarily used alcohol or drugs, but the perpetrator took advantage of the victim when they were too intoxicated, high, or passed out to consent to sex. (Emphasis mine)
But it’s this comment from Sommers that I’m more troubled by:
The CDC effectively set a stage where each step of physical intimacy required a notarized testament of sober consent.
No, they don’t set that stage, and Sommers knows they don’t. What the CDC has done is ask women if they were raped. They include "Someone had sex with you when you were too inebriated to consent" as a definition of rape.
But what Sommers is really attacking isn’t a specific CDC question, it’s attempts to normalize enthusiastic consent – a culture where what "sex" means is that both parties discussed what would happen ahead of time, and communicated throughout the experience, changing what they were doing as needed – including stopping if they weren’t totally sure the other person wanted it.
I’ve heard snide comments like hers many times — beginning in 1993, with Antioch College’s famous dating policy. At the time it was greeted with mockery. The very notion of having to ask each time you did anything! In 2006, Gettysburg College’s sexual misconduct policy (in short, "Effective consent is informed, freely and actively given, using mutually understandable words or actions which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity") was also met with indignation.
But what is so funny, what is so absurd, about requiring mutual consent? In this article about good sex education, Al Vernacchio brings up a "pizza metaphor" to encourage good communication around sex:
“If you’re gonna have pizza with someone else, what do you have to do?” he continued. “You gotta talk about what you want. Even if you’re going to have the same pizza you always have, you say, ‘We getting the usual?’ Just a check in. And square, round, thick, thin, stuffed crust, pepperoni, stromboli, pineapple — none of those are wrong; variety in the pizza model doesn’t come with judgment."
He’s talking about decision-making around sex, but it extends to mutual consent as well: before you get a pizza, you both have to agree you want pizza. And you have to discuss several other points as well. You have to check in.
When people make that "Better call a lawyer before you make out with someone these days" joke, what I hear is "Having to ask someone before you do something sexual with them is silly/burdensome/wrong." Tell me this: How does spreading that attitude help the "real victims of sexual violence" Sommers is so concerned about?
I think people mock "enthusiastic consent" model because they liked the old way, where boys insisted and girls resisted. Where you teach that both parties must enthusiastically consent, you are saying that women have to say what they want or do not want out of sex. And if there’s one thing social conservatives can’t handle, it’s a sexually empowered woman.
Jan 27, 2012
By: Lauren Kalina, Advocates for Youth Intern
On January 10th, the UN released their Zero Draft for the Rio+20 Conference. The Rio+20 Conference is the sobriquet for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). It is being hosted in Brazil this summer to mark the 20th anniversary of 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED.) The conference will focus on the facilitation of sustainable development in the context of today’s society.
While the Zero Draft is an important beginning to outlining needs and priorities for the upcoming conference, there is an important aspect of sustainable development that the draft seems to have forgotten: the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.
Young people play a crucial role in advocating and organizing around the intersection of environmental sustainability and reproductive rights. An example of this is The Time is Now Campaign, which addresses several of these intersection points, such as: population maintenance, contraception and family planning services, HIV/AIDS prevention, natural resources management, sex education, and more.
Last November when civil society organizations had the opportunity to submit suggestions for the Zero Draft, Advocates for Youth, along with several other organizations, provided a statement with a number of recommendations, which were as follows:
• Make sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly among youth, a sectoral priority to renew commitments from governments, the private sector, and civil societies.
• Invest in rights and evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services to support young people’s ability to make informed responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
• Challenge the global architecture of climate change, and its technology focus, and shift the discussion to a more human rights-based adaptation approach. Such a strategy would better serve the range of issues pivotal to improving the health of women worldwide and thus helping lead to a sustainable future.
• Ensure meaningful youth participation in the planning, design, and implementation of program and policies, especially those relevant to SRHR, climate change, and sustainable development.
While the Zero Draft fails to include any of these recommendations, the UNCSD did address some other important topics such as youth, gender equality, and access to education—areas that are central to ensuring the health and prosperity of developing countries. For example, the Zero Draft stated:
“We support the work of UN Women in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in all aspects of life and bringing greater attention to the linkages between gender equality and the promotion of sustainable development.”
“We agree to promote education for sustainable development beyond the end of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in 2014, to educate a new generation of students in the values, key disciplines and holistic, cross-disciplinary approaches essential to promoting sustainable development.”
While these clauses are significant and I applaud their inclusion, the absence of language highlighting the importance of youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of environmental sustainability really upsets me. We are the largest generation of young people in history; and as activists and leaders for a greener and healthier world, it’s critical that supporting our sexual and reproductive health and rights becomes part of discussions and strategies that nations are pursuing towards achieving environmental sustainability and overall development goals.
However, we should not become discouraged by this preliminary document – this is, after all, just the zero draft. I hope that now, as the intersessional meeting on the Zero Draft comes to a close today in New York, the UNCSD leaders will realize the importance of this missing piece about the sexual and reproductive health and rights of youth and make an effort to include it in future drafts.
Jan 26, 2012
Even though Rick Santorum’s recent comments about abstinence lessons in education have been roundly denounced as false, even by the head of one of the programs he was referring to, he’s still sticking to that whole "Obama hates abstinence" line.
I’ve addressed before how profoundly untrue it is the claim that comprehensive sex education doesn’t teach abstinence. (The new National Sexuality Education Standards name it as an necessary component of the lesson at 17 different points of a child’s education!).
I don’t particularly understand the comment that not having abstinence-only programs leads people into poverty, not just because I don’t think sex automatically leads to poverty, but because abstinence-only programs don’t work, not even at helping teens remain abstinent. As to the President hating poor people, well, I’m not in his head, but it seems unlikely.
I’m still not sure where Santorum is trying to go with all these claims, but rest assured that it comes down to a deep fear of sexuality. Some people on the far right would simply rather have teens receive programs that don’t help them at all, than have them receive programs that do work and also empower them to control their own sexuality.
Jan 20, 2012
A new study from the CDC examined unintended pregnancies among teens, and found that half of teens who were sexually active but didn’t want to become pregnant, were not using contraception.
Why weren’t they using contraception? Some of the findings are troubling:
- Thirty percent believed they could not become pregnant at the time (even though about 90 percent of sexually active teens using no method become pregnant within a year of having sex)
- 25 percent didn’t use contraception because they believed their partner didn’t want to use contraception.
- 13 percent reported lack of access to contraception.
Furthermore, 45% of the teens who became pregnanct were using hormonal birth control or condoms. Since with proper use, pills are over 90% effective and condoms are 80% effective, this points to irregular or incorrect use of the method.
Misunderstanding of the possibility of pregnancy, lack of access to contraception, an inability to negotiate contraceptive use, and a tendency to use contraception sporadically or incorrectly: all symptoms of the mixed messages and embarrassed silence teens absorb about sexuality, both from sex education still dominated by abstinence-only funding and its legacy, and from a culture that both glorifies and vilifies teen sexuality.
A comparison to European rates of teen pregnancy, sexual behavior, and contraception use is especially revealing: teens in France, Germany, and the Netherlands aren’t less likely to have sex, but they are far less likely to become pregnant and far more likely to be using hormonal contraception. That’s the result of both public policy, and a cultural committment to honest communication around sexuality.
Most teens do not want to become pregnant. Society should be empowering them to keep those intentions, not throwing up roadblocks.
Jan 19, 2012
by Jamie Newton
Don’t get me wrong: I am elated that national sexuality standards have come to the table — and more excited that they amount to more than: “don’t do it or you’ll die.” As joyous as I was to read about the release of these all over the web last week and as awesome as it was to see a dialogue about sexuality spread through the public sphere, I couldn’t help but feel something is wrong.
Every article and blog I read seemed to be missing half the point. In highlighting what young people need to learn according to the new standards, they had drawn examples like, “describe common symptoms of and treatments for STDs” and “define sexual harassment and sexual abuse.”
Not a single article I read mentioned the new standards teach healthy relationships, identity, and sexuality. Even when praising the release of more comprehensive sex education standards, the media coverage was still zoning in only on the dangers taught in the new standards.
We have to stop teaching and talking about sex as a danger. Can it be? Absolutely. But sexuality is also good, beautiful, and positively powerful as well. Isn’t that what we should be teaching and talking about? Shouldn’t we be focused on increasing our youth’s experiences with the most positive aspects and decreasing their experiences with the negative?
I applaud the efforts of everyone who worked on these new standards, and I am so grateful it was done by people who traditionally believe sexuality is not a scary or dangerous thing, but an innate, gorgeous part of the human identity. I think they did something incredibly novel for our times: composed a way to teach sexuality without concentrating on risks. That is why this is newsworthy.
Sexuality can be more than how it’s being taught in most places now — more healthy, more beautiful, more meaningful. The new national sexuality education standards are a step in the right direction — not because they teach the risks of sexuality done "wrong," but because they teach the benefits and beauty of sexuality done "right." The next step is creating an environment outside of the classroom that embraces sexuality as a positive aspect of society too. How awesome will it be when an entire generation receives and transmits that positive message?
Jan 10, 2012
The National Sexuality Education Standards, released this week, attempt to change all that, providing clear, consistent, and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum,core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades Kindergarten through grade 12.
Advocates for Youth is part of the Future of Sex Education (FoSE) Initiative, the team that developed the standards. Based on on both what science has proven and what every child has the right to learn, and modeled on the National Health Education Standards, the National Sexuality Education Standards focus on seven topics as the minimum, essential content and skills for K–12 education: Anatomy and Physiology, Puberty and Adolescent Development, Identity, Pregnancy and Reproduction, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV, Healthy Relationships, and Personal Safety.
It’s hoped that the standards will help school districts identify areas in which sex education might be lacking and fill in the gaps for their students. One example where many schools are failing is homophobic bullying. From the Associated Press:
Despite awareness of bullying, for example, Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth, one of the groups involved with creating the standards, said some schools don’t address it — or at least not in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, which is where she said a lot of the bullying occurs.
"They should tackle it head on," Hauser said.
You can tweet or post the link on Facebook: http://www.futureofsexed.org/fosestandards.html
You can blog about them here on Amplify or on your own blog.
Or if you want to go deeper, you can start organizing to support comprehensive sex education.
Widespread adoption of the National Sexuality Education Standards is one step toward achieving the Three R’s vision for youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. Click through to learn more about the Standards.
Questions and Answers about the National Sexuality Education Standards
How Is Sexuality Education Being Defined in the National Sexuality Education Standards?
The National Sexuality Education Standards recognize sexuality education as a broad term that includes a range of topic areas that impact a person’s sexual health and well-being. Although it has historically focused on sexual behaviors and the potential outcomes of those behaviors, in its more comprehensive form, sexuality education is about much more than that. The topic areas included in the National Sexuality Education Standards are:
• Anatomy and Physiology
• Puberty and Adolescent Development
• Pregnancy and Reproduction
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV
• Healthy Relationships
• Personal Safety
Why Provide Sexuality Education In Public Schools?
The vast majority of young people in Kindergarten through twelfth grade in the United States attend public schools. As a result, these schools provide a logical venue for reaching the greatest number of young people possible with life-enhancing, life-saving sexuality information.
Years of research demonstrate the need for providing sexuality education in public school settings:
• Many comprehensive sex education programs help youth delay the onset of sexual activity, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase condom and contraceptive use.
• Teens who received comprehensive sexuality education were 50 percent less likely to report getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy .
• Because so much bullying and harassment takes place in schools, it is imperative that school-based sexuality education address sexual orientation and combating harassment and bullying. Nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) students report being harassed in school. LGBT students who report frequent harassment also suffer from lower grade point averages.
• Similarly, teen relationship violence continues to be a pressing problem. Although frequently under-reported, ten percent of teens are physically harmed by their boyfriend
or girlfriend in a given year. Much of teen dating behavior is played out within the school environment, and therefore the topic areas of communication, healthy relationships, boundary setting, respect and others must be included in school-based sexuality education programming.
• Parents nationwide overwhelmingly support comprehensive sexuality education in public schools.
What Are Educational Standards?
• Educational standards define the knowledge and skills young people need to know in specific topic areas by the end of specific grades. They offer guidance to members of a school district, including teachers and administrators, on understanding what content and skills are age-appropriate at these grade levels.
• Many classroom topic areas have voluntary national education standards, including English Language Arts, History, Science, Mathematics and Health.
• The National Health Education Standards (NHES) were developed to establish, promote and support health-enhancing behaviors for students from grades pre-K -12. Nearly 75 percent of states require districts to follow national or state health education standards.
• When sexuality education is provided in school, it is usually part of the health curriculum. The National Health Education Standards, therefore, heavily influenced the development of the National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12.
Why Are Educational Standards Needed For Sex Education?
Although sexuality education is most frequently taught within the health curriculum, the National Health Education Standards do not provide any guidance on how to teach specific topics, including human sexuality. How sexuality education is taught is determined locally, and outlined in each school district’s curriculum.
• Currently, the manner in which sexuality education is provided in schools is determined by individual school districts or instructors. The National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K–12 provide sound guidance from educational experts across various disciplines on the minimum core sexuality-related knowledge and skills appropriate to each developmental level in a young person’s life.
• Educational standards help determine whether students have learned what they need to know in order to progress through school and into their futures successfully.
• Although the vast majority of school districts around the country have adopted the National Health Education Standards, these standards provide only general guidance without focusing on specific content areas, including sexuality education.
Who Developed These Standards?
• The National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12 are being disseminated in partnership with the American Association of Health Education, the American School Health Association, the National Education Association–Health Information Network, and the Society of State Leaders of Health and Physical Education.
• Over 50 professionals representing a wide range of schools, school districts, educational organizations and more, contributed to development of the standards, which was a project of the Future of Sex Education (FoSE) initiative.
What Topic Areas Were Selected for the National Sexuality Education Standards?
Topic areas covered in the National Sexuality Education Standards reflect the essential, minimum core content and skills students need to learn by the end of specific grades. They were not designed to be truly comprehensive in scope, but to offer a baseline from which school districts can begin.
The topic areas included in the National Sexuality Education Standards are:
• Anatomy and Physiology
• Puberty and Adolescent Development
• Pregnancy and Reproduction
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV
• Healthy Relationships
• Personal Safety
How Were These Specific Topic Areas Selected?
• The content for the National Sexuality Education Standards were informed by the National Health Education Standards, the work of the CDC’s Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) , existing state and international education standards that include sexual health content and the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade .
• The vast majority of schools that provide some kind of sexuality education limit their course offerings to pregnancy and STD/HIV prevention. Yet most professionals agree that just covering these topics is not enough to support young people’s healthy development. The National Sexuality Education Standards were designed to provide guidance in addressing the essential, minimum core content for sexuality education that is age-appropriate for students in grades K—12.
How Was Age-Appropriateness Determined for the National Sexuality Education Standards?
• The age-appropriateness of the content and skills of the National Sexuality Education Standards was informed by the National Health Education Standards, the work of the CDC’s Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) , existing state and international education standards that include sexual health content and the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade . In addition, guidance was also provided by over 50 experts in the fields of education, health, child and adolescent development and sexuality education.
How Should School Districts and Departments of Education Use These Standards?
The National Sexuality Education Standards represent the core, minimum content and skills for students grades K-12. School districts can use them in the following ways:
• School districts providing no sexuality education can consider them a roadmap for creating a scope and sequence that is based in available research and health behavior theories.
• School districts already providing some sex education, but seeking to expand the grade levels at which it is taught, can use the standards as guidance for age-appropriateness, particularly for students of younger ages.
• School administrators and curriculum supervisors can use the standards to outline what, based on research and extensive professional expertise, are the minimum, essential content and skills for sexuality education K–12 given student needs, limited teacher preparation and typically available time and resources.
• Schools can use the standards as a roadmap for designing and delivering sexuality education K–12 that is planned, sequential and part of a comprehensive school health education approach.
• The standards offer teachers and administrators clear, concise recommendations for school personnel on what is age-appropriate to teach students at different grade levels.
• The standards remove the guesswork from creating a sexuality education scope and sequence that is age- and developmentally-appropriate by translating an emerging body of research related to school-based sexuality education to ensure that it is evidence-informed and theory-driven.
How Do the National Sexuality Education Standards Support Parents?
• The National Sexuality Education Standards provide a clear, concise framework for parents to understand what the minimum, core content and skills are that their children need to know at different ages so that they can partner with schools to reinforce the school’s sexuality education program at home within the context of their family’s values.
• Research shows that sexuality education programs that teach about abstinence as well as other topics can have a positive impact on young people’s behaviors and practices.3 In communities where no or insufficient sexuality education is being offered, parents can use the National Sexuality Education Standards to advocate for the inclusion of content and skills that are based in research and best practices.
The Future of Sex Education (FoSE) initiative is a collaboration between Advocates for Youth, Answer and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to promote the institutionalization of sexuality education in America’s public schools. For more information, please visit www.futureofsexed.org.
Jan 9, 2012
Thanks to Rick Santorum’s comments about contraception, and his subsequent attempts to dial back those comments, one of the weekend’s two Republican presidential debates contained a lengthy interlude about contraception. As soon as Romney was done minimizing the importance of something which over 98% of sexually active women have used, he managed to force out "Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone.”
That would be an adequate contraception philosophy if it truly reflected Republican, or even Romney’s philosophy, but we know it doesn’t. In the last year we have seen many attacks on contraception – from the Mississippi personhood bill, which Romney wouldn’t say whether he supported or opposed, to attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of birth control to young and low income women, which attempts Romney supports.
An even sillier lie in the weekend’s debates came when Rick Santorum made this claim:
"In fact, he (Obama) has required programs not to talk about marriage, not to talk about abstinence, if — in order to get federal funds."
This is laughably untrue. First of all, no federally-funded sex education program leaves abstinence out of the discussion. Funds from the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative must go to medically accurate and scientifically proven programs – all of which discuss abstinence as a 100% effective method of birth control and as a great choice for teens. Funds from the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (health care reform) must teach about both abstinence and contraception. No one wants to leave abstinence out of a discussion of sexual health, and certainly not the President.
But even if Santorum were referring to abstinence-only programs, which discuss contraception only in terms of failure rates (if at all) and have repeatedly been proven ineffective, he’d still be wrong, because as CNN notes, "the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $110 million in grants in September 2010 for a range of groups, including more than $33 million for abstinence-focused programs in 29 states and Puerto Rico." That’s right, another $33 million added to the well over $1.5 billion spent on drink-the-spit style programs.
Ah, but who expects Santorum not to be muddled. This is the same man who literally said that gay couples only live in certain states. It is going to be a long year.
Dec 30, 2011
With close to end up the year 2011, it would really be interesting to view the year back and see how much ahead we all move for the cause. It means I am only talking about Advocacy that is focus on Sexual Reproductive Health, HIV and AIDS from youth’s perspectives from pure Nepalese eyes.
When we start year 2011, it was kind of hope as a youth activist in Nepal as we were going to start our work with Advocates for Youth in Nepal through YUWA. It was kind of excitement and challenge for us. So many causes for challenge but which of course over masked due to our excitement and passion to work for the cause. Advocating for an issue is not just working for some project or doing some workshop or conference. It is far more strong shot for us and we were excited as we, at that time, were confident enough to bear that all.
The time we started to work with Advocates for Youth were the time when all youth in our neighbor countries already started to unite for the same causes, where lots of work were done and some visible impact started to see. In our country also, story was similar. So many successful and so-called advocacies were going on and which is still there. However, the difference of our entry was with force of young people. (I mean here are young people of age below 24 years.) So many organizations still working in Nepal for whom youth means not old, means whose beard is not white. But for us, it is who is below certain age line, who have that energy to make change, and who have hope of long life ahead to live in rights based society.
The background when we stared to work was so much funny in one sense and so much tough in other sense. I am still not convinced that we became able to change that stereotype but I am very happy that we become able to hit there that people start marking the energy of young people, creativity of young people in all aspect not only as beneficiaries of program but also as professionals to plan those programs.
Year 2011 was really a great activism year for world also. For HIV activism it was really important year, for youth activist also it was really important year and so many other marking events for year 2012 already started to be planned in this year. In this verge of this platform, we have run a long way.
I remember the day when we set two policy objectives during our Council training in Dhulikhel. That was about youth leadership and sex education in schools. Before that also there were so many trainings, so many people talked about it, so many young people were trained to be peer educator but no one were really loud to speak out about change in policy which is guiding us to give that education. In that sense, we become pioneer to be that voice raiser from ourselves it mean from youth itself.
By saying this, I am not criticizing the very successful advocacy effort taken by Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) but just saying the young people itself become able to speak for themselves, which may have greater success if we become able to do Youth-Adult partnership now.
I really cannot measure how far we reached for our advocacy objectives but I am pretty sure about the change we become able to create. It was really not a joke to have young people discussing policies rather than just programs and working for it. So, breaking the stereotype and building the foundation was happened in year 2011 but still we need to build the house and society where rights of people be always right. Rights of young people be always right and they become able to use that freely.
Therefore, looking behind 2011 and being strategic, it is really a good time to hit the iron, as this is hot now. Still should not forget our failure during the year 2011. Fragile nature of young people and keeping the energy live for whole year is always a problem for advocacy, which is not going to be changed next year. Let’s continue the effort with great hope for 2012 and lets concentrate on what we become able to build in 2011 and make that bigger in 2012.
Thank you for all the help you all did so far and hope the same for 2012. Happy New Year..
Dec 26, 2011
This is me at a petition drive!
La historia de una activista.
This semester, I successfully established the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at the University of Texas at Brownsville, Texas. It was a tedious process to become a registered organization, however, I am extremely proud to say that the TFN Student Chapter at my university is the FIRST and ONLY POLITICAL ORGANIZATION that advocates for many issues that are prevalent in Texas [as well as the entire United States]. I do feel that our university was in need of a political organization other than the Student Government Association because many students are unaware of the issues that are occurring.
The first event that the TFN participated in was College Radio Day. We held a small petition drive for comprehensive sex education. It was an interesting experience because a lot of people were asking many questions. We had mixed emotions regarding comprehensive sex education. Many students were not given any sex education, others did not know that we had abstinence-only programs, and a few believed that we should not have comprehensive sex education because youth are ultimately to blame if they become pregnant or acquire an sexually transmitted disease. Also, we mentioned how LGBT youth are almost always not included in sex education. They are definitely excluded from the curriculum. All in all, we had a great turnout. Many people believed in our cause.
Students at UTB signing petitions!
This semester, I joined the School Health Advisory Committee in the Brownsville Independent School District [I have a blog for this!]. Currently, I will be working on making a recommendation for comprehensive sex education and presenting it in the following meeting [February!].
Even though I did not host many events like I would have liked to, I feel like I did a great job this semester in bringing the cause into light. Many people were unaware of the statistics and the policies that are in place. Now, I have all the confidence in my acitivist work. Texas, like most of the United States, is making a disservice to youth by not providing them with medically accurate sexual health education. Ultimately, it is up to us to make a change.
Dec 16, 2011
Today the House passed an appropriations bill that brought back abstinence-only-until-marriage funding that study after study has shown just doesn’t work! (Pissed? Take action and tell us what YOU would spend $5 million on #InsteadOfAbOnly) Check out sex education champion Rep. Barbara Lee speaking about why she voted against this bill.
Please take a minute to call her office and say THANK YOU for being a sex education champion! Her office number is: 202.225.2661.
And here’s another great video from today where she speaks more in depth about the other problematic issues in the bill including a federal funding ban for needle exchange programs and a ban on DC using its OWN money to provide abortion care to low-income women in the District.
Dec 15, 2011
…someday I will learn to come up with catchy, creative titles for my blog posts. But not today.
I don’t know what you’ve heard about the Heartbeat Bill in the state of Ohio, but it is quite crazy and needs to be stopped. The bill states that abortion will not be legal after a heartbeat is detected, even in the cases of rape, incest, health of the mother and viability of the fetus (whether or not it can live outside of the womb). There are a whole host of issues with this bill, a few of them being:
– Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant until they are at least 6 weeks along; a heartbeat is typically detected for the first time around 4-6 weeks. Therefore, this law essentially outlaws abortion for everyone who is not expecting a pregnancy.
– It forces women to carry an unhealthy fetus to term knowing that within hours after birth the baby will die.
– It forces survivors of rape to carry the child of their rapist for 9 months.
– It is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! The ACLU has already declared that it will file a lawsuit against the state if this piece of legislation is passed.
– There are hundreds of other reasons as to why this whole thing is terrible, but I won’t spend all of my time telling listing them…
The bill was passed in the Ohio House of Representatives, and was then passed on to the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Aging. Last week, supporters of the bill testified in front of the committee; some of these individuals speaking about how they had at least one, if not two abortions and now regret their decision after seeking help from extremely religious organizations that have shamed them into believing that they are murderers. Other supporters of the bill testified this week with thousands of Bible verses and incorrect "facts" about abortion. I also testified on Tuesday (after about 7 hours of being at the statehouse and 4 hours into the committee hearing)… but I was testifying against the bill. Some main points that I made were:
– I am a female of childbearing age & this legislation that directly impacts me & my peers (I had to point this out as the majority, if not all of the pro-lifers were white, male, and (of the women) post-childbearing age.)
– Until the state government was willing to fully fund education and social programs (including adoption services), they should not be passing a bill that requires families to bring another child into this world that they are unable to care for.
– This piece of legislation tells me that my state government does not respect me as an individual or trust me to make the best decision for my life and my body. Therefore, it makes me want to take my Master’s degree & income tax from my well paying job to another state where I am respected and trusted.
– There must be a separation of church and state. While I don’t know if I would ever have an abortion, I do know that it’s not my right to make that choice for someone else. We are all entitled to worship or not worship in whatever way we choose; we should not be subjected to follow the rules of someone else’s religious beliefs. If your faith tells you that abortion is not a good choice, then you should take that into consideration for your own life; you cannot make someone else abide of the rules of your religion. (I wish I would have articulated this point better after hearing all of the other testimonies…)
– We need to stop wasting time trying to pass unconstitutional legislation and start investing in prevention that works, ie: comprehensive sex education.
Other interesting points made at the hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday were:
– How many individuals on the pro-life movement are adopting children? Specifically children born right here in Ohio, not from third world countries. Realistic answer: not enough.
– What is the pro-life movement doing to support other issues such as education, Medicaid and social programs to support children outside of the womb? Realistic answer: nothing.
– Is Faith to Action (the pro-life group sponsoring this legislation) going to pay the state’s legal fees when this is taken to the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional? Given answer: Only through tax dollars.
– Will current and future physicians choose to practice medicine in Ohio knowing that they could be arrested if they felt the best medical decision to save a patient’s life was to abort their fetus? Answer: Yes, with absolute certainty.
Testifying was a great experience! The room was definitely full of tension, and it certainly was a longggg day – but we made it out alive! I felt very respected by the committee, and occasionally individuals on the othe rside of the debate were semi-cordial. After the hearing was over, I spoke to my senator (who happened to be the vice chair of the committee). He thanked me for coming down and stating my views on the bill; he then went on to express how even though there are very strong beliefs on both sides, he has the highest respect for individuals (especially young people) who come to Columbus to make their voice heard (meaning he didn’t agree with me, but he was glad I was there).
The only downfall to all of this was that there were VERY few young people there testifying. While the pro-choice-ers had a few young people testify, the majority of all people who spoke were 40+…. It made me realize even more how important it is for young people to get involved & make their voice heard. No matter where you stand on an issue, if you feel passionately about it and have done your research to develop an opinion, let the legislators know how you feel!! You are the future of this country and the decisions made today are about YOUR life – they will impact you & generations to come. Voting is huge, but advocating for something can make an incredible difference. Get involved, folks! Stop letting the baby boomers make all of the decisions – this is YOUR country, too!
If you’re wondering what happened with the heartbeat bill – it is going to continue to sit in the committee until further notice. The Senate president told the committee chair to suspend all hearings on the Heartbeat Bill until further notice (which is good news for us because their goal was to pass it by Christmas) …. So who knows when hearings will come about again, but thankfully Ohioans maintain their right to choose…. for now. :-/
Oh, and here is the link to the news clip with my testimony!
Dec 15, 2011
So, Congress introduced its appropriations bill late last night to fund the federal government through the end of the 2012 fiscal year. There’s good news and bad news.
GOOD: Your calls to Congress made a difference! Even though new abstinence-only-until-marriage funding was reintroduced, they will only receive $5 million. That’s a step in the right direction.
BAD: We’ve seen this before. The Community Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) fund was launched with only $20 million, but its annual funding was scaled up to more than $110 million in just a few years. $5 million is just the beginning.
By now we all know that the majority of Americans oppose an abstinence-only approach to sex education. What makes this worse is that Congress has been raging for months about slashing unnecessary spending and cutting the deficit. $5 million for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs is like taking a match to taxpayers’ money and simply lighting it on fire. (Actually, it’s even worse than that. Research has shown that these programs have no impact on teen behavior – and they also forbid students from learning about contraception and condoms.)
Our elected officials are fond of saying that "the people" know how to spend their own tax dollars better than politicians in Washington do, and for once we couldn’t agree more. So let’s turn it over to you.
TELL US: WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH $5 MILLION?
"Like" us on Facebook, and post comments, photos, or videos on the Amplify Facebook Page explaining how you’d help people with $5 million — rather than fund failed abstinence-only programs. Download a template HERE!
Let us know by tweeting @AmplifyTweets and using the #InsteadOfAbOnly and #5mil hashtags.
I can’t wait to see all of your amazing ideas – and don’t worry, we’ll make sure to pass them along leaders on Capitol Hill!
Dec 14, 2011
Last week, we were all psyched because the Food and Drug Administration recommended that Plan B One-Step (also known as emergency contraception) be approved over-the-counter for women and young people of all ages…then the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave the FDA the shaft, with Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ruling that younger adolescents don’t have the same capacity to think as critically as their older peers. Everybody had something to say about it, including Jessica Valenti, Jezebel, NARAL, The Washington Post, doctors groups, The New York Times, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and RH Reality Check.
Then President Obama decided to defend the Secretary Sebelius’s decision, stating that, as a father of two daughters, the government should "apply some common sense" — as opposed to what? Listening to science? While I understand President Obama’s stance and I can see where Secretary Sebelius is coming from to a certain degree, I also understand a couple of things:
2012 is an election year: This is really about the Obama administration taking all necessary routes to make sure that Obama is re-elected in 2012. What better way to assist in that than by appealing to the "moral consciousness" of many people who are undecided if they should vote for Obama or for the yet-unknown Republican candidate, and by throwing young people under the bus in the process?
Making access to contraception more difficult can result in negative consequences: If a 16-year-old cannot get access to Plan B, the chances of experiencing an unwanted pregnancy or having an abortion increase significantly. Thus, if the goal is to decrease the number of abortion procedures and the number of teen pregnancies, it makes sense to provide everyone with access to an array of birth control options, including emergency contraception. Emergency contraception is safe when used as directed, and it can stop unwanted pregnancies from occurring. This is why comprehensive sex education, combined with parent-child communication, is extremely important.
All young people are not the same: Secretary Sebelius’s statement that younger adolescents may not have the same capacity to think as critically as their older peers makes sense on a surface level, but in working with young people throughout the years, I know that not all young people think alike, act alike, and many are more mature and can think critically than many adults give them credit for. In fact, I believe I know more young people who know what Plan B than older adults. Sebelius provided no scientific evidence that would actually say why the FDA is incorrect in their recommendation. To say that younger adolescents do not know how to effectively read a label and take the correct dosage (or that they wouldn’t be able to go to their nearest clinic or to a trusted adult if they have questions) is bizarre and condescending.
The same HHS that vetoed the FDA’s recommendation on Plan B is the same HHS that recommended health insurance companies provide birth control prescriptions with no co-pay starting August 2012: Was the HHS thinking about any potential damaging consequences when this recommendation was made?
Medical science should always prevail: Common sense isn’t so common when it’s used to trump scientific evidence. Politics should not win out over medical science. I expected for President Obama to focus more on the best medical and scientific research.
Though teen birth rates have steadily declined over the years, young women of color still experience unintended pregnancies at a disproportionate rate.
These are some reasons why not making Plan B available over-the-counter affects young women of color:
Significant barriers: Youth of color experience more financial, cultural, and institutional barriers in obtaining health care compared to white youth, and many youth of color are receiving limited access to medical services that can aid in their overall health and wellbeing. Denying young women of color access to emergency contraception over-the-counter, when they are already receiving little or no medical services, places them in a precarious situation.
Abortions on the rise: Women of color are having abortions at higher rates than white women, often because of financial constraints. With no access to Plan B, the rates of abortion will continue to rise for young women, especially young women of color.
Limited proper identification: In order to get any type of prescription, one will need access to proper identification outside of a school ID. How many young people are walking around with proper identification? This can definitely be a problem for young immigrant women.
Negotiating condom use: This places an even greater burden on young women of color who have difficulty in negotiating condom use with their sexual partners.
Yes, President Obama may have been thinking of his daughters when he defended the HHS’s decision to overrule the FDA. However, many young women of color may not be growing up in homes where they have access to healthcare services that the Obama children most likely have. In order to work towards decreasing the rates of unintended pregnancies and abortion for young women of color, we need to make Plan B available for all young people.
Take action with me and many others in telling the Obama administration and HHS to stop preventing the FDA from recommending scientifically based and sound decisions for the health and lives of women and young people.
Dec 14, 2011
I’m pro-choice and I’m pro-life. It’s a definition that I’ve come to myself, interest-group free.
For a long time, I was about nothing more than ensuring a women’s right to choice—to choose if and when she would become a mother. Over time, my beliefs have become more complicated with the more people I meet, the more stories I hear, and the older I get.
Before either side sounds the alarm, hear me out.
In the abortion world, there are two camps: the extreme pro-choicers and the extreme pro-lifers. We seldom (if ever) see the regular people who have been touched by abortion. Planned Parenthood and the Ohio Right to Life both have testimonials from women to advance the organization’s interests, not necessarily the story of everyday women.
I’m not relinquishing my pro-choice beliefs. Instead, I’m adopting some new ones. Sitting for an entire day listening to testimony for both sides on House Bill 125, the “Heartbeat” Bill, I’m rattled and frustrated. Perhaps you should be, too.
It’s not just the fact that this legislation would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected that brings about frustration. If you know me, you know I think that this is the wrong approach. If you disagree, then let’s agree to disagree. Still hear me out.
What I cannot understand—what baffles and confuses and angers me—is the fact that we have a middle ground, yet so few are willing to leave the comfort of their talking points and their derisive language to try to come up with a solution.
Abortion is “erroneous” fetuses have “civil rights,” and the constitution is “perverted”. Ok, ok—I get it. You are opposed to abortion. Fine. I personally believe it’s less black and white, but can we set those arguments aside and move toward the one that really matters: prevention?
When we want to prevent car accidents, we teach people how to drive safely. When we want to prevent poverty, we attack its root causes: addiction, education, unplanned pregnancies, etc. And when we want to prevent abortion—which we must all have a stake in—then we have to start with preventing unplanned pregnancies.
How? We could start with improving sex education. On an issue that clearly drums up endless passion on both sides, would we ever come up short on ideas? I doubt it. The key is to put our differences aside and reunite as Americans with a singular purpose: to improve the quality of life for everyone, young and old. There is something inherently pro-life sounding in that, if you ask me.
Yes, I’m pro-choice. But, like many others, including those on the pro-life side, we are so much more than our labels, so, if you dare, leave yours at the door and let’s actually solve a problem instead of creating new ones.
Dec 13, 2011
Garrett Mize is the Youth Advocacy Coordinator at the Texas Freedom Network and heads up the Texas Student Leadership Council, a part of Advocates for Youth’s Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative.
In just the past few months, comprehensive sex ed has made huge strides in Texas. With the announcement of Texas Freedom Network’s latest report, our Houston Leadership Development Institute and World AIDS Day there is plenty of good news to go around.
Texas Freedom Network Education Fund Report
TFNEF’s latest report on sex ed in Texas is much different than our original 2009 report Just Say Don’t Know. In the first report, we asked each public school district in Texas to tell us what type of sex ed they taught. Of the 1,031 independent school districts in Texas, 990 responded. We found that 94 percent of school districts taught abstinence-only, 3.6 percent taught abstinence-plus and 2.3 percent taught nothing at all. The numbers were startling to say the least.
Our newest report, Sex Education in Texas Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State, found that abstinence-only is now taught in 74.6 percent of school districts, and abstinence-plus is taught in 25.4 percent of school districts. This major improvement in the quality of sex ed taught in Texas is thanks in large part to grassroots activists who have served on a local School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) and to organizations like the Texas Freedom Network and Advocates for Youth. While abstinence-only remains the clear majority, it is losing its grip in Texas. The latest report’s findings were featured in The Dallas Morning News.
University of Houston Leadership Development Institute
Recently, the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at UH hosted its first-ever Leadership Development Institute. This grassroots training focused on civic engagement and skills to organize students on campus to support comprehensive sex ed in a non-partisan manner during the election cycle. With 50 people in attendance, this training was a popular Saturday event.
James Lee, president of the TFN student chapter at UH, organized the event and introduced the presenters, which included Dr. Susan Tortolero, director of the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center; Meryl Cohen, vice president of Education at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast; Resha Thomas, campaign coordinator for the Texas Organizing Project; and Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network.
I’m expecting a lot of great work to come out of this student chapter next semester!
World AIDS Day 2011
Despite the fact that it was finals week, our youth activists managed to put on great events to highlight World AIDS Day on their campuses. In particular, Mackenzie Massey, president of the TFN student chapter at UT, organized the entire World AIDS Day fair at her school. She created a coalition of 13 student organizations, led by the TFN student chapter, to put on this day of action. The coalition had free HIV testing, a T-shirt awareness campaign with 250 t-shirts, an expert discussion panel, a student organization tabling fair, a banner signing campaign and a petition signing effort to support comprehensive sex ed in Texas. Mackenzie worked closely with Ana Laura Rivera, another fantastic Advocates for Youth activist, to put this event on.
Their efforts were featured in numerous media outlets, including Spanish-language Univision, The Daily Texan, Austin NPR affiliate KUT 90.5 FM and other student news sources. Other youth activists also took action by tabling on their campuses to mark World AIDS Day, including Spencer Allers at UT San Antonio and April Flores at UT Brownsville.
There has been a lot of progress in Texas this past semester, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have much to look forward to in 2012!
Dec 8, 2011
Disappointed doesn’t cut it anymore.
Disappointed, angry, dismayed — these are only some of the emotions I am feeling this afternoon after hearing President Obama’s poor excuse for restricting access to Plan B One Step.
I am also scared.
Scared about the health of my daughters. As the mother of two daughters, just like President Obama, I try to use "common sense" as much as possible. But, also like President Obama, I am not a doctor; I am not a scientist. I use my own judgment when it comes to things I am confident I can handle — a case of the sniffles, a little cold.
But, I also understand that it is my responsibility as a parent to know when I don’t know all the answers and it’s time to turn to experts. And that, apparently, is where the President and I disagree.
When my daughter’s pediatrician gives me medical advice, I listen. Carefully. American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine make recommendations about my daughters’ health, that matters to me. A lot. And I believe it should.
Today, President Obama has made the irresponsible — and nearly incomprehensible — decision to support HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ move to block the FDA from expanding access to Plan B One-Step emergency contraception. Whether the President’s decision was motivated by well-intentioned ignorance or political cowardice is beside the point. Either way, this move will adversely impact millions of women, particularly young women, across the country.
President Obama has decided to ignore scientific research and medical advice and has sacrificed the health of young women. And I want to know why. Why, Mr. President? Why would you reject years of research and the best scientific thinking the medical community has to offer? Why, for the first time in U.S. history, did your administration intervene to overrule the FDA’s ability to make decision about medical science?
On Monday, I was optimistic. The FDA was expected to expand the availability of Plan B One-Step, a form of back-up birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if something goes wrong with regular contraception. Indeed, the FDA tried to do just that: make Plan B One-Step available to all women — without age restrictions and without needing a prescription. If either of my daughters ever needs back-up birth control, I hope I will be among the first to know and I would help them in whatever way I could. But, life is not always as we want it to be, and therefore, it is essential that young people have the access to the information and services they need to ensure their health and safety. I thought we were headed in this direction on Monday. But, my optimism suddenly turned to dismay.
Yesterday, in a shocking move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA and blocking its decision to expand access to emergency contraception. I held out a brief hope that President Obama would intervene and allow the FDA to do its job unhampered by politics, but those hopes were soon dashed as well. Today, President Obama came out in support of Secretary Sebelius’ action – and, in doing so, decided to play politics with the lives and health of young women.
To say I was shocked when listening to the President is an understatement. It’s not just that I disagree with his position, it’s that his reasoning is so hollow and unsubstantiated. This Harvard-educated legal scholar who has signed presidential directives about the importance of science-based policy suddenly sounded eerily like Rep. Michelle Bachman. He framed his reasoning “as the father of two daughters,” when my own two daughters most needed him to be acting like the President of the United States. He invoked the specter of 11 year-olds buying Plan B next to “bubble gum and batteries,” as if 11 year-olds wander into CVS to buy $50 medications every afternoon. In the end, he felt that these concerns should overweigh the best advice of every major medical organization, years of research, and the recommendations of the FDA itself. How is this different than Rep. Bachman condemning HPV vaccines because of unscientific misinformation from a woman in the grocery store?
I understand that President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that young teens may need emergency contraception. That worries me too. Rather than deny them access to a fully safe medication that could help prevent unintended pregnancy, perhaps we should be doubling down on comprehensive sex education — and expanding access to contraception in the first place — so that fewer of our daughters ever need Plan B at all. But, for those who do, we still have a responsibility to make sure that any woman who needs emergency contraception has access to it when they need it.
As I write this my daughters are at school and I am figuring out how to get them a quick dinner before heading off to a school holiday party this evening. Of all the other things, on my to do list today as a working mom, I really did not believe I would be writing about my shock and disappointment in President Obama and, yes, my fear for my daughters’ future.
Was this part of a back-room deal, trading away the rights of all our daughters for some inside-the-beltway political ploy? Mr. President, why? I still want to know. I need something more than your current, cowardly excuses.
Mr. President, many of us were stunned by your remarks today. We need a better explanation for why you decided to sacrifice my daughters’ safety and well-being.
I hope you will join me in expressing your outrage and demanding that President Obama reverse this decision. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION.
Dec 8, 2011
Mackenzie Massey is the President of the Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter at the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of the Texas Student Leadership Council, the Texas portion of Advocates for Youth’s Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative.
World AIDS Day activities at UT Austin in the past have existed, but in 2011 I wanted to do it bigger and better than ever before. I knew the trick to this would be advanced planning, collaboration with many other organizations, and some solid fundraising.
In late September I met with my friend Ana Laura and we started brainstorming. After months of hard work the big day came, we raised almost $2,000 to put towards our event, and it was a HUGE success!
For more information about the day’s events, check out our World AIDS Day coverage from KUT!
World AIDS Day at UT Austin included:
+ Free HIV Testing
+ Free food and prizes
+ A student organization fair of 13 diverse organizations that covered different aspects of the HIV epidemic including: literacy, food security, public health, prevention programs, education, sex education policy, poverty and international aid funding.
+ Red HIV awareness ribbons
+ An interactive sex education trivia wheel
+ Free condoms and lube
+ An expert panel discussion focusing on AIDS and Criminality
+ A resource fair of local direct service organizations in the Austin community
+ A banner signing campaign, with red finger paints!
+ Petitions for comprehensive sex education
+ Press coverage from 6 media outlets including Fox 7, KVUE, KUT, and Univision
Dec 8, 2011
Couple of days back I attended The 1st Regional Education Summit on HIV/AIDS in Africa, RESHAA 2011 is the Continent of Africa’s meeting on the Education Sector Response to HIV/AIDs. This took place in Abuja Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Education, through its HIV / AIDS Unit in partnership with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and other stakeholders. There were several pre-summit activities just before the mains Summit. Young people from all part of the country had the chance to attend and the chance to get more information on the SRH issue. However, The Objective of the Summit was:
– To create a platform for both students and stakeholders in the educational sector to interact on HIV related issues and address the impact on young people.
– To involve young people in dialogue through their active voices and active participation towards preventing new infection and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS among the in school youth.
– To explore innovative strategies and its application like the use of ICT for HIV prevention within the school setting.
– And finally to Increase the proportion of young people and peer educators by 40% who have appropriate knowledge of HIV&AIDS as well as right attitude, behavior and life building skills by the end of 2015
I attend the program not as a participant, but as an Assistant communication personal, so I was not paying attention in the program a lot, however a certain period I realized that the whole place went silence because a 13yr old female student asked “when is the right time to have sex?” the question brought silence to the room, however it still got to my attention that if only She was giving Sex education right from her primary school or if she was been given information on sex at home this question would have been answered, before she even come to the conference and because we practice or let me say we encourage Abstinence till marriage then we should expect more question like these in the near future, unless we make effort to pass this information to the growing and energetic youth, we will fall in an unprincipled world.
So what are you planning to give to see that we don’t fall in to that world?
Dec 6, 2011
Getting youth to talk about sex in Nepal is no easy task. With a shroud of stigmas and taboos surrounding the topic, it’s difficult to get a clear idea of the sex scene among youth, but just as difficult is trying to get the youth to take part in an open forum about sex and sex related issues in order to educate them on the matter.
Sagar Budhathoki of Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER Nepal), a youth-to-youth initiative pioneered by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), believes that youth are not expressive about this topic.
“It’s difficult for youth to talk about this. At a young age they are shy and feel embarrassed just saying ‘ sex’ or talking about it,” says Sagar who adds that youth who work in the sexual reproductive health sector understand but for most youngsters who are in college, sex is something that is still only discussed in hushed tones within small circles of friends.
In an effort to be more open about sex and sexual education, Y-PEER, and Story Cycle, a media platform that bridges the source of stories to views, joined efforts in the “Talk to me: Let’s talk About Sex” open forum held on Dec 4 at Adarsha Kanya Niketan, Magal Bazar Patan.
Breaking the event into two major categories Dr Rajendra Bhadra of Jhpiego presented the first segment on art, culture, sculpture and sex. With humorous comments that induced giggles in the crowd of almost entirely young people, Dr Rajendra spoke on how sex is talked about in our culture – just not openly.
Exploring various Nepali traditions like Bratabanda, marriage, and Nwaran, Dr Rajendra was able to explain that sex is abundant in our culture, history, and that it is embedded in a large degree of Nepali practices even if it subtle.
The 18 year old Shusma Puri, says, “Dr Rajendra brought up a good point – we talk about sex but we don’t do it openly. I talk about it with girls but we do it in a room and never bring it up around boys. I thought the program was good – there’s no harm is taking about sex, it doesn’t ruin anything.”
Shushma, a student of National College added, “I wanted to get more information. I first learned a little about it when I got my periods but I had no idea what was happening and even in school we weren’t taught about it properly.”
According to Shusma her teacher was shy and therefore not thorough about teaching sex education.
When discussing about sex and reproductive health, the matter of gender inevitable comes up. Perhaps for this reason the second segment focused on HIV related stigmas and discrimination with Pooja Ghale of National Federation of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (NFWLHA) and Bhumika Shrestha of Blue Diamond Society spoke about youth and homosexuality.
Bringing up minorities and their issues to light, the event attempted to raise awareness and expose youth to the truth and reality in Nepal. But when it comes to sharing, there are severa sides of the story that needs to be taken into account.
Saurav Dhakal of Story Cycle explains that when it comes to sex related matters there are two major drawbacks in Nepal.
“As a story teller at first, we thought that we’d go and people would talk and we could put a story together – but then we realized that it takes people time to talk and share, and even then we’re not sure about what language to use.” Saurav explains the difficulty in navigating a conversation and there is uncertainty about what words and phrases may or may not be appropriate.
When a story is competed there is difficulty in giving it the exposure it needs, “We try to take the stories to broadcasters but Nepali mainstream broadcasters don’t think this issue is important.
Maybe they don’t trust other people but no matter what, our stories being available online aren’t equivalent to being printed on national media.” This obviously makes it even more difficult for the news to be spread.
Beyond just informing youth about sex Sagar explains that when talking about sex and sexuality a major issue is that youth may agree that this is a issue but they fail to see it as their issue.
“Before I started working in this sector, I didn’t realize that it affected me, but when I saw that this was also relevant to me, I became more interested.” Sagar believes that once youth internalize the need to be knowledgeable about sexual reproductive health only then can there be change.
To address this Y-PEER uses a peer educator method, “We currently have 72 peer educators, there are girls, boys, and third genders between the ages of 16 to 24 that we have trained who then go to other youth.”
Using a balance of all genders and minority groups, the idea is to have youth reach out and educate other youths.
“This isn’t something that will have impact overnight, it’s a slow transformation that happens on the local level,” Sagar says.
published in Republica Newspaper by Shreya Thapa
Dec 1, 2011
"We determined we could not put our children at risk."
-The Milton Hershey School, on their decision to
deny admission to a 13-year-old HIV-positive student
My colleague Sarah just sent the following alert to our Youth Activist Network. Will you take a minute to speak out against fear and stigma? Help us tell this Pennsylvania school to stop discriminating against a 13-year-old HIV-positive student.
The Milton Hershey School promises to "nurture and educate children in social and financial need to lead fulfilling and productive lives" — unless you happen to be living with HIV.
The school recently rejected the application of a 13-year-old young man — publicly citing his HIV-positive status as the reason for his rejection. In a written statement, the school attempted to justify their illegal action, saying "In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others."
People living with HIV do not pose any kind of health threat to those around them. Educators, in particular, should know better — this is 2011, not 1985! I don’t know what kind of sex education they teach at the Milton Hershey School, but it might be time for the administrators and admissions staff to retake the class.
Thankfully, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania has joined this young man and his family as they fight for his right to education unhindered by ignorance and fear. It is particularly disappointing to see such small-minded bigotry promoted by an educational institution.
We were outraged to hear about this young man’s situation, but — as we observe World AIDS Day this week — this story of blatant discrimination serves as a shocking reminder that people living with HIV and AIDS still face stigma each and every day across the U.S. and around the world.
Senior Manager of Domestic Policy
Advocates for Youth
Nov 29, 2011
Young people want to talk with their parents and careers about sexual health. Avoiding the subject won’t stop young people having sex, but it may result in them relying on inaccurate information, putting them at risk of unwanted sex, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
Young people are exposed to images and stories about sex in the media every day. They talk to their friends and seek out information on the Internet. Not all of this information, however, is accurate or empowering.
Most young people seek information about sexual health at some stage. They most commonly consult either their mother or a female friend; use their school sexual health program, pamphlets or their doctor for information on sexual health.
Talking to young people about sex does not encourage sexual experimentation. In fact, research indicates that young people who receive a comprehensive sexuality (sex) education have a lower risk of unintended pregnancy and are less likely to have sex at an early age.
Nov 23, 2011
Sexual health is an important aspect of youth as it is a major issue affecting Nigerian youth. Adequate awareness for sexual and reproductive health will go a long way in reducing STDs, abortions and overpopulation only when we help in promoting the sex education and peer education in our communities, it does not matter who we are or how old we are? But: how concerned we are with our communities today.
The promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people was fueled by The Project Director, Centre for the Right to Health, in person of Mr. Bede Eziefule, who spoke at a workshop yesterday for civil society groups and the media to sensitize them on their roles in increasing awareness on sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people; He said “issues relating to sexuality were not adequately talked about, particularly to children who he added were not being taught sex education. He further indicated that there were inadequate primary health care centers which people can visit for information about their sexuality”.
There is also limited access to the few centers available due to certain reasons. However, some critical issues, such as:
• Untrained healthcare providers
• Lack of confidentiality
• Lack of infrastructure
Most adolescents have no opportunity to acquire knowledge about their sexuality and rights as most youth centers were not friendly thereby making it uncomfortable for them to access services rendered. As one of the factors impeding youth from visiting these centers, is the fear of disclosure to family members and laws prohibiting young people under 18 from getting tested for HIV.
The promotion of sexual education would reduce the incidences of rape, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), abortions, unwanted pregnancies and overpopulation in the country.
Nov 15, 2011
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced House Resolution 3324, or the “Real Education for Healthy Youth Act” into both chambers of Congress earlier this month.
This new bill is a great achievement towards strengthening public schools and by addressing not only heterosexual but LGBTQ students in comprehensive sex education in public schools this would help students to broaden their perspective and help them to accept LGBTQ individuals.
If LGBTQ-inclusive comprehensive sex ed is taught, LGBTQ targeted bulling can go down. I believe in getting the schools involved will get students to understand that homosexuality is a natural feeling that shouldn’t be taunted. What better way to do this than to include it into the sexual education forum. A lot of schools teach abstinence only programs but they have be proven to not to be effective. So by teaching teens comprehensive sex education that’s doesn’t leave out LGBTQ students than everyone can get a better understanding of sexual health of others.
We need to advocate that sexual health is a big part of every teen’s life and by opposing it to abstinence only programs we ignore the teen’s concerns. We need to promote equality within the public spheres’ and provide truthful information on contracpetive and sexual idenity. There will be many challenges to face along the way for this issue such as conservative parents who feel teaching LGBTQ issues in schools is an outrage and would also require a great deal of advocacy to reach the schools boards. But with the proper advocacy and a positive outreach we can live in a society that no longer shames people for natural sexual urgues.
Nov 9, 2011
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
October 30 – November 5
Stats this week: 31 posts by 25 writers
Inside this post:
Women’s access to birth control could be severly limited by Initiative 26 because this measure considers a fertilized egg as a human life. However, many forms of birth control prevents the implantation of fertilized eggs, therein creating a conflict. Maybe if our politicians had received better sex education they might understand this more thoroughly…
Young feminism is thriving!- by ashthom
Inside this post:
USA Today ran an article claiming young women are no longer interested in the feminist movement. This is my response.
Child Marriage and its effects on SRHR- by srijanna1
Inside this post:
A comprehensive look at the physical and emotional effects of child marriage in Nepal.
Inside this post:
Today, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) are introducing the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a new bill that lays out a comprehensive, age-appropriate, and holistic vision for sex education policy in the United States.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My post this week:
How Herman Cain can help us talk honestly about abortion
Nov 3, 2011
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
October 23- October 29
Stats this week: 32 posts by 25 writers
Inside this post:
Abortion and access to modern effective contraception should be a fundamental right. There is no better alternative to support (poor) people in taking responsibility for their reproductive health.
We’re Still Blaming The Victim?- by Media_Justice
Inside this post:
It troubles me because we still are in a society where people are UNCLEAR about what consent includes, what it means to obtain consent from someone, and what it means to violate someone and not obtain consent. I find it troubling that adults are blaming this young woman for experiencing bullying, threats, isolation because of her choice to perform oral sex.
Inside this post:
Ashley writes about parental consent laws, which restrict minors’ access to abortion services.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My post this week: Book Burning and Sex Education
Nov 2, 2011
Are you ready to help make history?
Today, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) are introducing the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a new bill that lays out a comprehensive, age-appropriate, and holistic vision for sex education policy in the United States.
Among its many highlights, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act:
• Recognizes young people’s right to sexual health information – the first time federal legislation has ever done so
• Prepares young people to make informed, responsible and healthy decisions about relationships and sexual health by including a comprehensive range of topics such as communication and decision-making skills; promoting safe and healthy relationships; and preventing unintended pregnancy, HIV, other STDs, dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, and harassment
• Includes grants for comprehensive sex education programs for adolescents and young adults in institutions of higher education
• Requires all funded programs to be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and heterosexual youth and meet the needs of young people who are and are not sexually active
• Highlights the importance of, and provides resources for, teacher training to ensure that our nation’s sex educators have the tools they need to provide the highest quality comprehensive sex education possible to our nation’s youth.
We could never have reached this point without your help. Together, we advocated for years for the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act. Because of your hard work, the REAL Act passed "in spirit" with the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) that came out of the new health care law.
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act is the next step in our work together to advance the sexual health of young people in the United States. Our allies in Congress heard you loud and clear when you spoke up about what’s missing in other federal programs (teacher training, programs for college youth, LGBT-inclusive programs, healthy relationships, etc.). Thanks to your efforts and their leadership, this bill has become a reality.
But our work to pass the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act is only beginning. Will you join us?
Despite having some of the worst sexual health outcomes in the developed world, thousands of young people across the U.S. are denied their right to comprehensive information and services. The continuation of ineffective and harmful abstinence-only-until-marriage programs simply cannot be tolerated, not now and not ever. Let’s work together to provide young people with the real education they need to make healthy, responsible decisions about their lives.
Executive Vice President
Advocates for Youth
Nov 2, 2011
Delsie-Ann Bailey unavoidably missed out on an important part of her teen life — senior year. She was unable to celebrate like other teens her age. She missed her senior prom because at age seventeen she became pregnant.
When I leave College and return home to be a mother, “I stop to think how my life could have been different,” Delsie-Ann said to a group of young environmental and reproductive health activists at the One Voice Summit on October 28, 2011 in Washington DC. There were no sex education classes in her high school. Delsie-Ann like many other teens have suffered as a result of the absence of comprehensive sex education, which teaches children, adolescents and youth about abstinence, faithfulness and using condoms and other modern effective contraception.
Delsie-Ann was born in St Catherine, Jamaica. She moved to North Carolina in the United States at an early age. Many people in the developing countries would expect that sex education would be standard for American teens. Today, Delsie-Ann works part-time and attends college full-time. All this she manages while being a teen mom and she still finds time to volunteer with other teens in North Carolina to advocate for comprehensive sex education as well as train teachers how to teach sex ed to teens.
Comprehensive sex education is desperately needed to encourage adolescents to delay sexual debut, reduce sexual partners and teach young people to communicate and make safe decisions about sex.
“No one should have to go through the things I had to go through,” she said. “I advocate because I realize that not only does my work affect people now but also my daughter’s generation.”
Over $1.5b has been wasted on abstinence only until marriage programmes in the USA. Thanks in part to the work of many people, including Delsie-Ann and her colleagues; there is now a Teen Health Act so hundreds of thousands of young people in North Carolina can learn about and safeguard their sexual and reproductive health.
This is remarkable because two young people become infected with HIV every hour in the United States. The rates have stabilized over the years but it is increasing rapidly among young people, particularly among young men of colour who have sex with men, especially young black men.
There is also more good news. About 21 States and the District of Colombia mandate that schools teach sex education, 32 States teach HIV and STD education and 23 States request that abstinence be stressed.
Oct 31, 2011
In Nepal sexual and reproductive health education and services are provided to young people, current rates of HIV infection and pregnancy are increasing in Nepal, indicating that young people do not always use sexual health services. This is because the sex education is not well designed .
Health facilities have apparently failed to provide young people with specialized sexual health education and services. There are many socioeconomic, cultural and physical norms that impose barriers to accessing information on sexual health and relevant services.
The establishment of youth-friendly service centres in convenient places might help encourage young people to use sexual health services. Such youth friendly service centers would attract many young people and help them easily share their problems and ultimately get the best solution.
Oct 31, 2011
By: Lauren Kalina, AFY Intern
On November 8, the state of Mississippi will vote on ballot initiative 26, which will attempt to change the Mississippi constitution to define human life as beginning at conception. The actual text of the initiative is as follows:
Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
For the women of Mississippi, this initiative would attempt to ban abortion, certain types of birth control as well as treatment for infertility and miscarriage. This is a major violation of a woman’s reproductive rights. Additionally, Initiative 26 could have many more far-reaching, unforseen legal and political implications.
Recently, many anti-choice presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, have come out in support of this life-threatening measure. Romney, like many other conservative politicians, seems to be confused about just how extreme Initiative 26 is. Here, you can watch Rachel Maddow set men straight about how birth control works.
Women’s access to birth control could be severly limited by Initiative 26 because this measure considers a fertilized egg as a human life. However, many forms of birth control prevents the implantation of fertilized eggs, therein creating a conflict. Maybe if our politicans had received better sex education they might understand this more thoroughly…
This vote on November 8th is of particular importance to Mississippians, but should be of great importance to women all over the country. According to CNN, Mississippi is the only state with a "personhood" initiative on the ballot this year. However, according to the CNN article, similar measures are being planned for next year in Florida, Montana and Ohio; and efforts in at least five other states are in the planning stages.
A yes vote on this measure would open the floodgates for more bills such as this to be introduced in other states. Mississippians for Healthy Families has created a coalition of organizations that oppose Initiative 26. The coalition includes: the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, The American College of Obstetrician Gynecologists and many more.
Regardless of where you live, you can help make a difference in the lives of women and families throughout Mississippi by donating today to the Vote No on 26 campaign. Your support will help the campaign’s grassroots efforts to prevent the passage of this harmful initiative.
Oct 28, 2011
In the Kathmandu Valley, I was on my way home when a foreign visitor asked me about the sex symbols crafted on a temple. I had seen those symbols long before in different temples of the valley but was eager to know more about them only when the visitor asked me. Obviously, anyone would be eager to hear and know about them. This was the same case with me when I saw sex symbols in different temples that were crafted around 300 to 400 years ago during the time of the Lichhavi kings.
Many visitors from around the world take pictures of these temples. We have the concept that temples are holy places and places of respect.
According to the Tantrik Bidhi, these crafted arts symbolize real life. Religiously, people believe this art helped to control natural disasters like thunder, earthquakes and lightning around the premises.
Dr. Dinesh Bhuju of RONAST (Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology) said of the sex symbols, “Production in the agricultural sector during those periods was high, as was the death rate. A large number of people died from different diseases like diarrhea and smallpox, as medicine was usually unavailable. So to maintain the population, these types of symbols were used in the temples as a holy deed.”
He also said there was no medium of communication. These art works delivered the message of sex education to people who were unaware of the importance of generational continuity in society.
In some of the books written by foreign writers about the crafted arts, they labeled the temples as “erotic.” For example, we can take the temple of “Jagannath” which is located in the heart of the tourist center Basantapur, (a world heritage site.) This temple was built around 1562 during the period of Mahendra Malla, where more than 64 sex symbols were made.
The temple is a place of respect, according to our tradition and culture. We all have faith in all the temples of God, but hearing and reading such words of a foreign visitor really makes it clear that they have not understood our art and culture to the deepest extent. Without knowing the reality and the core matter, foreign people and magazines write about these matters. But no action is shown by the government.
Beauty depends upon the viewers, in the same way that art has its own language in the way we view it. People looking with the wrong concept see the temple art as pornography while artists define it as a great masterpiece.
(Credit reporter: mr. Bishnu K.C )
Oct 28, 2011
There is a turning tide in Texas and it’s in the direction of comprehensive sex ed according to The Texas Tribune, a leading news source covering state politics.
Of course, this significant improvement in sex ed policies across the state didn’t happen by accident. These changes are the product of a concerted effort by the Texas Freedom Network, Advocates for Youth and many other dedicated groups and individuals.
Folks like Susan Tortolero, the director of the University of Texas’ Prevention Research Center in Houston, have even created comprehensive sex ed curriculum that is being adopted and implemented in some of the most unlikely of places. Better sex ed is beginning to be found in the suburbs of Houston and as far west as Midland, a typically conservative area. According to Tortolero:
“It’s like we’re beyond this argument of abstinence, abstinence plus. Districts want something that works.”
While many people still believe that talking about contraception gives children permission to have sex, or even encourages them to do so, Tortolero says research shows that teaching them about condoms and birth control actually delays sexual initiation.
“The more you know about your body, how to make better decisions and choices, the better decisions that adolescents make,” she said, adding, “The more we demystify it, the more we talk about it, the better.”
The Texas Freedom Network’s School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) initiative has been a significant part of this growing success. TFN is working with local activists across the state who serve on SHACs to advocate for comprehensive sex ed at the district level. As a result, sex education has been dramatically improved for 250,000 public school students in Texas. A number of our Texas CAMI youth participants are also serving on their SHACs and making a difference in places like Brownsville, Houston, Austin and El Paso.
Even the editorial board of The Houston Chronicle has caught on to this recent success to reform sex ed policy in Texas and recommends that the state continue to move in this direction.
There remain obstacles at the statewide level, despite this grassroots success. The Dallas Observer reports that Texas has declined to apply for Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) funding for the second year in a row. With the 3rd highest rate of teen births, and the 2nd highest percentage of repeat teen births, Texas sorely needs this federal funding for evidence-based programs.
Our expanded network of Texas Freedom Network Student Chapters, led by our CAMI youth members, has been an integral part of this movement for comprehensive sex ed. Some of the things they have accomplished so far include:
• Getting hundreds of Education Works petition signatures at petitions drives
• Hosting "Let’s Talk About Sex" film screenings on their campuses
• Tabling at various health fairs to grow membership and raise awareness
• Successfully lobbying Student Government Association at the University of Houston to pass a resolution in support of equal domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff
• Presenting as the only youth presenter on engaging young people in sex ed advocacy at the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy 2nd Annual Conference
And they have much more planned for the rest of the semester! I’ll update you again on the progress happening in Texas near the end of the year.
Oct 28, 2011
Day 31 of the 40 Days for Life Blogathon
In politics, (this year in particular) access to abortion is a frequently mentioned topic. Young people and sexuality is also a common topic, manifested as debates on sex education (hello Wisconson, yes I noticed you are using your special session on jobs to roll back sex education). While abortion and young people are often the main subjects of discussions on public policy and sex, rarely is access to abortion services for young people mentioned.
Only a small fraction of all abortions performed are among minors, 18% in the US to be exact. Regardless, access to abortion should be upheld for all women – even those under the age of 18. It is also important to keep in mind that 46% of US 9th through 12th grade students have ever had sex, yet many lack access to health information and contraceptives. Obviously lack of information, and services, combined with sexual activity could results in a need for access to abortion.
The main way abortion is limited to minors is through parental consent laws. 36 states require parental involvement in a minor’s access to abortion. Even though most states require parental consent, two Supreme Court decisions determined that there must be additional methods for minors to access abortion, if parental consent cannot be obtained. 35 states provide alternative methods for minors to access abortion. Exceptions to parental consent include circumstances of abuse, assault, neglect, incest or medical emergencies. Another process for minors to access abortion without parental consent is called a judicial bypass.
(Thank you Guttmacher for all these policy facts!)
Judicial bypass laws vary from state to state. In my home state of Ohio, a minor must obtain a court order from a judge, stating that she has enough information and is mature enough to make her own decision regarding abortion, or that the abortion is in her best interest.
I had the pleasure of sitting in on a radio interview of a woman who received a judicial bypass in Ohio when she was 17. Her story pointed out many of the problems with the judicial bypass system in our state. You can hear her full story here. Also, Voices and Choices, the radio show this interview was conducted on, is an amazing program, please listen to their other broadcasts and support them!
The women in the story had to travel to another city to meet with a judge about her judicial bypass, because the judge in her home town was known to be anti-choice. Also while trying to obtain her judicial bypass, she was given a manila envelope full of anti-choice literature, including misleading information about abortion and pregnancy. She was lucky to have a compassionate judge to meet with, and access to money and a car to drive out of town to meet with her.
This story points out that while the judicial system is supposed to be unbiased, still the beliefs of a judge about abortion will impact a minor’s ability to obtain a bypass. Also, there could be many instances in which the minor could be shamed, such as being provided misleading information about abortion. Finally, abortion is already stigmatized, and many women feel isolated through the experience of terminating a pregnancy. From hearing this story and others of friends, I feel that receiving a judicial bypass make the process even more isolating.
Her story also showed that it is difficult to obtain a judicial bypass. It takes time and money, something many young people do not have. When you hear real stories of women it is apparent the judicial bypass system is complex and definitely not just a rubber stamping process. This is not the view of current legislators in Ohio.
This month the Ohio General Assembly Ohio House passed further restrictions to the judicial bypass process. One member of the Ohio House Committee tried to attach a comprehensive sexual health education amendment to that legislation. The legislator argued that if you are going to make it harder for young people to access abortion, the state should then provide the information and services necessary to prevent pregnancy and inturn abortion. I sat in the hearing room and watched the majority of members in the committee vote down the amendment.
This demonstrates the disconnection between state legislators, and the needs of young people in our state. Surely they never heard the emotional and touching story from the voices and choices broadcast. Surely they never talked to young women who sought a judicial bypass after suffering physical and or sexual abuse within her family. These women live in their communities, and depend on them to implement policies that protect their well-being, and these legislators are failing them.
The reasons why a minor would seek out an abortion are varied and many, just like when adults seek abortions. I wish all young women had a home environment where it would be safe for her to share her need for abortion with her parents, but this is not always the case. This is why it is important to remember to advocate for the rights of not just women, but young women, to access complete and comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion.
Oct 25, 2011
by Tim Allen
In September, Tell Them’s SWARM Council flew to Washington DC to attend the 11th annual Urban Retreat sponsored by Advocates for Youth, a national group that champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Along with the South Carolina SWARM Council, 11 other organizations, domestic and international, gathered for the seminar and lobby day. In all there were 118 young people representing the youth of America, Jamaica, Nepal, Namibia and Nigeria.
The Council’s days were packed from breakfast at 7am till late into the evening. Council members analyzed how abstinence-only-until-marriage programs fail and how science-based education is the leading deterrent of unintended pregnancy, learned state and national policy and government structure, and even the ins and outs of lobbying. On September 12th we all broke up into our respective states and districts to lobby our Senators and Congressmen for continued funding for sex education and access to birth control.
The council reported having a great time sharing experiences and ideas with other young people from across the country. Many were surprised with the amount of information that was covered in such a short period of time. The council has made it back to their campuses and have begun to implement many of the techniques that they learned from the “Urban Retreat.” Be sure to follow their activity on the Buzz as we highlight their hard work!
This post was written by Tim Allen (pictured above) the Youth Activist Coordinator for Tell Them SWARM Council and cross posted from the following: blog.tellthemsc.org/2011/10/swarm-council-attends-urban-retreat-in-dc/
Oct 25, 2011
by Maria Jackson
This post was written by Maria Jackson (pictured above) who is a part of the Tell Them SWARM Council and cross posted from the following: blog.tellthemsc.org/2011/10/shocking-statistic-leads-to-prevention-ideas/
As a volunteer and mentor at a local after school program, I took a 2.5 hour Darkness to Light child sexual abuse prevention training geared towards stewards of children this weekend. It was startling and insightful. The statistics on sexual abuse are grim and depressing; it is so much more prevalent than I thought. This one in particular struck me:
More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experience of molestation, rape, or attempted rape.
It is astounding, complex, and eye-opening that all aspects of sexual health and understanding are so connected, isn’t it? It is sickening that children being preyed upon today later correlates with their likelihood to experience a teen pregnancy. It is sickening that either occur so prevalently in our world.
However, the training did not leave me with complete hopelessness. As an advocate of comprehensive sex education, my wheels started turning about how we, as a society, could prevent sexual abuse and teen pregnancy among our youth. The greatest aspect of comprehensive sex education is that it focuses on being age appropriate and expansive. While younger children learn about the correct terminology for their body parts, they can also talk about what is and is not appropriate touch. While older children learn about methods to protect their bodies from pregnancy and STIs, they will also learn about meaningful ways to give and withhold consent, and how to recognize and honor those wishes. Comprehensive sex education that focuses on preventing STIs and teen pregnancy absolutely works in tandem with healthy relationships and emotional/ physical protection from others.
This is one of many important ways that age appropriate, comprehensive sex education works with so many other important issues that need to be addressed in today’s society in regards to our youth’s health and safety. When youth feel comfortable talking about sexuality in an age appropriate, meaningful way, they are in a better position to assert their rights and talk to others when they do have questions about their bodies and lives.
To find more information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month: dvam.vawnet.org/about/index.php
Oct 24, 2011
I am member of Youth First Texas, a GLBT youth center in Dallas and Thursday we had a presentation by a manager from Aids Arms. It’s one of the few times I’ve had a comprehensive sex education lecture.
Darriane started with statistics and in Dallas county the largest age group with newly reported infections was 15 -24. Without fail and for every infection, this age group, my age group had the largest number of documented infections. This isn’t just my age group but almost everyone I know is in this age group, most of my best friends, one of my sisters, both of my gaybies.
She then asked us why are condoms not always used. One answer was they don’t feel the same. Another was putting on a condom kills the mood and another was condoms weren’t always available.
She answered these responses by bringing out a huge box of condoms, lubes, and a prop penis and vagina. She told us that condoms had changed and there were actually fun condoms. She had ribbed condoms and condoms that glowed in the dark, flavored lube and numbing lube, female condoms and dental dams. She challenged us to try them and see if they weren’t fun. She showed up condoms with looser plastic around the head that were called "the pleasure dome." She said see if a game of "hide and come get it" kills the mood.
She told us about waiting and how it too is an important aspect of sex. She talked about cases were the age difference was a huge factor and a legal issue. There was a lot of information and a lot of laughs and at the end of the presentation she let us have our picks of the condoms and lube. It was funny seeing parents and volunteers taking some of the equipment too.
Oct 24, 2011
Frida [my daughter] and I
6:00 a.m. I wake up to do homework (mostly reading; upper level history courses require a lot of reading)
8:00 a.m. I wake up my daughter
8:30 a.m. We eat breakfast
10:00 a.m. I go to the university with Frida doing things (speaking to professors, making reservations, holding meetings) for the two organizations I am leading (Texas Freedom Network and Scorpion Historical Society)
12:00 p.m. I am home eating lunch with Frida
1:00 p.m. Frida is asleep and I am doing homework again
3:00 p.m. Frida wakes up from her “short” nap
4:00 p.m. We go outside to play or take photos with my camera
6:00 p.m. I read my history book aloud to Frida (Information is better retained when I hear myself reading material)
7:00 p.m. We eat dinner!
8:00 p.m. We watch Nick Jr or Yo Gabba Gabba (I have learned to love this show!)
9:30 p.m. Story Time! Frida and I sit on the rocking chair and read four books, two in English and two in Spanish (She loves Whoever You Are/Quienquiera Que Seas)
Awesome book! It teaches children about cultural competency and it is both in English and Spanish.
11:00 p.m. Frida is asleep
11:20-1:00 a.m. I am doing homework
1:15 a.m. I am asleep
5:30 a.m. I awake to do some last minute reading
8:00 a.m. Frida is awake
8:30 a.m. We are eating breakfast
8:40 a.m. I head to school and Frida stays with my mother
9:25 a.m.-4:20 p.m. Foundations of Public Service, Afro Caribbean History, and the French Revolution
4:30 p.m. I return to my baby
6:00 p.m. I am doing homework
7:00 p.m. We eat dinner!
8:00 p.m. We color in her big sketch pad
9:30 p.m. Story Time!
11:00 p.m. Frida is asleep
11:20-1:00 a.m. I am doing homework
1:15 a.m. I am asleep
This helps at times!
Oct 24, 2011
I watched a movie last night called “Christopher and His Kind,” a film based on the book by Christopher Isherwood about his time in Berlin, Germany in the 1930s. Before the Nazis came to power, Berlin was actually a pretty liberal place. In his time there, Isherwood was able to explore and express his sexuality in a relatively free manner. He lived in a boarding house and, while each of the tenants knew he was gay, no one treated him any differently.
I was interesting, and a little chilling, though, as the film moved further into the decade to witness the ever increasing rise of oppression as the Nazis gained prominence. The film showed this in sometimes subtle yet always powerful ways- Berlin was changing, and as it did you could feel the new sense of danger that Isherwood and the other characters faced.
One scene that was particularly striking for me was the book burning. It reached me on so many levels. I love to read- I read fiction and non-fiction in a variety of genres and I hate to think that any of the books I’ve read may have been deemed dangerous. I love to read because it’s an opportunity for me to learn, whether from intellectual curiosity or by experiencing the world from another point of view. Limiting horizons is always dangerous, and not allowing people the full scope of literature limits that person’s ability to understand the variety of human experience. Having access to books was especially important during the setting of the film because this was before television and decades before the internet could be used as a source of information.
It was also difficult to watch the book burning because you were experiencing it through the eyes of a writer. Not only that, but you could feel the fear that the burning represented. Berlin was no longer an open-minded place where Isherwood and his boyfriend were free to go about their lives. As the fire burned the books, it also tore away the sense that anything was going to remain the same.
But third, and more generally, the book burning made me think about how we value knowledge and why we sometimes set up parameters to the access of it. I see this most clearly in our country’s approach to sex education. Abstinence-only programs, which, aside from being proved to not delay sexual experiences or to lower rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancy, have been roved to give misleading and inaccurate information, enforce dangerous gender stereotypes, and ignore the needs of LGB and gender-variant youth.
Why does this happen? Why has over $1 billion of federal funds (generated by tax payers) gone toward these at best inadequate and at worse harmful programs? Why is scientifically accurate information about sexual health viewed as dangerous knowledge for young people to have? Why is a curriculum that is inclusive of LGBT youth and youth with disabilities deemed inappropriate? Why are we afraid of the truth and why are we afraid to face the realities of teen sexuality and a young person’s interest and need to learn about their body and health ways to navigate sexual relationships?
Isn’t it better to give people the tools, resources, and support to make healthy decisions than to keep this knowledge from them or limit the information they are given in an attempt to make them act according to someone else’s moral code? Knowledge isn’t about morals. And shouldn’t a point of sexuality education be about making and following your own rules?
Today we realize that burning books is a bad thing. People still try to get them banned, but generally the larger population realizes how backwards, small-minded, and fearful such attempts are. Yet too many people in decision-making positions still insist that restricting knowledge on something as relevant as sexuality is the preferred way to go. Maybe if they read a few books about it they would start to feel differently.
Oct 15, 2011
become healthy, safe, responsible adults."
On Tuesday, October 11, Sting Radio, our university’s radio, hosted College Radio Day. My organization, the Texas Freedom Network, had the chance to participate in this awesome event. We had a small petition drive for comprehensive sex education and it was a good turnout for the hour that we were there. We utilized petitions provided by Education Works. There were a little over 20 petitions signed. However, we did encounter some opposition! Some people believe that youth should know the consequences of having sex. Simple, if you become pregnant or acquire an sti or std, it is YOUR fault. It is very unfortunate to know that people think like that.
Texans, you can sign the petition here!
"The Education Works coalition believes teenagers need honest information to make responsible choices about sex. The Education Works coalition is working to ensure that schools teach sexual health with a medically accurate and balanced approach – teaching abstinence along with facts about contraception and responsible decision-making."
Link to Education Works:
Oct 13, 2011
Yesterday I had my first Pizza Protection Party (PPP). If you are not familiar with the work of the South Carolina Youth Activists, we educate our peers using Facebook, Twtter, and we conduct education sessions with our peers to educate them on sexual health including contraception. During each of our education sessions, we use really innovative and creative methods, including games, to educate; we also provide FREE pizza… hence where the clever “Pizza Protection Party” title comes in!
For my first PPP I had the opportunity to educate a class of high school juniors and seniors. It was a very rewarding experience because the class was very interactive within the entire presentation. The way the participants played the educational games and asked questions, I could tell they were fully engaged in the discussion.
Oct 9, 2011
Teenage pregnancy calls for the attention of Ghanaians. At the end of the academic year when students take their Basic Education Certification Examination (BECE), we often hear on the news about some girls turning up to write their papers pregnant. Statistics differ in different regions of Ghana; for example in the Eastern region alone, 33 females failed to sit their exam as a result of pregnancy in 2009.
The Western region also recorded 572 teenage pregnancies with girls as young as 10 getting pregnant and dropping out of schools. In the Ashanti Region at least 5 girls have sat their BECE while pregnant and a minimum of 3 have entered written their papers as mothers. The average age of these girls is 12. The statistics are much higher and worrisome in other regions of Ghana.
Unfortunately teenagers who get pregnant are solely blamed for their condition. They become “bad girl” at the mercy of societies scorn. Instead of providing a support system they are punished, some are kicked out of their homes while others are ridiculed by the hour. One would think perhaps it is possible for girls to get pregnant all by themselves. In recent news, a mother in the Northern region butchered her 22 year old pregnant daughter. Murder suddenly becomes less of a crime in the eyes of a disappointed mother as though pregnancy ever where a crime.
Teenage births form a high percentage of the total births in the country. Poor education on sexual health and reproductive health rights is wrecking the lives of many girls in Ghana. The nonexistence of a supportive system for pregnant girls encourages unsafe abortions, complications and deaths. Good nutritional therapy and ante-natal care is often not mentioned as rights for pregnant girls. Many girls and women after giving birth are not able to continue their education. Without encouraging teenage girls to get pregnant, I insist that teenage pregnancy is not a crime and should not be a burden of the girl alone. Sex education and making condoms accessible to both girls and boys is the best way to reduce the rates of teen pregnancy.
Oct 5, 2011
by Aaron Guest
While having the wonderful opportunity to catch up with an old friend over dinner just recently, and as we chatted away about the goings and happenings of our collegiate lives, the topic of conversation turned into what we were currently involved with outside of our academic work. This of course was filled with the general and mundane topics of football, dating, applying for grad school, etc. It was when I brought up my involvement with advocating for reproductive rights and age appropriate comprehensive sex education that my friend, with an inquisitive look in her eye asked “Really? Why do you care? That really doesn’t affect you does it?”
That got me thinking, on the surface it must be odd that I advocate for this. I after all am male, so I assume people do not see me getting pregnant anytime soon, which means I also probably am not purchasing on birth control. As well, as someone who is preparing for graduate school, I am not being taught in a public school so why should I care?
I believe this points towards two of the horrid misconceptions about comprehensive sex education and reproductive rights. Those being that it is a “women’s issue” and that of since we are removed from the issue, in this case not being taught in the public school, that we should not care. Both of these however could not be further from the truth! The fight for reproductive rights is just as much a fight for men as it is for women! It after all takes two to procreate. That being the case both of the individuals involved should have correct, informed, scientific based information about what they are doing, what could happen, and what are their options. It is only when all parties involved are informed that factually based decisions can be made. Simply because men cannot get pregnant, or that we do not need to have access to birth control (of which condoms are a form of thank you very much) we should not care. No! We should care just as much! Reproductive rights are not simply something that we should associate with women; they are something we all have the right to, and something we should all have the option to exercise.
As for the argument that since some of us advocating for change are removed from “ground zero” or the school’s themselves we should not care, I ask, do you plan to live forever? We are educating our future. We are educating those that will one day, during our lifetime, rise into positions of power and leadership. I believe, and want, the youth of tomorrow to be more informed than me. I want them to have greater access to information than me. I want them to have greater opportunities for advancement than me. I of course want all of this for myself, but I believe we must work; it is our duty to work, to make their lives better and superior to our own.
As for why do I advocate? Well I advocate because I, nor my friends, had access to comprehensive sexual education. I advocate for all of my friends who became pregnant or were diagnosed with a sti due to being uniformed. I advocate for my brother and sister, so that they may receive a better and more accurate education than I. Finally, and most selfishly, I advocate for myself, so that my peers will have access to scientifically correct information, and so that I can create a more informed and more educated world.
This post was written by Aaron Guest (pictured above) who is a part of the Tell Them SWARM Council and cross posted from the following: blog.tellthemsc.org/2011/10/why-i-advocate/
Oct 4, 2011
How can situations for the LGBT community get better? We have heard of so many young teens taking their lives because of the bullying via at school or on the internet because no one understands there lifestyle. Ive come to conclude that healthy sexuality is a very important practice if we choose to be intimate with someone. Such advocacy groups like www.itgetsbetter.org advocate that we need to be optimistic and hope for a better tomorrow for people living with ridicule for who they are. And though they maintain a very optimistic view for the future, the future starts today and promoting gayness with equality needs to be promoted in society.
I feel by addressing not only heterosexual but gay/lesbian-friendly comprehensive sex education in public schools it would help students enrich their view on homosexuality. My only concern is for the boy students who usually ridicule gay teens more because that male feels he is obligated to tease this gay student because that humiliation makes the perpetrator feel more dominant and higher.
The possible outcome of this theory would be that comprehensive sex education reaches out to a more diverse crowd and can help lead the way to safer sex practices and by students getting a better understanding of more sexual orientations in a public sphere they can overcome that bigotry that is within them to tolerate and accept them (gay/lesbian) for who they are. But on the downfall, this theory would need a lot of operation power to get results that can answer this. Also the fact that it means we need to change the ideas of masculinity so boys wont call gay students “Sissy’s”.
This sounds like a great idea for people who consider themselves to be progressive, but this idea of teaching LGBT sex-ed in schools would anger parents and would be a long outreach to the schools boards. But I think with a positive generation and strong advocacy we can make the changes we like to see and hope people live in a society and be free from shame and pain for who they are.
Sep 29, 2011
Earlier today Congressional Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee released the details of their annual funding bill covering both health and education programs. The GOP is already trumpeting the measure loudly and proudly: Representative Denny Rehberg, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, calls it a "common-sense plan" that "invest[s] in people and creat[es] the jobs they need."
But this bill contains zero job creation programs. In reality, it’s simply the latest catch-all product of the House Republicans’ slash-and-burn strategy, which operates via the axiom that it’s o.k. to selectively devastate women and young people if it means that you can provide that much more greasy patronage and taxpayer money to your ideological backers.
Putting it another way, it’s deficit hypocrisy at its finest.
Take for example, the bill’s gutting of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), a program enacted in 2010 under President Obama’s budget. TPPI provides funding for community-based and science-based education to reduce teen pregnancy. It is, through and through, an economically sensible initiative, given that teen pregnancy currently costs U.S. taxpayers $9 billion each year.
House Republicans, though, are seeking to cut TPPI funding from $105 to $40 million. What’s more, they’ve mandated that 50% of this new funding — $20 million — go towards further disseminating abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in schools across the U.S., despite a definitive 10-year Congressionally mandated evaluation which emphasized that these programs have no impact on teen behavior whatsoever. In real terms, then, what we actually see proposed here is a drastic $85 million cut to TPPI alongside $20 million in new careless spending.
These politicians — whose leadership earlier today bragged that they are yet again "taking decisive action to cut duplicative, inefficient, and wasteful spending" — are the current standard-bearers for an ideology that has so far pumped $1.5 billion of taxpayer money into a veritable abstinence-only-until-marriage boondoggle.
Instead of supporting fiscally responsible comprehensive sex education, Congressional right-wingers have repeatedly bankrolled a false pedagogy which has involved, among other lessons of moral upbuilding, forcing young students to drink their own spit in front of their classmates (literally and we kid you not — see the video below for a transcript from an actual abstinence-only lesson plan):
And that’s only one thing. If passed, the GOP’s health and education funding bill would also zero out Title X completely. Title X grantees provide crucial services (including STD testing; pelvic exams; HIV testing; pregnancy testing; screenings for cervical and breast cancer; and screenings for high blood pressure, anemia, and diabetes) to more than five million individuals across the country.
The House spending bill also specifically goes after the largest Title X provider, Planned Parenthood, eliminating all funding to any Planned Parenthood affiliate unless the organization "certifies it will not provide abortions." Such a move represents a replay of the GOP’s brinksmanship from this Spring, when Congressional Republicans tried to kill off Planned Parenthood and marginalize the millions of women, men, and families that it serves.
Finally, the bill extends the Hyde Amendment (which all but forbids the use of federal funds for abortion, therefore blocking needy women in particular from accessing affordable care) to cover the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. President Obama already issued an Executive Order in March 2010 asserting that the federal government would not allow federal funds to be used for abortion services, but the above-mentioned proposal would further cement this prohibition as the legal status quo.
While one can doubt that Congress will approve any of the above — i.e., assuming that anything above reaches the firebreak of the Democratic-controlled Senate — it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario in which House Republicans successfully undermine at least some of these comprehensive health programs (either through procedural stealth or else a fake appeal to shared economic sacrifice). Yes, millions of people told truth to power when Planned Parenthood’s life was at stake earlier this year, but the same kind of nationwide awareness just isn’t there yet in regards to vital and unsung programs like the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. Those who care about their reproductive rights and their right to basic health care must pay all due vigilance to the entire horizon of attack. And we must do everything we can to bring attention to the GOP’s deficit deceptions.
Sep 29, 2011
Here is a video I made regarding my first meeting with the SHAC.
A SHAC (School Health Advisory Council) consists of community members (mostly parents). The law requires each school district to have a SHAC. The purpose of a SHAC is to make recommendations to the school board concerning health education. Consquently, sex education falls within health education.
Here is the link for more infomartion on SHACs
April Flores is a student at the University of Texas at Brownsville. As a part of the Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative, April leads a Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter on her campus in order to advocate for comprehensive sex ed.
Sep 28, 2011
Teenagers who receive any kind of sex education — whether it’s comprehensive or abstinence-only — are more likely to delay sexual intercourse until after they turn 15, according to a new report.
But some sexual health experts worry that the study’s failure to distinguish between comprehensive and abstinence-only approaches could give the public the wrong idea about the efficacy of simply telling kids not to have sex.
In the study, released Wednesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed responses from more than 2,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.
They found that boys in this age bracket who received formal sex education — either in schools, churches or community organizations — were 71 percent less likely to have sex before age 15. Girls aged 15 to 19 who received formal sex education were 59 percent less likely to have sex before age 15.
Formal sex education also seems to lead to safer sex, the study found. Males attending school who had received sex education were almost three times more likely to use birth control the first time they had sex — though no such associations were found among females.
"Formal sex education was particularly beneficial for youth who are traditionally considered to be at high risk for adverse sexual health outcomes, such as sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies," says lead study author Trisha Mueller, an epidemiologist at the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health.
"Sex education should be continued to be supported in formal settings, such as schools, and to be the most effective, should occur before youth engage in sexual intercourse for the first time."
Sexual health experts not affiliated with the study say it is an important addition to continuing evidence that sex education works to promote healthier behaviors.
"This study expands on studies that have shown that sexuality education can delay the onset of sexual intercourse — once again dispelling the myth that early sexuality education might increase sexual activity," explains Eli Coleman, director of the program in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School. "This study shows that sexuality education leads to more responsible sexual behavior."
Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle, agrees.
"I am thrilled to have this study because it confirms, in some ways, the bottom-line fact: talking about sex, and giving information about sex, makes kids more thoughtful about it and more likely to be able to form a moral code and plan of action — rather than unconscious reaction."
Abstinence Only vs. Comprehensive
But the fact that the study does not differentiate between comprehensive and abstinence-only programs gives some experts pause.
"It is unfortunate that this study did not look carefully at the potential differences in efficacy between comprehensive and abstinence-only sexuality education," Coleman says.
Mueller says that since the analysis was based on the 2002 survey data — which asked participants whether they had "ever received any formal instruction on how to say ‘no’ to sex" and whether they had ever received formal education on birth control methods — the researchers’ ability to distinguish between types of sex education was limited.
"We agree that it would be extremely useful to compare the effect of abstinence-only education to comprehensive sex education," she says. "However, we decided not to do so in this analysis because we felt that the question related to ‘how to say no to sex’ was a poor proxy measure for abstinence-only education. … For this reason, we have chosen to look at any sex education versus no sex education for the purposes of this manuscript."
Coleman adds that past research still points to comprehensive sex education as the healthiest approach.
"From other research, the findings are clear," he says. "Comprehensive sexuality education approaches are effective in delaying the onset of sexual activity and have the advantage of increasing the likelihood of individuals acting responsibly by protecting themselves and their partners by using condoms and other forms of contraceptives to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies."
Sep 28, 2011
Reproductive rights are human rights with which every woman is endowed with as basic rights. Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.
Although there are many laws defining so many rights related to reproductive health issues of women, they are seldom implemented. There are still pressures from families and communities to have or not to have children; and concerning feeding practices. Wider extent of violence against women has made them the vulnerable group even unable to protect their fundamental rights of living life.
Lack of access to the health related facilities and unequal status of men and women has made the reproductive rights a distant dream.
Marriage, pregnancy and motherhood are health and social issues. Despite the fact that early childbearing has a major effect on the health of both mother and child, marriage occurs relatively early in Nepal and women often face extreme cultural and social pressure to demonstrate their fertility soon after marriage.
The median age at first marriage among Nepalese women is 17.2 years and for men it is 20.2 years. Similarly, the median age at first birth is 19.9 years and almost one fourth of women have their first child before reaching age 18 (NDHS, 2006).
Childhood mortality is substantially higher among children born to mothers who are under 20 years of age (NDHS, 2006) and women who become pregnant during adolescence are between two and five times more likely to die in childbirth than their older counterparts (WHO, 2003).
Marriage is nearly universal in Nepal, with girls marrying at an early age. Sexual debut for the vast majority of girls occur during adolescence and within the context of marriage. Moreover, early marriage means that child bearing often occurs during adolescence before reaching physical maturity. Demographic and Health Survey data indicate that 52 percent of girls have begun child bearing by age of 20. Early childbearing is an important contributing factor to high maternal mortality, at 539 maternal deaths per 100,000 births; Nepal had the highest maternal mortality ratio in South Asia.(Ed Note: Explore childhood mortality around the world at gapminder.org.)
Although extensive research on young people’s needs and behaviors in Nepal is rare, existing data indicate that people do not have adequate access to appropriate information and services about sexual and reproductive health issues. Little sex education is provided in schools, and both sex and reproductive health are not topics openly discussed in families.
Girls are in a particularly vulnerable position because they have less access to formal institutional structures (such as schools and health care systems) than do boys, and are unlikely to be incorporated into or receive accurate information through informal communication networks.
Furthermore the design and delivery of appropriate services for adolescents has been constrained by long-held traditional beliefs and ideologies. As a result of inadequate or ineffective services and information, young people often experience negative reproductive health consequences, including unplanned pregnancies and HIV and AIDS.
Reproductive health programs have acquired importance in Nepal in recent times with government plans emphasizing population and reproductive health issues. A wide range of issues fall under reproductive heath including issues related to family planning, safe motherhood, maternal and child health, HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive rights among others.
Though issues related to reproductive health care, especially family planning have received attention in the development plans of Nepal since 1968, much needs to be done to make reproductive health care services available throughout the country. The ninth development plan (1997-2002) laid special emphasis in reducing population growth and making quality family planning and maternal and child health services readily available and accessible. The tenth plan has made family planning and reproductive health a priority program.
The strategy adopted for the implementation of the program is to provide preventive and curative health services for all. The tenth plan clearly spells out the activities to be launched to improve the reproductive health of the population.
According to the population census of CBS (2001), females occupy more than fifty percent of the total population in Nepal. The data still add that only 42.8% female are literate and maternal mortality rate is very high, food, nutrition, health, education and all sorts of consumption pattern of male and female are widely different.
The UN has defined the status of women in the context of their access of knowledge, economic resources and political power as well as their personal autonomy in the process of decision making. When we analyze these numbers in that light, the picture of Nepalese women is generally bleak.
Among the two broadly classified groups of the Nepalese population according to its origin: The Indo-Aryan the Tibeto-Bruman group. Previous studies suggest that the Hindu Women of Aryan origin are more suppressed than their Tibeto-Burman counterparts (UNFPA, 1998). Few studies, like that of Majupuria (1982) and Cameron (1998) suggest that among the Hindu Aryan group, the high caste women suffer more from traditional biases and discriminatory practices, as it is the higher caste families who are unwilling to change their traditional ideologies and way of life.
Lack of recognition of reproductive health problems by women themselves is considered as the major barrier to RH service delivery. One of the underlying problems is that women do not know what their needs are and as a result are not able to make demands. Therefore it is imperative to raise the level of awareness of women so that they are able to make demands in their right to RH care.
Establishing facilitated women groups in different areas can prove to be a major success in providing health educations to women. Women respond more when they are actively participating in the group.
Sep 24, 2011
so i was helping my cousin with her sex education home work on contraceptives and "ran" into this article and i decided to share. hope you find it informative… i certainly did.
Increased condom use in Jamaica.
Figueroa JP, Brathwaite AR, Samiel S, Weller P, Byfield L, Wedderburn M; International Conference on AIDS.
Int Conf AIDS. 1994 Aug 7-12; 10: 280 (abstract no. PC0495).
Epidemiology Unit, Ministry of Health, Kingston, Jamaica W.I.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of condom promotion programs by estimating condom use among Jamaican adults between 1988 and 1993. METHODS: Three National KAP surveys were conducted in 1988, 1989 and 1993. In each survey between 1120 and 1200 adults aged 15-49 years were randomly selected with approximately equal numbers of males and females interviewed. RESULTS: Unprompted knowledge of condoms as a method to prevent AIDS increased from 25% of the sample in 1988 to 63% in 1989 and 81% in 1993. Ever use of condoms increased from 53% in 1989 to 79% in 1993. Consistent condom use (every time or most times) with one’s main partner increased from 27% in 1989 to 41% in 1993. Condom use was higher among the younger adults, those who were single and with secondary partners. Some 41% of respondents were of the view that "condoms are used only by persons with many partners" and 14% felt that condoms are embarrassing to use. The number of persons reporting two or more sex partners in the past four-weeks showed little change between 1988 and 1993 (11%, 17%, 14% respectively). DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Awareness of AIDS and how it is prevented is high in Jamaica (over 90%) and condom use has increased due to sustained condom promotion programs. All sexually active adults are encouraged to use the condom everytime. Nevertheless, there remains a significant number of persons with multiple sex partners who do not use condoms.
i know its a bit random but i found it fun =D
Sep 24, 2011
Comprehensive education aims to reduce the risks of potentially negative outcomes from sexual behavior, such as unwanted or unplanned pregnancies and infection with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. It also aims to contribute to young people’s positive experience of their sexuality.
The research has shown it time and time again: Abstinence-only education doesn’t affect the rates at which teenagers decide to have sex. Given that the primary purpose of abstinence-only education is to do exactly that, it is clear that it doesn’t work. Comprehensive sex education doesn’t discourage kids from having sex either, but at least it does teach them how to do so more safely.
Boys Want to Be Men, So Teach Them to Be Good Men
Part of staying healthy is seeking appropriate health care. As males age, many of them stop going for preventative health care, which limits the opportunities they have to be screened for, among other things, STDs. A recent study in Pediatrics found that parents who talk to their male children about sex are more likely to have boys who go to the doctor. It’s all about setting a good example. One of the biggest risk factors for not seeking care is holding traditional views about masculinity. It’s important that young men learn early that taking care of their health is one of the most manly things they can do.
Sep 24, 2011
Every ten minutes a teen in Texas becomes pregnant.
“The more you know about your body, how to make better decisions and choices, the better decisions that adolescents make,” she said, adding, “The more we demystify it, the more we talk about it, the better.”
Susan Tortolero, Director of the University of Texas’ Prevention Research Center in Houston
AO programs teach that adolescents should abstain from sex until they are married to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, they do not teach about safe sex. These programs are not medically accurate and there is no evidence that they actually work.
A+ programs do promote abstinence as the best method to prevent unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. However, unlike AO programs, A+ programs acknowledge that teenagers (not all) ARE or WILL BE sexually active. Also, they teach about contraceptives and include discussions regarding contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
In short, the rate of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and diseases among adolescents is a growing problem in Texas and it will continue to increase if we do not implement comprehensive sex education. Adolescents are bound to make more responsible choices concerning sex if we provide them with medically accurate information. Lastly, adolescents will receive the knowledge that can potentially save their lives.
On a last note, just because abstinence worked for Texas Governor Rick Perry, it does not mean that it will work for someone else.
Link to the Texas Tribune article, written by Morgan Smith:
Link to information regarding A+ programs:
Sep 15, 2011
A few weeks ago I attended a fundraiser for Senator Sherrod Brown with my best friend, Ashley. It was a great opportunity to talk with the senior senator from Ohio, as well as meet other individuals across the state who have the same values as myself. The event was a lot of fun with great food and company, and when Senator Brown arrived he took the time to speak with every single person in the room. He asked where we were from, what we do, what issues we care about, and what we plan to do about these issues. When he addressed the entire group, he spoke of the issues that matter to me most – reproductive rights, age-appropriate comprehensive sex education, women’s health, access to birth control, and other social justice issues. His primary focus was on these topics as the majority of the audience was also supportive of Planned Parenthood.
Brown’s speech really got me thinking about the importance of researching candidates and finding the one whose values line up with your own. I was one of those voters in the past who didn’t really care about senators and representatives; I thoughtfully considered my choice for president, but honestly did not even know who was running for congress until I got to the polls. Reflecting on that now, all I can say was, “Holy cow, what was I thinking?!” Congress has all the power – they are the ones who pass the bills on to the President to be signed. If Congress doesn’t pass something, the President doesn’t even get the option of saying “yes” or “no.” If anything, the people you vote into congress are more influential on your daily life than the President. (That statement is not to de-value the Office of the President of the United States, just simply acknowledging that when it comes to policies passing or failing — Congress is basically in control.)
From here on out, I am vowing to be an educated voter & I encourage you to do the same. Research the politicians — in BOTH parties. Don’t base your decision off of what the media has told you (as we all know, many news stations are very bias and twist facts around to poorly reflect the truth about the candidates’ views.) Go to the wonderful thing I like to call Google, and look up voting records for different candidates on the issues you care about. If you were wondering about the views of a few of our oh so wonderful members of Congress from Ohio…
– Representative Jim Jordan (District 4: North Central Ohio/Marion area for those of you from home) – Voted YES to defund Planned Parenthood
– Representative John Boehner (District 8: Southwest Ohio) – Voted YES to defund Planned Parenthood
– Representative Steve Stivers (District 15: Central Ohio/Columbus area) – Voted YES to defund Planned Parenthood
– Senator Rob Portman (Senators represent the entire state) – Voted YES to defund Planned Parenthood
– Senator Sherrod Brown (again — represents us all) – Voted NO to defund Planned Parenthood
….So of all the people representing me & the areas in which I reside in the state of Ohio, only ONE stood by Planned Parenthood & voted "no" when the bill was proposed to take away their funding. This issue is VERY important to me & these voting records will most definitely influence my decisions on who I vote for in the coming years.
Don’t just vote because it’s the trendy thing to do & you want a free sticker. Vote because you care. Vote because it matters. Vote with knowledge.