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In May, I started a petition to get condoms into my highschool’s nurses office. Although I had support from many peers, I also recieved many negative questions. Finally I realized that many people don’t see contriceptives in a positive way. They look down apon them, especially when teenagers are using them. My first thought was, How can these parents, teachers, and senators look down on teenagers for getting pregnant when they have taught them all along that contreceptives are bad? When I asked this question to a teacher she snapped back at me " Well children shouldn’t be having sex in the first place!" The reality is that these " children" don’t feel like children anymore and they ARE having sex. They want to have these experiences and if the adults in their lives have not taught them how to have these experiences safe and controlled, than they will not be. Another statement I have heard many times before is "Giving teeneagers condoms is giving them permission!" To me, this phrase is like saying " Giving teenagers umbrellas will make it rain!" Having the protection does not encourage the action. If someone wants to have sex, 9 times out of 10, they will, rather they have contreceptives or not. 

Categories: Condoms, Uncategorized
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 I had the opportunity to attend the National Election States Strategies #NESS2012 over the weekend a training led by General Alliance. The training was geared towards teaching  strategies on how to organize our movements successfully, and how to collaborate with others organizations.  In this training, I learned valuable strategies on how to make our voice heard  and obtain comprehensive sexual education in Broward County Schools.One of those lessons, being to speak the value of our message to be able to connect with parents, and therefore get their support to achieve our goals in Broward County Schools.  

After this training,  I  look forward to work with other organizations who are ready to Support and help voice out our message. I  personally look forward to continuing our mission to obtain the sexual education that all young people need. 
 

Categories: Uncategorized
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By Esther Agbarakwe and Kim Lovell

There’s an African proverb which says “when you’re dancing in the village square, it’s the onlookers who can judge whether you’re dancing well or not.”

As the UN negotiations at Rio+20 unfold this week, youth advocates will be watching the “dance” to see if sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are recognized for their contribution to sustainable development.

Eighteen years ago, 179 countries met in Cairo for the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The outcome of the conference was a twenty-year Programme of Action recognizing that every person counts, and that population is not about numbers but about people and their quality of life. It was a milestone in the history of population and development, as well as in the history of women’s rights.

Just over a month ago, at the 45th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD), member states issued a bold resolution in support of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and human rights.

Yet in the negotiating text of the outcome document for Rio+20, the inclusion of these rights is still uncertain. Language on family planning is hotly contested – at risk of being removed from the final draft – and SRHR issues are not mentioned at all.

If ICPD and CPD showed a commitment by world leadership to achieve a better quality of life for all, what will Rio+20 show?

At the COP 17 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa last November, lead US negotiator Jonathan Pershing was asked about the lack of attention given to sexual and reproductive health and rights and contraceptive access in the climate negotiations. Mr. Pershing was quick to admit the importance of these services for women, communities, and the planet, but expressed doubt that they would come up formally due to the ‘controversial’ nature of the issue. “Take this to Rio” he recommended.

Along with other bloggers, organizers, young people, NGO representatives, and government officials from around the world, we will be taking these issues to Rio indeed. And we have to ask – how controversial is a woman’s right to make decisions about her health and childbearing, a right that will improve her life and that of her children, in addition to the health of her community and the sustainability of her planet?

Representatives from the Sierra Club, Advocates for Youth, The Youth Coalition, SustainUS, Population Action International, and the government of Sri Lanka agree that there should be no controversy in ensuring the health and rights of people in every community, especially young people. On June 19th, these groups will be coming together to host a side event highlighting the voices and experiences of youth from around the world in dealing with the intersection of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and sustainable development in their home communities. From Brazil to the Philippines, young leaders recognize that the ability to manage resources, participate in income-generating activities, procure water, stay healthy, and contribute to community decision making are inextricably linked to one’s access to reproductive health services.

Our planet has already hit the 7 billion mark, and the largest-ever generation of young people are worried and wondering what the older generations have been doing. We’re looking for a sustainable space where families, communities and societies can live harmoniously with the environment in a just and sustainable manner. This is not about science and numbers, but about people, their rights and the future of their great-grandchildren.

These young people aren’t the only ones who ‘get it,’ which is why Rio+20 is already shaping up to bring unprecedented attention to gender, women’s rights, and sexual and reproductive health in the context of sustainability. Dr. Carmen Barroso, head of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Western Hemisphere Region, spoke at an event at the Woodrow Wilson Center shortly before leaving for Brazil, where she emphasized the links between IPPF’s work and that of the conservation, sustainable development, and climate communities. Dr. Barroso sees the inclusion of these themes and connections in Rio to be largely tied to youth involvement, stating that “young people are demanding their place at the table.”

Heads of state from around the world will indeed be dancing in the village square next week, and it’s up to us to judge if they’re dancing well or not. We don’t yet know if the formal negotiations in Rio will take up sexual and reproductive health and rights as they contribute to community development and sustainability. The recent announcement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – a champion for women’s health and rights – will be leading the US delegation is a positive sign, but does not mean the necessary attention will be given to these important human rights connections. Yet regardless of formal inclusion, the efforts of health, conservation, population, and youth organizations will ensure that SRHR issues are elevated as essential to developing a plan for a more sustainable planet in the future. If they don’t dance well, we will.

Esther Agbarakwe is an international advocacy fellow at Population Action International and Kim Lovell is the Program Director for the Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program. Follow Esther and Kim at @estherclimate and @SCPopEnviro for updates on coverage of SRHR issues at the conference.

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Youth participation is very important in any UN meetings and world conferences especially when the topic is about US youth. During the 6th World Youth Congress, some delegates were not able to make it due to travel funding constraints since it is now covered by the congress organizers due to lack of funding. As most of the delegates that I have talked with said, the cost of coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is so expensive that they have to ask money from their parents or shell out from their own savings because even their governments are not supportive of their participation. A fellow Filipino, Biengente Manalo, Jr. sold t-shirts just to raise funds in coming here to Brazil. His story was so inspiring that he was invited to speak in the Opening Ceremony of the youth congress. You’re so inspiring kapatid!

Bien’s success story may not reflect the lot of other delegates…

but…

…when heavens connive with luck, miracles do happen! 

Patrice Renee Harris was one of the fabulous youth congress delegate I have ever met in Sitio das Pedras. Lively and vivacious, Patrice is one of the people that reminds me of my friend O’rain Edwards from Jamaica who rocked Durban with me, Mimi, and Blessing during the COP 17. A teacher by profession, Patrice is the Caribbean Community (CariCom) Ambassador (Alternate) under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment of the Government of St. Christopher and Nevis (or better known alternatively as St. Kitts and Nevis). She is also a Youth Parliamentarian in her country, something that I always missed out in the past two National Youth Parliaments in my country due to unforseen circumstances. Her story of how she was able to make it to the congress is unique and inspiring. After not securing funding back home, she e-mailed Peace Child International, the conference organizers about her predicament and by a stroke luck, she found herself with a plane ticket and was able to fly from Basseterre down to Rio!

Again, Bien and Patrice’s success stories cannot hide the fact that there is lack of participation of young people in global events like what’s happening now in Brazil due to lack of funding and support especially in the case of Small Island Developing States. Most of the time these countries can send at most one or two delegates or no delegate at all. This is disappointing since this is Rio+20, a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that addresses issues on sustainability, no youth is present to voice the sentiments back home. And even if there is, they are not part of the Official Government Delegations. Most of them do not have a young person in their delegations. On a positive note, Brazil has four young people in their delegation, something to emulate for those who have non!

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We are looking for an energetic, self-directed, and organized Communications and Special Events Intern. Working closely with the Manager of Communications and PR and the Director of Strategic Communications, the person in this position will assist in implementation and planning to support Advocates for Youth with their summer special events. Through purposeful, authentic, and meaningful projects and tasks, the Communications and Special Events Intern will gain essential professional skills and deepen understanding of strategic growth functions in the non-profit sector.

The Communications and Special Events Intern will be spending a significant amount of time in preparation for events related to the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C. Potential support/project areas include, but not limited to: organizing and managing all logistics for events supporting Advocates for Youth’s initiatives and goals, managing database of event contacts, and identifying media outlets for national events, pitching media.

Requirements Include 

  • Interested in communication, marketing, event planning, non-profits as a career
  • A strong work ethic and can-do attitude
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail; ability to organize and prioritize work to meet concurrent deadlines
  • Social media skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively, both independently and as part of a team
  • Flexibility and resourcefulness
  • A passion for Advocates for Youth’s mission
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office programs, especially Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook

Responsibilities Include 

Coordinating RSVPs for high-level events during the 2012 International AIDS Conference, including volunteers for events around the DC area and attendance for an exclusive nightlife event

Conducting outreach to partner organizations and media to publicize these events

Assisting the Manager of Communications and PR with press cultivation and followup

Supervising on-site logistics at events and working closely with Advocates staff and volunteers to ensure that these programs are a success

Assisting with other Communications Department projects, as assigned

Dates of Employment 

Immediate opening. Position through July 27.

Requirements for Application

Cover letter indicating reasons for interest in an internship

Resume indicating education and employment experience

Contact information for two references, or two written letters of reference

Additional Information

Part-time, paid internship with flexible hours (average18-22 hours/3 days a week, plus event days). Paid hourly, $10/hour.

NOTE: Must be available to work extended hours July 20-23, including weekend events and the evening of Monday, July 23.

 

PLEASE SEND APPLICATION MATERIALS TO RACHEL@ADVOCATESFORYOUTH.ORG BY JUNE 22, 2012.

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Last week, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed what has been called “the worst anti-abortion bill yet” – one that would criminalize all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape victims; put undue restrictions on health centers; and require doctors to ask intrusive, scripted questions about women’s motivation for their abortion.

Representative Lisa Brown objected, saying "I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."

So Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas banned her from the House floor…for saying the word "vagina" in defense of women’s health.

Attend a protest and reading of the Vagina Monologues TONIGHT on the Michigan Capitol Building steps.

Michigan’s women won’t be silenced when their rights are threatened. Rep. Brown, supportive legislators, and playwright Eve Ensler are staging a reading of the play Vagina Monologues tonight at the Michigan Capitol Building at 5pm.

"Bring signs, bring your vagina, bring your outrage, bring your humor," said Eve Ensler. "Bring your belief that women can have a right to their bodies, have a right to their voices, have a right to determine what happens to their bodies — whether they want children or don’t want children.”

Vagina’s not a dirty word. What’s dirty is the Michigan House’s attempt to suppress women’s rights and silence our voices.

Show your support for women TONIGHT on the Michigan Capitol Building Steps.

Learn more about the bill and join the effort to block attacks on abortion rights from ACLU Michigan

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Over at Advocates’ home page blog we have a "Celebrating Pride" series happening all June. Don’t miss it!

June is LGBT Pride Month: Let’s Celebrate, by Kate Stewart, Advocates’ Executive VP for Public Affairs

…We need to stop and think about how young people internalize our fears and our drive to protect them. Without balancing how we talk and educate about sexual health with messages about pleasure, happiness, fulfillment, we are only painting one very dark and stormy picture. Instead, we should be empowering young people and reminding them to celebrate who they are and who they love.

I don’t have to understand, I just have to support, by Robin Bridges, mother of…me!

I told Emily that my love for her had no qualifiers, especially not her sexuality. I had never said "I love you but only if you’re straight." My daughter is gay and my love for her is endless. End of story.

I’m proud of being gay and I’m proud of you, by Joe Lazzerini, Mr Gay Rhode Island

This month – I am proud that we have a President and Vice President that support marriage equality for same sex couples and that we live in a country that does not deny people of the gay and lesbian community the right to serve their nations in the Armed services or deny members of the LGBTQ community the right to visit their partners in the hospital.

Thankful and proud that my family and friends are so accepting, by Jordan, youth activist from South Carolina

To finally tell the one person person you wanted to tell and have them accept it evoked an amazing feeling of elation. I was über happy…..In all, my coming out experience was a lot better than I expected. I haven’t come out to everyone in my family, but in time I will. I’m just thankful and proud to have such an amazing group of supporting people in my life.

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I am at Rio+20 with Adopt a Negotiator as a Rio+20 fellow. This place is chaotically powerful. I mean there are so many things which are happening parallelly that it is difficult to keep a track and give an overview. People believe that the number of issues which are there on the tables along with the number of places these are being individually discussed dilutes the essence of Rio+20.

There are people who discuss these articles and sections as if they have been reciting these from their childhood while I feel pretty lost in this thick jungle of more than 50,000 people who have gathered for this conference. I sometimes wish that I had clones such that a few of them would sit simultaneously in some of the negotiation rooms where topics of my interest like gender, climate change and green economy were being discussed while one clone would be dedicated to researching at a reference library.

The negotiations are as unpredictable as the weather in Rio. On a morning when you see the sun shining bright, you decide to give the umbrella a miss only to realise when you reach Rio Centro that it has started drizzling. Similarly, just when you think that the negotiated text can’t go weaker than this, everything changes, new clauses are introduced.

Oh! a quick primer for everyone who does not know what the UN lingo with regard to the negotiations could mean: retain means to keep text, delete means to remove the text that is bracketted and reserve means that to be decided later. Generally, the people occupying the floor for speaking out aloud and making a stand are US, Canada, EU (all European Union countries negotiate as a bloc (I haven´t seen them disagreepublically on the negotiating tables though they do chime in individually fro time to time), Switerland, G77 (the largest Third World coalition provides the developing world to enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international issues) and the Holy See (the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome).

At the informal sessions of the negotiations which took plce between the 13-15th June, 2012 Holy See managed to kick quite a storm so much so that people questioned their participatory Rights if not aloud then at least in their minds. While I questioned the G77 (negotiated by Indonesia) stand specially as the block does not always have a consensus position on the text. Where were the voices from countries like India when people on the negotiatig table supported every ammendment proposed by the Holy See and in addition proposed the deletion of the following language in the Health Section:

• Delete "full" implementation of ICPD (International Conference on Popultion Development) and Beijing.
• Delete human rights of women and add men and children because women are not a specific category.
• Right of adolescents to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality (delete adolescents, replace with youth, delete sexuality, keep Sexual Reproductive Health).
• The Holy See stated that the CPD Outcome Document was not the reflection of international consensus but "only a commission of the UN".

I have to question the Indian stand because we are the second most populated country in the world. We have been rated worst country in G20 to be a woman and yet we let such text crop up at the International negotiating tables? Do governments like playing games with us by shaking us up through such debacles and test our tenacity or do they just do not want to move on instead of backwards in terms of International stands? Don´t the governmental reps understand that it is their duty towards us, the citizens of their countries to get productive results from such gatherings such that a tax payers money is not spent supporting them wastefully in such expensive places?

Thank goodness for the engagement of civil society. It seems that they did a good job of lobbying and persuaded the G77  to not support the Vatican’s stand on sexual reproductive health. SRH might seem like a unimportant topic for this conference, with its focus on all kinds of issues related to the environment, economics and social development, but it isn’t. Maria de Bruyn of Ipas is of the view, “When women and young people are able to better control their reproductive health and have autonomous decision-making about their sexual and reproductive lives, they are also in a better position to take advantage of opportunities offered by a green economy and to deal with environmental challenges” and it seems that view is supported by many studies done by Population Action International.

The policy lingo for anyone who would like to check what the stands made were at the negotiating table such that text could be given to the Brazillian government for collation such that it could be discussed at the High Level government representative meeting next week:

Gender 7 was ‘agreed ad ref’ today and the Health 8 (Health and population) had a new language referenced from ECOSOC 2009 para 16, proposed by G77. The new text was adopted by all delegation while the Holy See registered their deep reservation.

Gender 7 is something we will discuss another time specially because it talks abt gender mainstreaming in accordance with the national legislation and policies >think about countries where there are no gender policies(!!)< but other than that it is good to see that if we haven’t moved ahead on the path of development, at least we have been able to (somewhat) remain at the same place that we have earned over the past 20 years or more (!!) during the Prep Meeting of Rio+20.

————————————————————————————–
Roli is a Rio+20 fellow with
Adopt a Negotiator. She can be followed at @scholarfreak on Twitter.

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Meet Jermaine Case, one of the volunteers and Council Member for Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network or the JYAN. And oh, he’s a lawyer according to Mimi which makes him cool!

The JYAN is an initiative of the USAID funded JA-STYLE Project. JYAN is designed to develop youth leaders in the areas of advocacy, public education and capacity building in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, care and protection (including persons with disabilities), employment and entrepreneurship, education and training.

JYAN seeks to be the voice of youth promoting participation and demanding positive change in Jamaica across the Caribbean.

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Eleven year old Kameron Slade from PS 195 in Queens, New York won his class’s speech-writing competition, earning him a spot to participate in the school-wide contest. When his principal discovered that Kameron planned to talk about marriage equality, however, he pulled Kameron from the competition, saying he could only participate if he spoke on a topic that wasn‘t so “inappropriate.”

In an interview with NY1 News, Kameron and his mother expressed their disappointment in the principal’s decision.

"For him to be denied the right to voice his opinion really upsets me," she said.

"I was really looking forward to it," Kameron said. "I thought that this was a real good winning speech for tomorrow."

Kameron wrote an amazing speech, and I am so proud of him for wanting to share it with his classmates. New York, remember, is a state where marriage is legal for same-sex couples. Young people’s ability to speak freely on issues of fairness and equality is vital not only to our collective future, but to their ability to form and articulate educated opinions.

Kameron Slade is definitely my new favorite fifth grader. Watch his speech, and I think you’ll be as impressed and touched as I am.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown spoke these words during her speech in the House’s debate over their far-reaching, life-threatening, abortion ban.

The result- The Republican Speaker banned her indefinitely from speaking on the House floor.

This makes it rather difficult for her to act on behalf of her constituents, don’t you think? Apparently a woman saying “vagina” in public is so offensive that she was officially, and indefinitely, silenced. Now her constituents, as well as the women living outside of her district, have lost a legislative voice. Congresspeople are elected to represent the public. The action of the Speaker has not only silenced Rep. Brown, but also all of the people who she is there to speak for.

Paraphrasing Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel, vagina is the new Voldemort.

Use your voice to tell legislative leadership in Michigan that you support women’s health, and aren’t afraid to say it!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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On Wednesday, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed the extreme anti-abortion bill that Meghan posted about.

If it makes it through the Senate and governor and becomes law, this bill will effectively shut down all abortion clinics by requiring them to make expensive renovations even if they don’t perform surgical abortions.

It will force women like Jenni Lane to carry a pregnancy to term even when the fetus cannot survive.

It will force doctors to interrogate women with scripted questions about their decision.

It will profoundly limit access to abortion for Michigan’s women.

The Michigan House was unmoved by hundreds of protestors and by women’s testimony, closing the time for witnesses while many were waiting to speak and barely listening to those who did speak.

That is, they were unmoved until someone said the word vagina; then, they threw that person right out – even though she was their fellow representative.

And most alarming about the Michigan bill is that it’s intended as model legislature:  we can expect to see this level of disregard for women’s rights and needs in legislatures throughout the nation in the upcoming year, even as we are still reeling from the hundreds of bills proposed this year.

With this assault on health and autonomy, Michigan’s representatives have shown their contempt for women.  There’s still a chance to defeat the bill in the Senate; activists must watch this bill closely and be prepared for similar attacks on abortion rights in their own states.

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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Via ThinkProgress:

BREAKING: Obama To Stop Deporting DREAM-Eligible Youth, Protecting 1 Million Undocumented Students

President Obama will announce a new immigration policy this morning that will allow some undocumented students to avoid deportation and receive work authorization.

Under the president’s “deferred action” executive order, students in the U.S. who are already in deportation proceedings or those who qualify for the DREAM Act and have yet to come forward to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, will not be deported and will be allowed to work in the United States.

An estimated 1 million young people could benefit from the deferral. To be eligible, applicants have to be between 15 and 30 years old, live in the U.S. for five years, and maintain continuous U.S. residency. People who have one felony, one serious misdemeanor, or three minor misdemeanors will be ineligible to apply. “Deferred action” will last for two years and can be renewed.

Advocates for Youth advocated for the DREAM Act, recognizing that risk of deportation negatively impacts young people’s sexual health and rights.  We applaud the President for taking the step of creating a pathway to citizenship for almost 1 million young people. 

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This week, the  New England Journal of Medicine published a study in which hormonal contraception was found to be linked to stroke and heart attack.  Contraceptive options with higher doses of ethynyl estradiol, the estrogen compound found in most hormonal birth control, had higher risk of stroke and heart attack.  However, at the same time the NEJM published an editorial that stressed that overall, risks were still VERY low, especially compared to the risks of unintended pregnancy. 

Said the editorial’s author:  “The amount of attention paid to these minuscule risks, and what are likely to be very small differences in vascular risk, detracts attention from more salient issues, like preventing unwanted pregnancy.” 

Currently, the CDC classifies all hormonal methods as either “no restriction for the use of this method” or “the benefits of this method outweigh the risks.”  For the majority of women this study is unlikely to change that, though women with high blood pressure are urged to avoid hormonal birth control.

Hormonal birth control remains a highly effective way for sexually active women, including young women, to prevent unintended pregnancy.

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 young people in Bamenda -Cameroon recently had a two day training on Behavior change   initiated by one of the volunteers of Youth Outreach Programme Cameroon:  Eric Mbotiji and was funded by the Waisenkinderhilfe  NGO based in Frankfurt Germany in collaboration with Youth Outreach Program Cameroon(YOP).

The main objective of this training was to empower 15 young people (aged 15-24) with skills needed to make informed decisions which will enable them to adopt positive behaviors and live healthily lives.

The training topics included amongst others Life skills (Bridge Model), Types of life skills, communication, Body language,
assertiveness, emotional management, decision making, goals setting, role modelling, identification of risky behaviour towards HIV/AIDS and delaying sex. Trainers included Nansing Jimai, Jonas Heckelei, Agwenjang Patience and Eric Mbotiji.

An important training area was communication skills. Areas explored included the methods of communication, elements of effective communication, body language and assertiveness and overcomming barries of communication. In this session various case scenarios were used to illustrate forms of communication to the youth.

In this training, 15 youths gained self-development skills that enabled them to make informed decisions about their sexuality, be able to negotiate safe sex, set attainable goals, and their relationships and emotion. Most important was the fact that they developed strategies to address sexual harassment in schools and in their communities.

Eric Mbotiji
youth journalist from Cameroon

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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 Cameroon with an HIV prevalence of 5.1% amongst the general population is one of the 22 countries with the highest HIV prevalence in the World. The young people aged 15and above, constitute about 46% of all new infections and the young women are at the highest risk of infection among their peers. Young women aged 15-24 years are 2.5 times as likely to be infected with HIV as compared to their male peers.
Factors Driving the Epidemic amongst Young People

• Early sexual debut: In Cameroon the average age of first sexual intercourse is 14 years.
• Multiple and concurrent sexual partners.
• Low level of consistent condom use.
• Challenges in changing sexual behaviour.
• Cross generational sex.
• Transactional sex.
• Sexual transmissible marks.
• Peer Pressure.
• Sponsoring.
• Poverty.
• Incest and rape.
• Unemployment.
• Prostitution.
• Migration and mobility.

High Risk Groups
• Vulnerable children (Orphans, Street Children, hawkers, House helps, child trafficking………)
• Call box service providers
• Uniform Officers
• Distant truck drivers
• Adolescent Sex Workers
• Bike Riders
• Students.
Impact of HIV Campaigns
Cameroon has just begun the implementation of its 3rd National strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS for 2011-2015.

National prevention strategy for youths and Adolescent for HIV prevention is to support sexual and reproductive health education in youth centres to reach out-of-school youth; through health clubs, to reach youths in school; youth focused HIV testing campaigns organized during specific events and festivities such as the International Day of the child, Youth days, Holiday Free of AIDS Campaigns, the National Week/International AIDS Days and the like. These are aimed at enhancing the participation of young people as well as promoting income generating activities for out-of-school youth.

The campaigns have contributed to behaviour changes, as more and more young people are going in for HIV testing to know their status during HIV campaigns. Among the 123,504 young people mobilized for HIV prevention by the youths in 2011, over 10,880 of them went in for the HIV test and knew their HIV status.

Compiled By Eric Mbotiji

Youth Blogger from Cameroon

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 When i returned from a training workshop which took place in Nairobi –Kenya from the 5th to
the 9th of January 2012 christened “SHUGA RADIO Training” organized by UNICEF in
partnership with MTV NETWORKS, QUESTION MEDIA GROUPS, PEPFAR’S HIV FREE
GENERATION Kenya, had as objectives to create HIV awareness across Africa and enable
participants to use the Media to mitigate the spread of HIV.

As a youth activist in Cameroon who is concerned about reproductive health issues, I met an
 American peace Corps Volunteer; Kelly Bojan in Bamenda and we had a discussion about
youth reproductive health issues and HIV/AIDS in our city. In the course of our discussion, I
told her about an observation which I had made concerning how people who don’t know
each other, get into township taxis and start talking about any interesting topic. Two days
later we met and she proposed an idea to me about producing short stickers containing
basic information on HIV/AIDS and pasting them in Taxis. After our discussions, she
contacted the American Peace Corps office in Bamenda and an organization called Health
Development Consultancy Services which gave some financial resources to produce the stickers.

In the city of Bamenda in Cameroon, 50 taxi drivers were trained as peer educators for two
days about HIV Prevention. Thereafter, drivers were given these stickers to paste In their
taxis and Kelly and I took upon ourselves and started entering taxis around the city at
random, just to past the stickers in other taxis as well as some private cars.

These stickers were pasted inside the taxis, in front and behind andthey were beautifully
designed in such a way that people who entered into taxis could easily notice it. The
objective of this exercise was to enable people entering taxis to look at it which will spark up
a discussion in the Taxi about HIV and enable people to talk about it very openly. From the
taxi, the discussions will be taken to homes which are the basic unit of every society.
Having a long conversation with a friend or people we meet everyday about HIV/AIDS, will
effectively work to reduce the stigma which people attached to persons living with HIV/AIDS,
and the stigma will drastically reduce.

These stickers carried basic information about HIV/AIDS in very easy and simple language,
understandable by all. Five different stickers we produced and had the following basic
information on them:

-Ways to prevent HIV
-Things to do if you are HIV+
-HIV Transmission
-Why Women are more exposed to HIV than men
-HIV Contraction.

This exercise was very successful in the city of Bamenda as almost all taxis carried these
stickers which we had pasted in them.

I believe that we can also reduce HIV/AIDS in our communities by talking about it.

Eric Mbotiji

Youth Blogger  from Cameroon

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Tania Kurbatoff is a young person from Christchurch, New Zealand. A fashion designer by profession but a youth advocate by passion, she founded The Porcelain Institute, which specialises in developing creative approaches to rebuilding and transforming cities and communities after conflict and disaster. Her work with young people brought her into the center of disaster risk reduction after her city was devastated by a strong earthquake in 2011 and in helping North Korean Refugees cope up with their newly-found life in South Korea through arts as a form of "expressing oppression, one exploring freedom, and a self portrait based on (Pablo) Picasso’s model."


Above: Artworks made by some of the young participants that attended in one of Tania’s art workshop.

During the 6th World Youth Congress that was held in Sitio das Pedras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tania facilitated a workshop entitled "Communicating through Art: Designing a Pathway to Sustainable Development". As a self-confessed "no-arts skills", the workshop took me on a journey to design and express my vision for sustainbale development and allows me to take part of creating a collective art work in what she called as "The WYC 2012 Pathway to Sustainable Development". I already had a vision of the future I want to experience. What I draw was unexpected. It might not be a work of art in the strictest sense but I am happy to just express my thoughts and translate it into artwork!

Below: One of her masterpiece dress made out of the participants’ artworks in one of her many workshops she facilitated.


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WYC is a biennial gathering of young activists from all over the world who are focused on expanding the role of youth in sustainable development.

The Virtual World Youth Congress is its online version.

The World Youth Congress series was born in 1997 following the frustrations of the Rio+5 Earth Summit conference which highlighted the fact that, far from increasing as the original Rio 1992 Earth Summit had proposed, Overseas Development Aid had, in fact dropped by 17% since 1992.

So the 1st World Youth Congress was conceived as a kind of Young People’s Earth Summit. However by the time it was finally held, in Hawaii in October 1999, it had developed into a much broader process of identifying priorities for the new Millennium. Entitled, the Millennium Young People’s Congress.

It got millions of young people around the world to identify ten key priorities for the new millennium and it turned out that eight of these closely mirrored the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, agreed a year later at the UN Millennium Summit.

The 1st youth congress showed that young people wanted to be active in pursuit of these goals: they did not want to wait around for governments or others to do development for them: rather they wanted to get involved in doing development themselves.

So that 1st Congress coined the term Youth-led Sustainable Development, and launched Peace Child International’s (PCI) Be the Change! Youth-led programme – both of which have become central to the World Youth Congress Series.

Subsequent Congresses – in Morocco in 2003, Scotland in 2005, Quebec City, Canada in 2008 and Istanbul, Turkey in 2010 – have all discussed one main question:

“What is the most effective role that youth can play in development?”

Answers have included: peer-to-peer training, HIV-AIDS awareness raising, youth-led business startups; environmental awareness, protection and conservation; human rights policing; peacebuilding – and many, many other things: given a chance, the right training and investment, young people can contribute almost anything to the effort to eradicate poverty completely from our world.

Each Congress is unique: hosts are encouraged to stamp the identity and culture of their country on their congress and make it their own. But each has similar distinguishing features that give the World Youth Congress Series its own unique feel:
• The Congress is youth-run: Youth who work for both PCI and the local host group form the central part of decision-making on everything from the content of the programme, selection of the delegates, staffing of the Congress, to the choice of speakers at the plenaries and workshops.

• Action: A key part of every congress is Local Action Projects – where all delegates travel away from the Congress site and work with local people to build facilities, do an environmental clean-up or assist in some social programme. The time away from talking and being engaged in community action is where delegates and hosts bond. Action has defined the World Youth Congress Series.

• Actions Before and After the Congress: Just as delegates are urged to complete projects and experiments before the congress so that they have experiences to share with other delegates, so all delegates are expected to return and take actions using the knowledge they have gained. A key aspect this year, is creating action in the run up to Rio+20, so that us youth can show the UN and world governments that we are taking action and our prepared for a green economy. PCI also generates grants for 15-20 “Post-Congress Action projects” developed by delegates, that show real potential of creating positive community change.

• A strong cultural/arts programme: Peace Child International takes its name from the musical, Peace Child, which promotes solutions to global problems. Therefore, PCI seeks to promote all forms of communication to promote youth messages in the most powerful possible way. So bring your instruments, bring your dance, films, painting, poetry or stand-up comedy skills and be prepared to share them in the Congress Talent Shows and arts evenings.

• A friendly and cooperative environment generated by its young hosts and organisers: – where young people and experienced sustainability experts can meet on equal terms in informal round table discussions so that each can learn from each other. We’ve seen some of the best ideas come from informal discussions, the sharing of experiences, stories and inspirations of young activists working in their own communities.

Source: http://wycrio2012.org/en/sobre/congresso-mundial-de-juventude-2/

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by Bianca Laureano

This is not so much an article about the future of abortion, but rather how abortions are presented to us today in films that are set in “the future.” As someone who remembers very well a time when there were no cell phones or internet, for me, I am already living in “the future.” However, I just saw the film Prometheus and there was a scene about pregnancy and abortion (spoilers ahead!).

I’m not going to give a long synopsis of the film Prometheus, I saw it for the old school sci-fi films reference and the cast (ok really just for Idris Elba). As a result I knew there would be a ton of things about the film I would not enjoy, or that would be predictable (which I also don’t enjoy much about films). Briefly, the film takes place in 2093, a group of scientists, engineers, wealthy folks are following/looking for “our creators” as in the folks who came before us in another part of the universe. They are frozen for two years, traveling through other galaxies, and have all this super advanced type of technology.

Alas, the two folks who think they are leading the “exploration” are partners. Since sex does exist in the future, after being awakened as they are approaching their destination, they want and choose to engage in consensual sex. Now, we are told that the woman in the film is infertile and this is something that makes her sad, after all the irony of it: they are looking for their makers but she cannot procreate. Long story short, her partner gets infected with some foreign stuff and because it’s super-alien-fast-growing-magic-stuff, he impregnates his partner. He then dies because of this infection.

When his partner, who is a doctor, realizes she’s pregnant with something alien she “wants it out of her.” Now, this was a surprise for me. After all, this is a character who is all about this mission and learning more about origins, etc. that I thought she’s be down for sacrificing her body and life to learn more about this substance and what it can create (but that’s only ok when it’s other folks sacrificing their lives for her). So when she said she didn’t want to be pregnant I thought “this will be an interesting storyline.” Alas, it was. But it was also a terrible one.

In short, abortions in the future are non-existent. The word is not even used. When the doctor finds out she’s pregnant and wants “it out of her” as it was only 10 hours she had sex but her pregnancy looks like it is 12 weeks, she is told the super expensive ($3 trillion) mission does not have the equipment for such a procedure. Then she runs to a super futuristic pod that can provide any type of surgical procedures, including bypass surgery. All you have to do is put in what procedure you desire and get yourself into the pod and the machine does the work.

When she gets to this pod and has to put in her procedure, she says she needs a c-section. Now, many folks may know that a c-section is a hardcore surgical procedure that is complicated and very different from abortion procedures. However, in the future that does not exist either. This is because the machine was designed only for men. Yes, you read that correctly, science, technology, and medicine are still centered on men. Now, I have to say this was probably the most realistic part of this storyline because that I can definitely believe. After all the $3 trillion for this mission was provided by an older white man and the wealth of women were limited to their knowledge, which was questioned often.

Now, this omission of abortion in science fiction is not completely new. There are a lot of omissions about reproductive health, care and justice that has been excluded when people imagine or reimagine a future. What is ironic is how these experiences are erased, or assumed not to be an issue that impacts folks. Especially since the future is dependent on some form of procreation and evolution. But more importantly because abortions and other reproductive needs have been around since before modernization.

Perhaps this is a sign of what happens when women are not creating or a part of imaging a future for themselves? Maybe this happens because folks don’t want to talk about menstruation and what that represents, even in the future. Or it could be a odd sense of “privacy” folks don’t think we need to discuss or that women viewers may assume as they watch? Perhaps it’s an outcome of pleasing folks who are funding the project?

I’m not completely shocked by this omission. After all, Prometheus is a Fox Searchlight film, and Fox is owned by a extremely conservative wealthy white man. This is part of media literacy, knowing and recognizing how media is created, has embedded values, and is created for profit. It’s clear the values of certain folks are incorporated into many of the forms of media we are exposed to on a regular basis.

If you saw the film, what were your perspectives? Did you too see something odd about this storyline?

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Not only have i been denied proper health care but also haven’t recieved any sacriments fr any of the local preist. I don’t understand why after many phone calls they still refuse to see me. If you have any advise on this please call me or write me. Again my number is 58 227 3681 and my address is 27 pulaski st, amstersdam, N.Y. 12010

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Advocates for Youth is looking for enthusiastic writers and content creators ages 16-24 to be featured contributors to Amplify, the online community for young people interested in the reproductive and sexual health and rights movement. You will:

1) Beginning in August 2012, work with Amplify staff mentors to develop writing and new media skills and contacts.
2) Have your work spotlighted on www.amplifyyourvoice.org.
3) Receive a monthly stipend of $125.

Applicants should have a strong interest in reproductive and sexual health and rights; be good writers or content creators; and have an interest in current events, media commentary, popular culture, and/or blogs and blogging. We are interested in inexperienced/unpublished correspondents as well as those with an existing background in blogging, journalism, or video blogging.

Your responsibilities will include:

1) Working with Amplify staff, you will develop, create, and revise two features per month to be featured on Amplify

2) You will also post a minimum of ten brief/informal posts per month: quick commentary on the news, other great blog posts you have seen, or reposting relevant infographics, pictures, and video.

3) You’ll share Amplify content on social media each month (or work with staff to develop a social media presence if you don’t have one); participate in the Amplify community by commenting on others’ work; and try out new features/functionality on the Amplify website.

To apply, please submit the following via email to emily@advocatesforyouth.org:

1) An email that describes your background (coursework, experience, or interest in journalism, writing/blogging, or activism) and why you are interested in the position.

2) A writing sample – can be a blog or journalism piece you have had published elsewhere, or submit an a 300-400 word or 2 minute video piece on a topic related to the Amplify issue areas listed above.

3) Please include your full name, geographic location, and age.

Youth from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Please apply by June 30, 2012.

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On May 15th, Melissa Sue Robinson won the Democratic Primary for Idaho’s State Senate from Canyon County- District 12. This made her the first transgender person to win a Primary Election in the United States. What makes her win even more impressive is that her district is in the most conservative county in Idaho. She may have an uphill campaign ahead of her for November, but she is definitely a politician we’ll want to watch.

The following is an interview I did with Ms. Robinson by e-mail over this past weekend.

1) Many transgender people struggle with discrimination and transphobia. Studies over the years have shown us that LGBT students have faced harassment and violence at alarming levels. These realities leave many transgender people at a social and economic disadvantage that is largely institutional- and legal. What has your process of personal empowerment been like, that has allowed you to overcome the sense of disenfranchisement often felt by transgender people?

Well I personally didn’t let it destroy my confidence, and I continued to deal with people in the same way as I had before my GRS surgery. I formed a 501C3 at the time known as The National Association for the Advancement of Trans gendered People, held marches for anti-discrimination in Lansing, MI. known as the Nikki Nicholas March for Change, ran for several political offices in order to get my new name out, and was instrumental in helping to get anti-discrimination laws and ordinances in both Michigan and Lansing, MI. I also promoted transgender people on Oprah in 2005, on German TV in 2003, and in several other media outlets.

2) Over the past few years, several transgender people have been elected to public office. What does this mean to you personally?

Well it means that we are making progress and my dream of giving back through politics is now a possibility.

3) Do you identify as liberal? As progressive? Conservative? How do you describe your political or social perspective?

I am liberal on some issues, conservative on some fiscal issues, and progressive on most issues. I believe that anyone should be able to marry and share it’s benefits. I believe that abortion should be a last resort, but should be a woman’s choice, and I believe in the constitution. I think that society should provide services such as healthcare and housing to those that cannot afford it or are unable to work. I believe that medical marijuana should be legal and farmers should be allowed to grow hemp. Harsh laws against soft drugs like marijuana should be repealed so that we can free up our criminal justice system and resources to concentrate on felonies such as murder, rape, and robbery.

4) What has your campaign experience been like? What issues do you find that voters are most concerned about?

My campaign experience has been way more favorable than I expected in conservative Canyon County, Voters are mainly interested in job creation and a good education for their children, followed by family values. They want gang free, safe cities, and a good transportation system going from Caldwell to Boise. I was a job creator as I owned a 25 employee business in Michigan for over 25 years and hired many employees. I was also one of the first people to recommend a bus rapid transit district instead of light rail going down the I-84 corridor from Caldwell to Mountain Home (because of the cost of light rail). I was the first person to call for a state owned bank to help those that can’t get loans from conventional banks in order to fund small businesses and mortgages (or to bail out business during recessions). See article by Dan Pokey in 2010 when I ran for the state legislature by Goggling Melissa Sue Robinson State Banks. I started talking about health care reform in 2004 when I ran for the Michigan legislature.

5) Part of your platform involves replacing the “Students Come First Luna Laws” in order to “promote quality education.” Can you explain why and how this initiative has failed students, and what you would propose to guarantee that all students, regardless of socio-economic status, are given a valuable education?

Well let’s take Melba for example: they replaced a popular, good history teacher with online history classes when he retired. Also good teachers from other states will not (and I guarantee) will not, even consider Idaho as a place of employment. Would you go to a state that doesn’t allow collective bargaining for your profession? I think not. Therefore we will not only lose, but will not gain any good educators in Idaho and that will trickle up to the college and University level. Talk about going last in education Idaho is sure heading there. It’s like they are trying to dumb down Idaho Citizens on purpose. It’s not just in Idaho as Mitt Romney also wants to do that. Without good teachers we will have a hard time instilling morals, ethics, and other needed things that shape our children into model citizens, and responsible adults. The Parents can’t do it all and don’t have time in today’s two parents working society. Our children can only be taught to be spokes in the wheel (instead of holes in the doughnut) by good, quality, teachers. I would lead a fight to eliminate Idaho’s so called "Right to work"-"Right to Fire" laws as a start. I would also help out and promote any campaigns to repeal Luna Laws. My vote as Senator would always be "Yes" on repeal.

6) You also promise to fight for gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation to be included in the Idaho Human Rights Law. As such a proposal has never been read before the House or Senate, could you describe your strategies for gaining support?

The first and only way to gain support for that legislation is through education. Republican politicians don’t believe that those laws are needed so they have to be shown by examples from around Idaho and the entire world. I know how to sell as I have been doing that my entire life so I would proceed to sell them on the advantages of such a law (including landing corporations that believe in anti discrimination to create jobs in this state). I have worked for three corporations that have anti-discrimination policies in their corporate bi-laws for LGBT people such as: Century Link/Qwest Communications Corp., SBC/AT&T Communications, and Pinkerton Automotive div. at General Motors Corp.

7) Have you or do you plan to reach out to young voters, considering their higher level of acceptance of the LGBT community?

I not only have reached out to young voters and tried to educate them on LGBT issues in the past, but I have also used them in my campaigns. I relate very well with other generations both young and older than myself generations.

8) The activities of Republican-led state legislatures across the country, especially since the 2010 election, have been radical and extreme. The Idaho Senate is currently 75% Republican. Recent activity has included: rejecting an anti-discrimination law, supporting anti-abortion legislation, rejecting the necessity of accessible contraception, and proposing the legal (and un-taxable) use of gold and silver coins as an alternative to paper money. You are running in “the most conservative Republican county” in the state. Do you feel confident campaigning as a Democrat in such a conservative area?

I not only have reached out to young voters and tried to educate them on LGBT issues in the past, but I have also used them in my campaigns. I relate very well with other generations both young and older than myself generations.

 

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Below is an excerpt of a Center for American Progress interview with Urooj Arshad, the associate director of Equity and Social Justice at Advocates for Youth and the manager of the Muslim Youth Project.  Read the full interview here

Sally Steenland: Urooj, you work on reproductive and sexual health issues with young American Muslims. What are some pressing issues these young people face?

Urooj Arshad: Many young people have felt stigmatized talking about sexual health, and there are not a lot of resources for them. Advocates for Youth is a national organization, and we decided it was a priority for us to work with the community. Our Muslim Youth Project seeks to build the capacity of organizations working on reproductive and sexual health issues with American Muslim youth.

It actually came out of a trip I took to Germany, meeting with a coalition of folks coming from all over Europe to talk about multiculturalism and sexual health education. A lot of the meeting was focused on immigrants and Muslim youth, but there was a distinct lack of Muslim representation. I felt that addressing this gap could be a model—not only in the United States but also for people doing this work in other places where there are large Muslim communities but due to lack of representation and resources, reproductive and sexual health are not addressed.

The big challenges American Muslim communities face are silence and stigma. Issues around reproductive and sexual health are either not talked about or not talked about in a way that is healthy. Silence and stigma can lead to negative health outcomes for young people, especially as they negotiate their lives here. All the information they receive from school and other sources can pose a dilemma as to what they’re supposed to be doing.

There is also a lack of cultural competence from mainstream providers. It could be community-based organizations. It could be schools. If you are a provider that’s worked predominantly in the Muslim community, you might not be able to address reproductive or sexual health issues. Or if you are a provider in the reproductive and sexual health community, you might not know how to address issues Muslim young people are facing. Because of this, what can happen in the American Muslim youth community can be quite dire.


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In a rural community in the North West Region of Cameroon, many youths are highly sexually active and the rate of HIV prevalence is very alarming. In this rural community, teenage love relationships are defined and expressed by having sex. In this case, the demand for condoms is very high but it is a great taboo for young people to have sex or bear children before marriage, as the customs and traditions demands. One time, it happened that condoms completely ran out of supply and these youngsters who could not cope without sex and did not want to be caught up in the traps of tradition, soughed for a different way of protection for the moment, while waiting for the supply of condoms.
Nearly every boy-girl relationship is based on sex as a means of expressing love, and these youths find it more like a way of life.
At the finish of these condoms young people turned to plastic papers as a substitute for condoms to enjoy themselves. This is very funny but interesting because, it’s clear that youths are aware of HIV and will go an extra mile to protect themselves in the absence of condoms. Wow, I thought young people were just crazy about making love where ever and whenever their emotions arises, but it appears they are also conscious of their health and cherish their lives. This is a clear indication that they don’t want to loose their lives to HIV and will do anything to protect themselves with or without condoms.
The news of youths substituting condoms for plastics came to the lamplight when the users started complaining about the inconvenience of these plastics and how it is very discomforting.
At this point in time they have to continue with their activities while waiting for condoms to be supplied to their community.

By Eric Mbotiji,
Youth Blogger from Cameroon.

Categories: Condoms, HIV, Uncategorized
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In the news this week has been a study which has been getting lots of media coverage.  You may have seen headlines like ABC’s “Study: Kids of Parents in Same-sex Relationships Fare Worse as Adults.”  The study looked at adult children whose parents had been in a same-sex relationship at some point in their lives, and found that these adults experience more of certain negative outcomes, like anxiety, depression, and unemployment.

A few important facts:

 

  1. The study asked about same-sex behavior, not orientation, so a person with a heterosexual-identified parent who had briefly had a same-sex partner qualified for the study.
  2. The study examined current adults ages 18-39, who would have been growing up in, at the latest, the 1990s, and at the earliest, the 1970s.
  3. The study was funded by the conservative think tank Witherspoon Institute, which opposes same-sex marriage.

 

In an article on Slate, the study’s author claimed that the study did a better job of representing the reality of gay parenting than previous studies which found better outcomes for children.  But does it?    Check out William Saletan’s discussion of the study sample:  so-called “broken” families were included in the sample of LGBT families but excluded from the “biological family” category.  Regardless of your feelings about marriage’s importance to society, that doesn’t seem like a fair comparison.  Plus, as one researcher observed:

"To determine whether a parental same-sex relationship affects a child’s outcome, it is critical to know the length of these relationships, and whether the same-sex partners were actually living with, and parenting, the child for any length of time. The study does not assess this.”

Or, as the New York Times notes:

“…the research was rigorous, providing some of the best data yet comparing outcomes for adult children with a gay parent with those with heterosexual parents. But they also said the findings were not particularly relevant to the current debate over gay marriage or gay parenting.”

That is, an unhappy person whose daddy had a boyfriend in the 80s doesn’t really compare to children in today’s LGBT families.  It’s unfortunate on the researcher’s part, and irresponsible on much of the media’s part, to pretend that this study has some insight into today’s LGBT families.

The children of today’s LGBT parents are growing up in a time of far more acceptance and “outness.”  Their parents have more financial and legal supports, especially in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  Their parents’ experiences are less associated with secrecy and shame.  They are proud, and diverse, families.

And that’s one interesting takeaway from the study  – its findings on diversity.  The study found that children who had experienced same-sex parental relationships were not more likely to live in “gayer” geographical areas but live all over the country; Georgia was the state with the most same-sex couple parents, while many lived in the midwest.  That’s a good reminder that LGBT families are everywhere.  We need to respect and support them, not use misleading headlines and flawed science to push a conservative religious agenda.

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I’m Mary katherine Szasz. 49 years ole and diagnoses with advanced Multipule Sclrosis. Home bound and with very little company, I;  m finding that as i reach out to various goverment agencies, they are unwilling to provide me with the care that i need to remain home and maintain my freedon and dignity  during this final stage in my life. I already been fired wrongfully when first diagnosised with this disease and now this. Please call me, email me, call these agencies on my behalf to help me out.  my number is 518 2273681 or if you would like to write to me my address is 27 Pulaski st Amsterdam N.Y. 12010  Please hear my cry for help.  God Bless you all

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I am not, by no means promoting sex. When I first thought about it, it felt a little weird to actually have people coming over to my house asking for condoms. This weird feeling was accompanied with a tinge apprehension because I was afraid of what my parents and family would think about me. Fortunately, while my Dad did not like the idea of our house turning into a condom dispensary, I had the full support of my Mom who eventually convinced Dad that what I was doing was actually a good and thoughtful thing. What’s even cooler is that now I’ve had people volunteer themselves as distribution agents. One of my friends gives out condoms to the men in a football team and he is constantly coming back for more condoms because more men who are not part of the team want to use condoms now. I really like the idea of condoms getting into style! 

Of course, the fact that more people are using condoms does not mean that they know how to use it correctly. As a matter of fact, many people have not even used a condom before. I first started getting requests for condoms after our first training session with a group of young people who were very much interested in learning about sexual and reproductive health. The objective of the trainings is to educate out-of-school youth in order to promote safe-sex practices and as a result halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). I feel that these trainings are actually having the kind of behavioral change that we wanted to happen among young people. What’s more is that even women who are mothers and want to delay their next child are asking for condoms. This is great news especially since Progresso is a rural community where access to SRH information and services is not readily available. I have already committed myself to make these condoms available to whoever needs them. Of course, availability of condoms comes with the proper and correct information. Educating young people and people in general about the importance of engaging in safe-sex practices and the proper way in which condoms and other contraceptive methods work is very crucial in the dissemination process.

As we continue educating young people on the different ways that they can protect themselves from either HIV/AIDS, STI’s or an unwanted pregnancy, we hope that whatever knowledge we impart in them is put into practice and that the information be disseminated especially to those who need the most.

Categories: Condoms, HIV, Uncategorized
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 Long time ago, jewelry was ordered either through trade shows, or through phone calls and the simplest was through visiting a retailer where you can pick what you need form what is on display or from a catalogue. And to go on a marketing campaign to sell your products would cost a lot of money that was usually overloaded on the customer price. But as time went by, and with the modern marketing techniques, several methods of advertising and purchasing surfaced. Some of them are aimed at reducing the price for the end customer, like wholesalers and some are with the simplicity of just one click using the internet. Actually, many wholesalers have websites that sell different cheap jewelry at reduced prices so combining both the ease of purchase and the reasonable price at the same time.

Usually wholesalers are categorized based on the type of products they sell, for example, gold and platinum or specially designed jewelry that are considered artworks. Also their websites are divided into many sections depending on the occasion the piece will be used or gifted, like bridal or shower jewelry, and others are categorized based on the novelty of their design, or the material or stones they contain and within each of these categories you will find many other subcategories, for example, it could be further subdivided into earrings, necklaces, bracelets and so. With such categorization, it is so easy to pick what you need from the many available online and to complete your purchase through the internet.

One advantage of accomplishing your purchase online is that you can find all the information you need to know about the product, whether it is the material, the design and certainly the price and if you have any further inquiries you can contact the seller through email or through a customer service line. And with the multitude of options available, your chance of finding something you like at an adequate price are really high. The delivery is also one point that contributes to the excellence of these websites, where you can get your pieces faster and more effectively while staying at home.

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 Women love every kind of jewelry may it be gold, platinum, silver or diamond. Jewelry has always been a favorite gift for women. Women just love to wear different kinds of jewelries and the more they have the better they are.cheap fashion earrings

Men get confused and have no idea on where to buy? And what to buy in jewelries for their lady love. When you purchase jewelry as a gift you might find it very confusing after seeing variety of designs and shapes. It is advisable to choose the princess length necklaces 17 to 19 inches. This size is an excellent selection when men are not sure about the length then strand length of necklace is considered as the most appropriate one.

 
Men should always consider the preferences of the women whether she likes wearing silver jewelry, diamond studded platinum jewelry or gold jewelry. These days’ sterling silver jewelries are very affordable as well as very versatile.

You should find many things before buying any wholesale fashion jewelry for her. Look whether or not she is she is allergic to metal. Many people complaint about jewelry allergy, it is one common thing. The main reasons for jewelry Blog reviews allergies are the content called nickel which is present in the jewelry. Pure silver and gold metal are very soft and it have nickel mixed to make these metals hard. In case of gold the less is the value of karat, the more nickel content is mixed with the metal.

Men should avoid any kind of dyed gemstones. Few of them leave temporary colors streaks on your skin when the metal comes in contact with the moisture through perspiration and perfumes. However, it is essential to know that all dyed sort of gemstones does not have this kind of problem. You can use the best judgment while selecting colorful gemstones jewelry. If the color appears to be thick and unnatural, it is possibly be a dyed gemstone which may wipe off into the skin.

Before purchasing jewelries for her you should consider the size and the design of the necklace or earrings as it is very important part of selection. Would she wear chunkier beads as well as pendants, smaller or lighter jewelry?

Always consider the lifestyle that she lives in. Would she like simple jewelry or prefer dangling pieces? Lastly, purchase designer handmade jewelry manufactured with semi-precious gemstones, glass, Swarovski crystals, and other superior materials. One can search for unique designs which are affordable and beautiful.

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Michigan House Bill 5711 – considered to be the most extreme anti-abortion bill in the country — is moving through the state legislature. 

Michian resident Jenni Lane shared her story on RH Reality Check, explaining that she made the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy because the fetus suffered from a severe brain malformation. HB 5711 would make it illegal for Jenni to have an abortion. 

Michigan lawmakers made it even clearer how they feel about the rights of women state. This week, Michigan lawmakers blocked women like Jenni from sharing their stories about the need to access abortion during a committee meeting.

Says Jenni:

“I feel so angry and so deeply sad that legislators supporting these bills are willfully ignoring stories like mine. It’s unconscionable, because women’s lives and health are at stake, and the expertise of medical providers is undermined and ignored. I have been tentative about that phrase that is used right now, the ‘war on women,’ because it sounds too much like polarizing rhetoric. But today, my own personal hurt and anger does make me feel attacked. When people in positions of power abuse it to implement policies that have devastating effects on other people, it’s aggressive and adversarial. But when these legislators simply will not hear from those who they disagree with, it feels ‘un-American,’ and fundamentally wrong.”

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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Yesterday the CDC released the results of its Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, a survey of 15,000 high school students around the nation that asks questions about a variety of health and safety behaviors.

The headline for sexual health was: no headline.

There were no statistically significant changes in the percent of young people who have ever had sex (47%), who are currently sexually active (34%), or who used condoms (60%) and/or the most effective forms of birth control (24%) at last sex.

The only statistically significant change was in HIV education, and it wasn’t good: the percentage of students taught in school about HIV has trended down since 1997 and went down between 2009 to 2011 (from 87% to 84%).

What lessons can we take from this?

1) No matter how much adults want to live in denial, a significant proportion of teens are having sex. Among seniors, 63 percent of students have already had sex and nearly half are currently sexually active.

2) Safer sex messages still haven’t taken hold among all young people. While it’s wonderful that so many young people are using condoms and birth control, those numbers need to be much closer to 100 percent, with all young people fully protected.

3) Every year fewer students are learning about HIV – and we already knew that less than a quarter have been tested for HIV. What’s causing this – the abstinence-only programs that have taken root around the nation? No Child Left Behind and the emphasis on standardized testing? Funding cuts in the current economic climate? Whatever the cause, the erosion of HIV education has to stop. Students’ lives depend on it.

Read the full Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance here. Also check out Martha Kempner’s discussion of the results on RH Reality Check.

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by Debra Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth

Inevitable. Since President Obama announced his personal support for marriage equality last month, reporters and pundits alike have said same-sex marriage is "inevitable." That it is only a matter of time before gay and lesbian couples will be allowed to legally marry across the United States. And, now with recent court rulings on Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, it is very likely the Supreme Court will weigh in on this sooner than later. With the personal backing of Vice President Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama, the NAACP, Latino singer Ricki Martin, and even hip hop mogul Jay-Z it might just be the case that marriage equality is inevitable.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the President’s position. Opponents of same-sex marriage are numerous and vocal, the Defense of Marriage Act is currently still on the books, and 31 states have a constitutional ban preventing it.

So why does marriage equality now look inevitable? The answer may be found with the swiftly growing cultural acceptance of gay and lesbian rights and demographic changes that elevate the potential political power of Millennials.

The change in public attitudes on marriage equality has been rapid. In just eight years, the national polling shows a shift of 16 percentage points in favor of marriage equality[1]. And, only sixteen years after President Clinton signed into law a bill defining marriage as the union between a man and woman, we have President Obama coming out in support of same-sex marriage and a federal appeals court ruling the law unconstitutional. The movement on marriage equality is an example of how quickly change can now occur in our society when propelled by a generation that is technologically savvy and willing to challenge preconceived norms of older generations.

Millennials represent an ever increasing share of the electorate. Young people born between 1980 and 1991 comprise 64 million potential voters in 2012[2].  And they support marriage equality. If you look at any recent poll, the divide between those who support gay rights and specifically marriage equality, and those who oppose it, can be measured in years:  if you’re under 29 you are more likely than any other generation to support the rights of gay and lesbians and to support marriage equality– and politicians and other leaders have clearly taken notice. In recent months, support for marriage equality reached a new high with 74% of Millennials supporting legal recognition of marriage between gay and lesbian couples[3].

Despite the popular misconception of rampant homophobia within communities of color, support for gay rights is also strong among young adults of color. Over two-thirds (67%) of Millennials of color support some form of legal recognition of gay couples — either legal marriage (48%) or civil unions (19%). The numbers are similar to those of young adults across the country. In fact, only three in ten youth of color (29%) say there should be no legal recognition.  To break these numbers down further, 58% of African-American, 70% of Latino, and 76% of Asian Pacific-Islander youth agree that same-sex couples should receive legal recognition[4].

While previous generations paved the way for change, Millennials are the first generation to see consistently positive images of gay men and women in the media, the first to grow up with Gay/Straight Alliances in their schools, and the first to routinely know families with two mothers or two fathers. They are also the first generation to be completely at ease with social media, using it not just as a means to exchange information but as a pathway for shifting norms, attitudes and beliefs among their peers.

Millennials grew up with gay characters featured prominently in the popular television shows they watched, and not just as guest appearances or in stereotypical roles, but in lead roles. Gay characters – particularly portrayals of gay teens – humanized gay and lesbian stories and became an important part of the collective adolescent psyche.

Millennials are digital natives – they have lived their whole lives with the Internet, social networks, and texting and most are completely fluent with these technologies. Three-quarters have created a social networking profile, eight in ten report texting in the last 24 hours, and a majority (54%) believes new technology brings them closer to friends and family[5].

Today, over six in ten Millennials say that they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian,[6] and personally they are more comfortable discussing their own sexual orientation than any prior generation. Social media has fueled this openness. With the ability to state your sexual orientation or relationship status as part of your most basic identifying information, Facebook has transformed the ability for gay and lesbian Millennials to live openly, and for their peers be more aware of the LGBT people in their lives.

Millennials are not going to sit idle as friends, colleagues, and family members are denied their rights. They are already leading the charge on this issue, redefining conventional wisdom on marriage. Policy makers will continue to be seen as more and more out of touch if they refuse to follow suit. Possibly President Obama knew this to be true when he declared his personal support last month. In fact, one day, we may well divide the debate on same sex marriage by _before

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This saturday i will be hosting a big event in my community talking about sexual heathy rights and comp sex ed.

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The definition of prostitution is a person who barters sex to the sexual partner, usually accepting cash and sometimes Visa. It seems like we don’t deem prostitution a crime until the person has a large clientele. Pondering upon it, prostitution is probably the most under reported crime because people barter sex for material gain very casually and both parties are almost always satisfied.

If Prostitution was legalized and marketed it could be financially beneficial (occluding the attached spiritual, biological, and moral effects.) Our economy could use some excitement from stock buyers gorging on the promising stock of Prostitution. Do you think prostitution should be legitimized ?

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Safety first ,then Sex
The question was asked, “is it safer for prostitution to be legalized?” A sect believes that if prostitution were legal, prostitutes wouldn’t have to work on the radically harmful environment of the streets. Well, I can see that point to a certain extent. A prostitution company legitimized by bureaucrats and red-tape would naturally progress to safety precautions and regulations in the prostitution business. We would see security at the door of a brothel, paperwork involved to solidify consent of all parties, regular sexually transmitted disease testing, and condom requirements (much like the porn industry. Hmm this sounds exactly like the porn industry.–on second thought we don’t need to legalize prostitution we just need all sex workers to film their work and call it “entertainment”. Then –oh–it all makes perfect sense to policy makers and citizens.)
Room for Debates reports,  “A Canadian court recently ruled that laws preventing brothels endangered prostitutes by forcing them to work on the streets. And as the recent Secret Service scandal makes clear, in Colombia, prostitution is legal in “tolerance zones.” But in Spain, prostitution is essentially legal” as well as it is  legal in Amsterdam.
So what are your thoughts- IS it safer for prostitution to be legalized? At the very least, those in the sex worker industry SHOULD have the right to carry condoms with them, without fear of being arrested and thrown in jail for prostitution, if randomly frisked by a police offer. SAFETY FIRST- Everyone deserves that right!!!

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by Bianca Laureano

There’s been a lot going on over the past week to start off Pride month. Here are a few exciting and interesting stories. Please consider this trigger warning as these stories will be discussing transmisogyny, violence,

CeCe McDonald and Support
If you have yet to hear about CeCe McDonald, I don’t know what to say but get on it! In short, CeCe is a young Black trans woman who is a survivor of racist and transphobic and transmisogynistic comments in her home state of Minnesota which lead to violence. She was attacked by 4 people and fought back for her life. One of her attackers died and she has been incarcerated at a men’s prison for the past year. CeCe pled guilt to manslaughter for a reduced sentence and and was sentenced this week to 41 months in prison with some time served toward her sentence and to pay over $6000 in restitution.

CeCe has an amazing support time working to help her legally, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically during her incarceration. There are book clubs, letter writing campaigns,  fundraising,  and movement building that you can participate in today! Visit this site  as the main space to find more information and official updates from her team (there have been some unapproved CeCe petitions and such going around) and follow them on tumblr. 

Leslie Feinberg Arrested
Author and activist Leslie Feinberg was arrested on June 4, 2012 the day CeCe McDonald was sentenced.  One of the things I find incredibly important to be reminded of is from Feinberg’s official statement after arrest which reads in part:

As a white, working-class, Jewish, transgender lesbian revolutionary I will not be silent as this injustice continues! I know from the lessons of histories what is means when the state—in a period of capitalist economic crisis—enacts apartheid passbook laws, bounds up and deports immigrant works, and gives a green light to e white supremacists, fascist attacks on Black peoples—from Sanford, Florida, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to a courtroom in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The prosecutor and the judge are upholding the intent of the infamous white supremacist Dred Scott ruling of 1857.

The same year Fredrick Douglass concluded: “Without struggle, there is no progress!”

CeCe McDonald is being sent to prison during the month of Juneteeth: celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation—the formal Abolitionist of “legal” enslavement of peoples of African descent. The Emancipation Proclamation specifically spelled out the right of Black people to self-defense against racist violence.

Yet, the judge, the prosecutor, and the jailers are continuing the violent and bigoted hate crimes begun by the group of white supremacists who carried out a fascist attack on CeCe McDonald and her friends.

CeCe McDonald is being sent to prison in June—the month when the Stonewall Rebellion ignited in the streets of Greenwich Village in 1969. From the Compton’s Uprising to the Stonewall Rebellion, defense against oppression is a law of survival.

Ms. USA 2012
I’ve written about beauty pageants before, especially during my Media Maker’s Salon interview with Ms. Kings County 2011 Carmen B. Mendoza.  Now, I didn’t watch the Ms. USA 2012 pageant that was aired this past weekend, however the winner, Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island,  is making news. I’m most intrigued by her answer to her interview question (which is poorly worded) and generated via Twitter: “would it be fair if a transgender woman were to win the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?” See the video below for her answer which begins at the 1:30 mark.

She responds "I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country.”

So, there’s a LOT going on in this answer. It is clear she is showing support for trans women as contestants, which has gained some attention recently,  and believes that freedom and liberation are elements of the US that apply to all people. At the same time there is a connection to trans women must have surgery of some sort for them to be contestants. I think this response is telling to the limited knowledge of the needs and experiences of trans* communities, especially trans women. My hope is that folks realize no trans* person needs any form of surgery or medical intervention to be considered a real person regardless of their gender. The elitism and classism connected to these ideas need to be challenged because no surgery in our society is affordable! What do you think about her comments?

Radical Sisters
There’s been a ton of talk about the work nuns (also referred to as sisters) have been a part of creating to help some of the most vulnerable populations in our societies. Their work is not often seen as valuable, especially in a society like the US where communities of Color, people with disabilities, working poor people, and people who are chronically ill are not valued as much as others, this is troubling. Yet, for generations sisters have been working to end racism, ableism, elitism, classism and create a power-with approach versus power-over approach to working within communities. Here is a great in-depth report (with videos)  about what is currently going on among sisters in the US working on various social justice agendas that are not considered appropriate and even called “radical feminist.” Yes, we do live in a country where name-calling occurs and where “radical” and “feminist” are used as slurs, and where name-calling is used as a form of abuse, where women’s work no matter what form is questioned and deemed invaluable.

New Research on Biology and Race
Author and professor of Biology and Gender studies, Anne Fausto-Sterling reviews three new books that discuss biology and race. Her thorough review published this week in the Boston Review is amazing. She reviews Dorothy Roberts “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century,”  which examines breast cancer fatalities and experiences based on race in the US. Ann Morning’s “The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference,” looks into how academics in anthropology, biology and current undergraduates are taught about race. Richard C. Francis “Epigenetics: The Ultimate Mystery of Inheritance”  which discusses research that argues stress can impact a person’s physiology in such a great way that they can transmit that to their offspring, thus becoming inherited and a part of our genes that are passed down and could be a way to understand Alzheimer’s and diabetes (to name a few). The review is long, but that’s what I expect. Fausto-Sterling’s writing is somewhat accessible, but she is an academic and so there are larger words and some field-specific terms that I did not know. She leaves us with an interesting statement to conclude:

“The question of what exactly race is may be with us for while. But if we are dedicated to delivering social services and doing the right kind of laboratory research, we can, right now, address the comparative ill health of people of color, the poor, and the medically underserved.”

Sisterhood Summit Call for Proposals
The Black Girl Project’s 2nd Annual Sisterhood Summit is in the planning stages and there is a call for proposals.  As many of you know I’m a board member of The Black Girl Project, so this is something close to my heart. After last year’s Sisterhood Summit, the feedback from the young women present was overwhelmingly: we need to talk more about sex and sexuality! This year’s session is focused on all aspects of sexuality from abstinence, intimacy, anatomy, sexual orientation, safety, consent, and communication. This year there is also a track for parents who wish to attend who may also wish to accompany their child, or who desires to learn more ways to talk with their child, create messages that are appropriate and reflective of their values, and to gain more knowledge! Submit something today and keep an eye out for registration as the Sisterhood Summit is scheduled for mid-October.

Eryka Badu Talks Art
I was really excited to see this shared online, a video of artist Eryka Badu being interviewed about her process of creating art, her connection to her work, values, and how she finds peace of mind. She has some fascinating things to share and I hope soon there will be a transcript, but for now there is not. Check out the video below:

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Note: This blog of mine was first published on grist.org.

Days from now, some 130 heads of state and tens of thousands of activists from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the “Rio + 20” Earth Summit. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently laid out his vision for the conference in a New York Times article entitled “The Future We Want.”

Ki-moon expressed hope that the meeting will inspire new thinking, focus on people, and issue a “clarion call” for smarter resource use. He gave a nod to the importance of women, who “hold up half the sky,” and of young people, “the very face of our future.”

Still, one crucial ingredient went without mention: sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) The inclusion of SRHR and access to family planning completes the jigsaw puzzle of a just and sustainable world.

To understand why, consider the lives of the women who sell dried fish in my province – Leyte, in the Philippines. The women of Leyte are on the front lines of an unfolding environmental crisis. The Gulf they depend on for their livelihood has been ravaged by overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs, forests and mangroves. Where fishers once reeled in up to 50 kilograms a day, the average has now dropped to just 0-5 kilograms, barely enough to feed a family.

And climate change has disrupted the weather, making it too unpredictable to dry fish under the heat of the sun. The result, for the women of Leyte, is a substantial loss of income.

Large families are still the norm in Leyte, where most women have more than four children. Many would like to prevent or delay having another child; one in three births is unwanted or mistimed. But too many lack access to family planning and reproductive health services and information.

High fertility and declining income forces families to make painful choices. In many cases, one or two or even more of the children will be the “sacrificial lamb” who goes to work so at least some of their siblings can go to school. Most parents — especially mothers – want their children to finish school, since access to quality education can end the cycle of poverty. My own grandmother, who was widowed at the age of 33, struggled to make ends meet so that all of her four children could finish college and provide a promising future for their children.

Climate change and resource depletion will eventually affect all of the world’s people. But it is already gravely affecting the dried fish sellers in Leyte. There are efforts under way to help. The Green Climate Fund will finance climate adaptation in developing countries, and much can be done to promote better land use, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and secure rights for indigenous people.

These measures are necessary, but they are not sufficient. To make a powerful difference in the lives of the women of Leyte, we must ensure that SRHR and family planning are included in efforts to address climate change and promote sustainable development.

Family planning and SRHR is a potential game changer. Women who are empowered to make choices about childbearing are healthier and more resilient. They are more likely to invest in their children’s education; they and their children are less likely to be poor.

Imagine if the estimated 215 million women who now lack access to contraception were able to plan their families. Imagine unleashing the potential of 600 million adolescent girls, by ensuring their access to education, opportunities, and rights. In fact, imagine if every one of the planet’s three billion young people were empowered with rights and opportunity. Imagine that those young men and women are able to make informed choices to stay healthy and free of HIV; to marry if they choose and raise healthy, happy families. Imagine breaking the cycle of poverty and gender-based violence that has haunted humanity for generations and generations.

That is the future I want.

To make that future real, we must first guarantee basic human rights for women and young people. We must build a sustainable economy that is inclusive, not divisive; sustaining, not depleting. But most of all, we must ensure provision of basic social services such as education, health, and family planning for all.

We are a long way from these goals. Of the countries that have submitted plans for adapting to climate change, only the small island state of Sao Tome and Principe has included SRHR and family planning in their sustainable development plans. This is disheartening.

Yet, I do not lose hope. As Philippine Senator Gregorio Honasan said recently, “Doubt is the opposite of faith. And faith is the source of hope.” He is right; we should not lose faith. We need to work hard to bring family planning and SRHR to the Earth Summit negotiating tables. Let’s start with our own government leaders as they head to Rio this week.

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. ”..all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."

Hurling acid? Acid? Hurling acid in women’s faces. As if advocating an all-to-real threat of violence against women is an acceptable thing for a spokesman of a U.S. Representative to do.

This hideous quote came from Jay Townsend, a campaign spokesman for Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY). It appeared in a discussion (about gas prices!) on a Facebook page dedicated to dialogue within the district about local issues. There is so much in Townsend‘s quote, but I think we have to start with the acid; and that’s hard to do because I’m having a tough time conceptualizing how that quote could be said in this country and about some of our most powerful women. Actually, maybe that’s where I need to start. This did just happen in the United States. Our female political leaders were threatened with horrific violence. And worse, the Congresswoman he works for didn’t fired him. How is this true in 21st century America?

That question could be asked about a lot of things happening today, especially about women. How is access to birth control being threatened? How is getting an abortion today harder than it was 25 years ago? How are the bombings of Planned Parenthood clinics not considered domestic violence? The list continues: abstinence-only programs, filibustering the Paycheck Fairness Act and the DREAM Act, the serious lack of adequate parental leave, funding being cut for rape crisis centers and services for survivors of domestic violence, state constitutional bans on marriage equality, the ongoing 30+ year fight for an Equal Rights Amendment, mental health centers being closed, employment discrimination; it never ends. The reality is that this is the kind of environment that allows misogynists to threaten to throw acid into the faces of accomplished women.

This cannot be where our progress has led us, and yet this really happened. This is what happens under the ideology of wanting to put women “in their place.” Now this is where the other parts of the quote come in. Jay Townsend threatened these 12 women while accusing some of them of not paying their female staffers as much as they pay the men in their offices. That’s what he means by “Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites.” I have to note, though, that this claim is a bit sketchy.

While I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if the national wage gap was just as true in the halls of Congress as it is anywhere else, the report that he is pulling this information from isn’t exactly…visible. In his Facebook comment, Townsend linked to an article from a conservative newspaper called the Washington Free Beacon (note: that’s beacon, not bacon; I read it wrong the first time and was pretty confused) which claims that they analyzed information on how much Senate staffers are paid, and concluded that 37 of the 50 Senators in the Democratic caucus pay their female employees less than their male employees.

I was curious about this, and searched the article for a link to the study. It wasn’t there. So I tried to track it down myself, but every website that came up just linked back to the WFB article. Suspicious. Next, I tried to contact the writer through Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail, asking to be sent the report. Haven’t heard back yet. I then tried looking up the information myself, but each Senator has between 50 and 80 staffers working for them, and it would be impractical for me to nose dive into such a huge project. Which, of course, also made me wonder why the Washington Free Beacon felt it was necessary to take the time right now to do such a laborious analysis. Curious.

Townsend, though, tries to use this claim as proof of the Democrats being the ones waging a war on women. He gets very confused, though, as he appears to say that the democratic women are hurting women by not following the Lilly Letter Act or the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, and that that’s a bad thing, yet hates that they are trying to pass the PFA because it would force employers to pay their employees fairly, which is also apparently a bad thing. And then of course he also seems to be under the impression that the LLA and PFA only apply to private sector workers, which of course means that it wouldn’t apply to Senate staffers, but this, of course, is not true either.

Now, I mentioned earlier that Townsend had not been fired. The following is what has been happening since his statement. Townsend posted his comment on Facebook on May 26th. Six days later, Congresswoman Hayworth put out a statement, also on Facebook, calling the resulting outcry a “manufactured controversy.”

This is a manufactured controversy by a campaign operation that has, for months, hurled offensive rhetoric and imagery at Nan Hayworth on various Facebook pages, including the one mentioned today. It is a matter of public record that the moderator of the page in question, while purporting to represent an objective point of view, is on the payroll of the Becker campaign.

Wait, wait, wait. Stop. Hold up. So, you’re blaming your opponent’s campaign for your spokesperson threatening to burn women’s faces with acid and you’re wondering why people are upset? You really don’t see that they had an incredibly valid reason for being pissed; that all the evidence was there, and didn’t need any ginning up to seem outrageous? Is that what you thought? You’re a United States Congresswoman. Really?!?!

Two days after that, Townsend chose to resign. Note: He was NOT fired. He resigned. To be clear- he threatened to throw acid at women, and the woman he worked for chose not to fire him. Just to be clear. His announcement of his resignation, (say it with me!) over Facebook, still managed to make the whole thing worse.

It was stupid because my words were easily misconstrued; thoughtless because my choice of words obscured a point I was trying to make, and insensitive because some have interpreted the comment as advocating a violent act.

I’m sorry; your words were “misconstrued”?!? “Obscured”?!? Wrongly “interpreted” by “some” to be “advocating a violent act”?!?

Please! Tell me what is it exactly about “Let’s hurl some acid at those female Democratic Senators,” that I misinterpreted as advocating violence.

Please. Really. I’d love to see you try.

Rep. Nan Hayworth can be contacted through her Facebook page, her website, or at her office, at 202-225-5441.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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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.

Yo te conozco, bacalao: Recognizing PRENDA for what it is- by AFY_Aimee

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.

Lack of Sex Education Among Young Women in the Latino Community- by Brenda_Bri

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!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

————————————–
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)

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There are so many birth control options out there nowadays, its no wonder it can be confusing on what may be best for you. From ones to worry about day to day, monthly or even yearly, there is a contraceptive method that can and will be a perfect fit for everyone. There are methods you can take by mouth such as the pills. There are methods such as patches which deliver hormones through the skin or ones inserted into the body such as Nuvaring, Implanon or IUDs.


 

If you are interested in getting on a method of birth control, no one can determine what method is best for you but you and your doctor. You should do thorough research on methods you think you would like. See what methods close friends or family members use. Ask about their experiences- what they like and don’t like. You should go to reliable websites such as Planned Parenthood or South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign to get information if you do not have someone you can ask these personal questions to. To get started on your research, check out Your Birth Control Choices for basic information on a number of contraceptive options.

Always remember that SAFE SEX IS THE BEST SEX. Cost should never be an issue for why you cannot be on a reliable method of birth control. Check out Where Can I Go For Birth Control Options? if you need help finding places to go for reduce cost contraceptive methods.

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Just as people associate wrong links to the whole issue of climate change there also exists some right links toward the movement for climate change. According to a paper prepared for the WE ACT for Environmental Justice conference on advancing climate justice: transforming the economy, public health and our environment by Betsy Hartmann and Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, one of the right links towards the movement for climate change climate change is saying no to nuclear power rather than relating population, immigration and national security to climate change. Clearly climate change is one of the most urgent environmental, economic and social issues of our time and with the release of toxic chemicals which are so powerful and have varying effects on reproductive health the reasons to oppose the expansion of nuclear power are supposed to be enforced. As a matter of fact these byproducts of nuclear energy are very harmful not only to women who toil the earth surface daily in order to meet up with their families needs and risks such as early miscarriages and other reproductive effects but are also harmful to men who run the risk of testicular cancer or other reproductive health effects. Besides these reproductive health effects there are also environmental and social effects such as pollution, earth tremors, death, separation of families, unending grief and several other disasters which can and could be avoided if priorities are given to the right links in the movement for climate justice

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Sunday morning, a senior campaign advisor for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign named Eric Fehrnstrom was a guest on ABC’s “This Week.” While discussing efforts to reach female voters, the host asked Fehrnstrom to respond to an article from New York Magazine, quoting Obama’s chief political strategist, David Plouffe.

We’re gonna say, ‘let’s be clear what [Mitt Romney] would do as president’… Potentially abortion would be criminalized. Women would be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Fehrnstrom’s response indicated his belief that such a strategy wouldn’t work for Obama, stating that “This is not a social issue election.”

Mitt Romney is pro-life. He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy.

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, who was also on the panel, pointed out the (unsurprising) hypocrisy of such a claim.

“If it’s not a social issue election then why did Mitt Romney just spend the last year campaigning on social issues? These are his positions that he’s taken. Whether it’s giving bosses control over whether female employees can get contraception, being for the so-called personhood amendment that would ban all forms of abortion or telling the American people that he’ll get back to them on whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter [Fair Pay Act] — which is an economic issue and it should be a no-brainer, but the governor couldn’t even bring himself to be for that.”

While many people are already aware that the extreme, conservative policies that Romney supports throw women under the bus, the use of the term “shiny objects” crystallizes this in a deeper way. It demonstrates that the problem with conservative politicians being willing to significantly roll back women’s rights is that they don’t view them as significant to begin with. Describing issues as “shiny objects” implies they are meaningless, and only of notice or consequence to those who don’t know better. And these are the policies that are being debated in a presidential election? It suggests that women who care about losing legal access to contraception and abortion, being denied the rights and protections of marriage, and/or having a path to citizenship for themselves and their children are worried about meaningless, inconsequential things.

Policies that limit the rights and needs of women don’t belong in 21st century elections. Calling women’s rights “shiny objects” sounds more like something from the 19th century. We need candidates in both parties who realize that women’s rights are as valid and important as any other. In this century, women are not shiny objects and neither are their rights.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Sunday morning, a 24-year-old woman was raped in an apartment complex. She contacted her mother, who drove her to the nearest hospital (Integris Canadian Valley Hospital) to receive medical care for her assault. When they got there however, mother and daughter were shocked when the doctor assigned to her treatment informed them that due to budget cuts, there were no Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners on permanent staff to provide a rape kit. SANE nurses are specially trained and work only with rape victims, ensuring “the proper collection, preservation, and documentation of evidence” be provided to local law enforcement and the District Attorney “without re-traumatizing the victim.” Apparently, someone thought it was good enough to have SANE staff rotate monthly between four hospitals, each about 25- 35 minutes away from each other.

Worse, even though the hospital had emergency contraception available on hand and was not religiously affiliated, the doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to the young woman, based solely on the fact that it was against her “conscience.” In Oklahoma, and many other states, this is legal. “Conscience clauses” mean that if a medical provider has any personal, moral, or religious objection to performing or providing any specific act, they have the right to refuse care.

In an interview with KWTV News, the rape victim’s mother describes her shock and disappointment with how her daughter was treated.

“I was shocked that they wouldn’t provide treatment to a rape victim.”

“Her attitude was so condescending. It was like she was treating my daughter like she had done something wrong.”

My daughter said, “Is it you that won’t give [emergency contraception] to me? Do you have them here, and you just won’t give them to me?” And she said, “That’s right. I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs.”
“Even though she’d been advised that your daughter had just been raped?”
“Yes. Absolutely. She knew my daughter had just been raped.”

Reporter: Rhonda says at no time did the doctor offer to get another doctor at Canadian Valley Hospital to see them or to help her daughter.

“Her attitude was so judgmental. And I felt like she was just judging my daughter.”

This is yet another big problem because although the doctor had a right to personally refuse care, she also had “an obligation to minimize disruption in delivery of care,” which she clearly did not provide.

Rhonda decided to take her daughter to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where she was relieved to see that her daughter was given proper medical care and treated with respect.

“She was treated so well there. The staff, the doctors, the SANE examiners, they were just so wonderful to her. She stopped feeling like she was at fault.”

It is beyond comprehension how someone with a medical degree would reject medical science. It is impossible that this young woman was pregnant, having come to the hospital the day she was raped. That’s just not how pregnancy works, and a doctor should know that. IF her ovary had released an egg sometime in the past 24 hours and was making its way through her fallopian tube, and IF her rapist hadn’t been wearing a condom, and IF one of his sperm had reached the egg by the time she got to the hospital, she would STILL be about 8 to 11 days away from the fertilized egg becoming fully implanted in her uterus, making her officially pregnant. This means that there is absolutely no way for the doctor to object to emergency contraception on the basis that it would end a pregnancy. And then she has the gall to talk down to this woman whose been raped, as if she can’t believe that anyone who was forced to have sex wouldn’t love to become a mother because of it. This woman doesn’t deserve to practice medicine if she’s going to prioritize religiously-influenced beliefs over provable medical facts.

I’m working on gathering more information on this doctor, including confirming her name, determining if any disciplinary action is going to be taken, and if she has a history of providing inadequate care. I’ll provide updates as the story progresses. In the meantime, you can contact the hospital through their website if you’d like to voice your opinion

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Does it irritate anyone else that people against LGBTQ claim that people are trying to shove a certain way of life into everyones faces when they do the same thing? And does frustrate anybody that a straight couple can walk down the street and by standers gush about how cute they are but a gay/lesbian couple may get taunted or assualted? I don`t get it love is love whats so hard about that? Our society sucks and it`s quite annoying how people only see things as one way or the other. sorry about my little rant here i know its only my first post but i just wish thinks could change and i`ll never give up hope that they will. 
have a nice day Y`all hehe 
-GM  

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On Wednesday we discussed the Trojan horse Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (aka PRENDA), a bill which would have banned sex-selective abortion and punished doctors with jail time for performing such abortions.  On Thursday the House voted the bill down.  Supporters of the bill say:

The plan all along, they said, was to use the vote to paint Democrats as disingenuous in their support for women’s rights by arguing that they voted against a bill intended to protect unborn baby girls.
 

Hogwash, or as Aimee said on Wednesday, codfish.  She pointed out, abortion is only one way sex selection is accomplished, yet Republicans are not attacking sperm-sorting or any of the other procedures.  And banning any kind of abortion, especially with jail time for doctors, only further stigmatizes the procedure and makes it harder for all women to get.  True support for women’s rights must include supporting the right to safe and legal abortion.  That’s not disingenuous, it’s just a fact.

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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A 10-year old girl who was a victim of sexual abuse has made a shocking confession, saying that she cannot do without having sex with men daily.
She narrated how an old man, who was their neighbour at Mile 12, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, lured her into sex at seven and since then she cannot resist having sex everyday. The primary two pupil said if she did not see any man to have sex with her in her area, she would go to a popular under bridge at Mile 12 Lagos and beg for sex from touts.
She said she came from Enugu state to Lagos to live with her aunt after the death of her father.
Her case has become so serious that she had to be referred to an NGO, Community Health Support and Empowerment Initiative, COHSAEI, which has taken up the challenge to rehabilitate her.
The little girl said she was lured into sex by a man she called Baba who lived with her aunt in the same compound.
She said the man (Baba) usually called her to his apartment whenever his wife and her aunt were not around and will put his finger inside her private part.
“He will tell me to come back home immediately our school closes and when I reach home he will be waiting for me to finger my vagina,” she narrated.
She said with time he started having real sex with her.
She said when the man that initiated her into it moved out of their area, she resorted to meeting other men in the area without her aunt knowing.
She said she has become addicted to sex and cannot do without it.
“When I desire sex and I do not see anybody to do it in my area, I will go under the bridge and beg the touts to do it for me,” he said.
Her predicament came when she confessed to her teacher what she was going through after the teacher noticed some abnormal behaviour in her.
The teacher contacted her aunt who contacted an NGO for assistance.
The programme coordinator of the NGO, Mrs. Priscilla Ingbia, noted that her case was very pathetic because of her age. She said her group took up the challenge to rehabilitate her because it was clear if nothing was done urgently her future was in danger.
She said her organisation has started the process of rehabilitating her by carrying out series of tests on her to ascertain her health conditions.
Ingbia stressed the urgent need to relocate her from her present environment and start a new life for her.
She said her organisation has not been able to do so because of the financial cost of doing so.

Source: PM News

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 I want to share with you the post, I wrote before in my Russian blog

Why don’t some gay men and bisexuals follow the rules of safe sex even if they are
aware of them? Why did they risk and deal with unsafe sex?

Below I have compiled a list of answers to these questions after a long and painstaking
interviewing of several gay and bisexual men in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan:

Gay or bisexual men in Bishkek avoid safe sex, because:

• They mistakenly assess the risk of being infected by HIV and STIs

• They are under pressure from their sex partners who are totally against having
safe sex and prefer unsafe practices for different reasons

• It is commonly believed that you won’t catch HIV or STIs, if you are top. This is
actually a myth, and they may also get infected by HIV or STIs.

• It is believed that the interrupted oral or anal sex is completely safe. This is the
second myth. Not only sperm, but also precum fluid can contain HIV or STIs.

• They have a mistaken belief that their sex partner doesn’t have HIV or
STIs. Some believe that if a guy looks healthy, then he can’t be infected. Others
pay attention to the young age or little sexual experience. None of these
characteristics may be indicators of a negative HIV status of partners.

• They are under strong alcohol/drugs influence, when they are not able to make
responsible decisions

• They are too lazy to buy condoms and lubricants

• It is believed that condom reduces the sensitivity and they will get less pleasure during sex.

• It is believed that married men are not infected with HIV or STIs

• They are in situations that force them to have unsafe sex. For example, if they are
sex workers.

• They believe their partners when they say that they are virgins, they have sex very rarely, they practice only safe sex, etc.

• They are afraid of expressing their rights to have safe sex

• They believe that safe sex is boring, ordinary, uninteresting. Unsafe sex is much
more attractive.

• It is believed that once permanent partner appeared, then they can get rid of
condoms and immediately stop practicing unsafe sex

• After a long continence they can afford a bit of ‘risk’

• They feel shy to wear a condom or to offer their partner to wear it

Are there any other possible reasons that I didn’t mention here?

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In this blog post I want to give you a short overview of IDAHO concept, goals, and history both worldwide and in Kyrgyzstan.

This day was officially launched in 2004, when an instructor, lecturing in one of the universities in France, Louis-Georges Tin, established the IDAHO Committee [link], which coordinates the IDAHO events worldwide, providing with necessary resources and recommendations.

IDAHO is celebrated on May 17, because World Health Organization eliminated homosexuality from International Classification of Diseases exactly on May 17, 1990.

Since 2004 the number of various events, dedicated to IDAHO, has been increasing dramatically, involving more and more countries, local initiatives, non-governmental and community organizations, international organizations, universities and private companies.

In 2009 IDAHO began to draw more attention to transgender issues: new petitions were signed and France became the first country in the world, which excluded the transsexualism from the list of mental disorders.

In 2010 the President of Brazil signed the special act, according to which National Day Against Homophobia is officially recognized and celebrated annually.

The goal of IDAHO is discussion LGBT issues and creation of the platform for the dialogue between LGBT community, mass media, the Government, civil society and religious institutions.

Short History of IDAHO in Kyrgyzstan

IDAHO-Kyrgyzstan started in 2005, when a round table was organized in the office of "Adilet" (Law Clinic). The representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman Insitute and the Ministry of Internal Affairs insisted that there’s no disciminiation against LGBT and the Constitution actually defends everybody in the republic. One representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that he would beat the guys, holding their hands and walking in the park (the sotry was shared by Anna Kirey).  

In 2006 Alex (a local transgender activist) told his story in the local channel KOORT. This year activists gathered information about violence (and sexual violence in particular) and later, the collected cases were presented in the report of Human Rights Watch.

Beginning 2006 IDAHO was celebrated mostly in the community of LGBT and their allies for safety reasons. However, more and more public actions and seminars were organized as a part of IDAHO until 2012, when IDAHO-Kyrgyzstan became a strong joint platform of several local organizations and intiatives. Click here for more info about IDAHO Kyrgyzstan-2012


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We all have different opinions on whether or not family size matters especially in a world where our resources are becoming scarcer. Those living in developed countries and even urban areas in developing countries find it hard to understand why women in developed countries and rural areas have large numbers of children. Many times we end up asking ourselves, “But don’t they know about family planning and contraception?”

The sad truth is that while many women know about the existence of family planning methods, these methods are not readily available to them. Many women have often said that they wish to delay their next child or not have any more children but due to the unavailability of contraceptives, cultural barriers, and even the absurd ideology that women ought to bear children, prevents women from planning their families. While in the developed areas, the availability of contraceptives is often taken for granted, the developing countries are suffering the consequences of lack of family planning and it is clearly being reflected in the poverty levels. While in these developed countries having more children means security in one’s old age and more helping hands, the truth is that these people are depleting their own resources without even realizing it.

For many, bringing population growth to a halt is one of the best ways to minimize environmental degradation. But is over-population really the big issue to be targeted? I believe that over-population is not as blameworthy as is the issue of lack of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) education. Personally, I feel that it sounds too harsh on people who rely on their children to survive to regard overpopulation as the main reason for the environmental issues that are presently affecting us. Yes, it’s true that population growth is a problem, but we need to keep in mind that developing countries live in a different socio-cultural environment that favors big families. When addressing the issue of family planning, it is important that we understand the socio-cultural aspect of communities so that our approach is more sensitive to the needs of women and young people.

Categories: Uncategorized
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          “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.

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 I loved this month! Too many inspiring and positive things happened! 

Especially, I’m happy with IDAHO (international Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) in Kyrgyzstan. 


The official logo of IDAHO Week in Kyrgyzstan-2012

This year several organizations in Kyrgyzstan joined their efforts in celebrating IDAHO. We created a joint platform with the following organizations:
Labrys (The most leading LGBT organization, working both on national and community levels)
Bishkek Feminist Initiative SQ (Fascinating young organization of super-amazing activists-feminists :)
Kyrgyz Indigo (Another awesome young GB organization, which already has a huge positive impact onto gay and bisexual community in Bishkek and other regions)
Transgender Initiative Group (One of the most visible transgender groups in Kyrgyzstan)
Pathfinder (LGBT organization, which has done a lot for understanding ties between LGBT issues and religion)

IDAHO Week started officially on May 16 with a press-conference and presentation of the program of IDAHO Week in Kyrgyzstan. We talked about the history of IDAHO both in the world and in Kyrgyzstan, the situation with human rights of LGBT in Kyrgyzstan, the importance of raising transgender issues and the situation of transgender people in Kyrgyzstan, followed by the video-presentation of personal stories of local LGBT. By the way the conference hall was provided by "Kloop Media", to my mind, the most LGBT-friendly and socially responsible news agency (and blog-platform at the same time) in Bishkek.

There were many events in Bishkek, dedicated to this day:
– Two TV-shows on local TV channels: OTRK (Public Teleradio Company) and 5-kanal (5th channel).
The first one was supposed to be a discussion about violation of human rights of one LGBT individual in Kyrgyzstan, however, it turned out to be another talk-show about morality vs. immorality, pathologies vs. norms, Kyrgyz traditions vs. western influence. Several local LGBT and ally organizations took part in the TV-show. I was also invited to talk about the violation of human rights of LGBT as a Kyrgyz gay young man.
You can see the video from the talk show in Kyrgyz language here

Interconfessional praying for the victims of homophobia 
"We cannot remain silent when millions of men and women suffer from, or threatened, tortured and even killed somewhere in the world, just because they exist, like the way the Lord gave them." That’s why they invited people to carry out this prayer for homosexuals, who were/are victims of violence or intimidation.

Street action "This is a letter for you!"
A group of activists informed residents of Bishkek city on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. In the city center they distributed materials containing basic information about homosexuality and the day of May 17.

The special event "Against homophobia and transphobia: solidarity, cooperation, joint creativity" (together with the platform "SHTAB")
During several days before IDAHO week LGBTs together with allies/friends were working together in the workshop of "Non-alienated protest", preparing videostories of LGBT ("LGBT in Kyrgyzstan: attitude towards the world, people, things, and toward themselves"), animation, printed T-shirts and stickers with slogans.

- The private party, dedicated to May 17 in one of the local gay clubs "Gvozd’" in Bishkek
The party for the community and allies, "Together we are the rainbow!". People at the party wore clothes, the colors of which matched one of the rainbow colors. There were songs and dances, contests and prizes, body art and the distribution of bright ribbons.

Mini-installation «TREAM»
TREE + DREAM = TREAM
We made and decorated an artifical tree and "planted" it in the local park. The tree was a symbol of LGBT wishes, dreams, problems and plans. Anyone, approaching the tree, hang a shred with written wishes, dreams or message to the community, allies, or the world.

Art action "We are on the way!" 
A group of activists and allies organized a trip to the mountains, where they made a big sign from colored stones. 

The workshop "How to respond to and prevent hate speech and intolerance against LGBT"
The interactive seminar helped to understand how everyday practices – the way people talk about the LGBT community – impact on the overall social prejudices and mechanisms of violence and oppression. Through various exercises seminar participants developed strategies and skills to respond to homophobic and transphobic approval or discussion, taking into account possible risks. Many people often hear various comments that overtly or implicitly express negative attitudes toward LGBT and they do not know how to prevent it. In order to make the world better, we need this crucial step – to stop the language of intolerance as a friend, family member, classmate or colleague, activist and expert.

- The public lecture "Policies, practices and identities of LGBT in the context of social institutions and hierarchies: from stigma to human rights"
The lecture discussed the social regulation of sexuality by the various institutions through the perspectives of the historical and discursive analytical approaches. Sexuality was examined as political: the processes of control and regulation of human bodies, practices, identities occur through the law, socio-medical sciences, religion, traditions, concepts of progress and human rights. 

- The workshop "How to be an ally to transgender people"
The participants received adequate and comprehensive information about the transgender people in Kyrgyzstan and their difficulties and challenges, learned how to ask questions properly and how to avoid degrading statements. This introductory workshop helped participants not only to understand, but also to develop strategies and skills how to support and become an ally, a friend or/and a friendly activist.

You can get more information in Russian here [The article at Kloop News]

Click here if you want to get more info about the history of IDAHO both worldwide and in Kyrgyzstan

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Ever since I became a youth blogger for Advocates, I’ve had a little bit of trouble defining what exactly it is I do.

“You write?” they’d ask. “What do you write for them?”

Now the answer to that particular question rests on who asks. If it’s a younger person, someone around my age, maybe about 13 to 35 years old, or someone I knew was in the same field, I’d give it to them in detail. I add the words ‘sexual’ and ‘reproduction’; ‘women’s issues’ and ‘young people’s rights’. I’d explain why I wanted to be a part of this and make them excited that I am. Hey, I’d even make then realize that they’ve been doing nothing to further their cause as young people in Nigeria and leaving their mark.

On the other hand, if that same question was asked by a much older person – someone who wouldn’t be described as a “young person” unless you used the phrase “young at heart”, then I’d give them the truth, but not be as plain and as straightforward as I normally would be. I tried telling some older women in full detail, but apparently all they could think to ask was whether I was doing this because I couldn’t find a man to marry. Enough said…

Those who are familiar with Advocates for Youth as an international organization involved in the advocacy of sexual and reproductive health rights think what I’m doing is great. Others find it odd, very odd that a young woman in Nigeria would be interested in such a thing. How ironic is that?

Mother’s friends think it’s too much “oyinbo” in me, but really, I’m as black and as Nigerian as the next person – I’m just a bit more open-minded that they would like me to be. A young woman of independent thought – something a few people lack – and dread around here. Besides, how will she ever get married if she does things like this, they’d ask.

Of all my four siblings, only one knows that I’m a youth blogger for Advocates for Youth, and even with that, I’m not so sure she understands what I do. Granted I may not have communicated as well as I should have, but why bother? If the topic has cannot be connected with shopping, marriage and/or having babies, in any way that they can relate to, then I might as well be wasting the oxygen in the room.

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.

My mother still dreads talking to me about anything sexually related. Our last conversation about HIV/AIDS left me shaking – with laughter! She looked so uncomfortable and gave me so many misinformations, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was in an organization that advocated for safe sex and HIV prevention, and that I probably knew a lot more about this than she was letting on. And to date, that was her only foray into my sexual education – thank goodness!

With no one to turn to, I had to do things my way. Chart my own path, make mistakes, learn quickly and never underestimate the willingness of school “teachers” to fire misleading information concerning sex and child bearing. Case in point: my biology once told us, this being a true story that a girl could get if she sits on the toilet bowl that has some sperm on it. Keep in mind that I was in an all girls’ boarding school, 17 years old and incredibly naive. This was also before the going online was affordable in Nigeria, mobile phones with good browsers existed and Google in my life.

I have lots of reasons for being an advocate for women’s rights, especially as they relate to sexual and reproductive health rights. Well, I am a woman. Duh!

But most importantly, its the obligation of every person, whether male, female, young, old to advocate and make these rights known. Hundreds of reports have been given backing why the education and and encouragement of women not only strenghtens a community, but the nation, leading to sustainable development in wider spheres of varying sectors. Not to mention that improved standard of living for has been observed in homes where the wives, the daughters are educated and a better understanding of their rights and that of their families.

I love being a woman. Truth be told, I used to despise it, but not anymore. Looking back, I felt that I was being short changed. Paying a life long debt because the Lord decided that I should have breasts. But I know now I was an idiot. I celebrate my feminity every chance I can. I’m dancing as I write this now. I hope you’ll all join me. lol

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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.

Source: www.todayonline.com

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Two weeks ago decided venture out of my little slice of heaven I call Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, its haven of calm, its blissful organisation to Lagos, Nigeria’s very own Sin City: the economic powerhouse of my great nation, over flooded due to bad drainage and pollution; overpopulated with many of its residents living in squalor. Clean water scarce if available at all, and barely no electricity – they survive on generators – and absolutely no peace and quiet! Darkness, noise and filth as far as the eye could see.

Formerly Nigeria’s very own trashopolis, now thankfully, only the obligatory heaps of trash by the busy roadsides, potholes everywhere you drive and poverty. Yes, the terrible poverty that so many seem to endure, no, to exist by. Little children competing with aged men and women with basins of fruit, bread or cold drinks on their heads running between dangerously speeding vehicles in traffic, hawking their wares, and even their bodies, instead to going to school.

Mothers who cannot fend for their newly born babies, mostly twins, triplets and even quadruplets, lay them out on the pavements, so as the world passes by, they would take pity on her and drop a little token to feed the little ones, even only for the day’s meal.

And they say Nigeria has improved? How much so?

Most times we talk about sending children to school to get educated, educating girls to improve a nation’s chances of becoming more sustainable economical and socially. But when I see what Lagos had to offer its "leaders of tomorrow", I couldn’t help a snort of derision. Lagos state has for the past few months been under siege due to the state wide doctors strike, where the governor of the state fired over 700 doctors. Though they have had great strides in recent years, not paying the doctors who work for the state for almost a year, is in terrible form, to say the least. I cannot imagine the patients who are still suffering and have died from all sorts of illnesses and complication. Most especially the women.

The education system in the entire country to burning up in flames, or it might as well be, given the lack of primary foundation so many students lack. Imagine a 3rd year undergraduate can not speak coherent English or even spell simple words.

In previous years regular news of discouragement that secondary school (high school) students continually take home to their parents after another failed attempt at their university entry level examinations was a cause of concern. Well, not anymore. To solve this problem, the wise and intelligent people at the country’s Ministry of Education decided to sole the matter. not by finding a solution to the lack of foundation those students have, but by reducing the cut off mark for the university entrance examinations to 180 over 400 points. Not only does that mean that Nigeria is allowing its young ones to get a higher education at the lowest score possible below the average rate, those in government are encouraging lack of discipline, curiosity and pride in accomplishment. This is the same nation whom, not more than a year ago referred to its recent graduates as “half-baked” and incapable of a single coherent thought, all somewhat true for some. And that was before they had the university entry examination scores reduced. Some students aren’t to blame. Some corrupt university officials withhold results and admit other less deserving students into the university, for a course they have no foundation or knowledge for.

How can we hope for sustainable development when we do everything in our power to make sure that doesn’t happen?
As a law student, I know the pains of gaining admission and studying a course for 5 years plus an addition year for law school just so my family can brag to their friends that their daughter is a barrister. But what will all this school, as this spending money on an education system that is deeply flawed and rotting? Why bother applying myself when I have full knowledge of someone who would not only help me get straight A’s in whatever course I do, but will also give me whatever CGPA I prefer as long as I have the money to pay for it?

The lack of well trained teachers passionate about the knowledge they would soon impact on their students are rare and almost nonexistent in state run schools. Meager salaries that are rarely paid for an educator to fend for himself and his family, over populated classrooms, ancient textbooks our parents would recognize fondly, class notes lecturers have used for almost a decade (no lie); amongst other ailments don’t help anyone, least of all those that educate or those to be educated.

I was lucky. I had parents who didn’t just want me to study hard and learn at school, they also wanted me to be curious and excited about learning outside the classroom. I went the extra mile because I could, I had the foundation to excel and I had parents who could afford to send me to school. I know I am lucky. But those kids with basins on their heads, begging for alms and running between traffic to sell water at the risk of being hit by vehicles are not. They don’t have a choice, their parents can’t afford school and living. If they had a choice, I doubt it if any child of theirs would want to carry loads more than twice their size for less than 2 dollars a day.

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by Bianca Laureano

This is the tenth anniversary of Sarah Baartman (also known as Saartjie Baartman)  being returned to her home in South Africa. Sarah is an important woman to me because she reminds me of how bodies of Color, bodies that are feminine, and the sexuality of Black and African women remain devalued in the world we live in today. If you do not know Sarah’s legacy I’ll share a bit of it with you here.

Sarah Baartman was a Khoisian woman from South Africa. Born in the late 1780s (yes, you read that correctly), Sarah was a member of the Khoikhoi community. 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. The reality was that her body shape and size were very much characteristics of her being a member of her community and thus not that odd.

From an outsider’s perspective she was seen as having extremely large buttocks and genitals and it was these parts of her body that were on display for those in Europe to view, for a price. Each person who wanted to see the body of Sarah, who was marketed as a “freak” paid a price to an animal trainer who “managed” her. We do not know if Sarah was given any of this money. Her body and life on display became a part of the foundation that created the scientific and anthropological theories about African sexualities, Black bodies, and difference that are still present today.

After four years in Europe she went to France where scientist William Cuvier became interested in her for the same reasons Dunlop was. Her “showings” were extremely popular and several images and cartoons were created about her presence in Europe and France. You can see some of those images here. It is believed Sarah may have become a sex worker in order to survive once the doctors lost interest in her. Being in a foreign country with different climate, illnesses, and hygienic expectations, Sarah died of an infection of which people now believe could have been syphilis.

When Sarah died, her body was taken by a museum in Paris: the Musee de l’Homme.  At the museum a cast of her body was created, her brain and genitals removed and “preserved,” and her skeleton all put on display. Again. In the museum. For over 150 years after her death, the museum had her on public display. Some believe it was 1974 that she was removed from public display, others 1985, either way it was well over a century.

Even though her body was no longer on public display, the museum kept her body in their archives. When President Nelson Mandela requested her body be returned in 1994, it took 8 years for an agreement. In May 2002 her body was returned to South Africa and buried August 9, 2002 on South Africa’s Women’s Day.

Now you know a bit about Sarah Baartman’s life (please don’t refer to her as the derogatory name “Hottentot Venus”). When we discussed this in the course I’m teaching about women, art, and culture, my students were shocked. They were shocked that this went on for so long, many stating how they were born only a few short years after she was taken off of public display. Others questioned why there was resistance by the museum in returning her to South Africa. We had a great conversation about what museums represent, who they represent, and what and how are certain people, things, and topics considered art.

Many folks have used her legacy and life as a force for change, activism, and new forms of media and art. For example, in 1998 Khoisian activist and scholar Diana Ferrus wrote “A Poem for Sarah Baartman”  that many believe led to the agreement to send her body home and was read when her body was handed over at the South African embassy in Paris. Her poem is below:

I’ve come to take you home –
home, remember the veld?
the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees
the air is cool there and the sun does not burn.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white
and the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs
as it hobbles along over little stones.

I have come to wretch you away –
away from the poking eyes
of the man-made monster
who lives in the dark
with his clutches of imperialism
who dissects your body bit by bit
who likens your soul to that of Satan
and declares himself the ultimate god!

I have come to soothe your heavy heart
I offer my bosom to your weary soul
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands
I will run my lips over lines in your neck
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
and I will sing for you
for I have come to bring you peace.

I have come to take you home
where the ancient mountains shout your name.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white –
I have come to take you home
where I will sing
for you for you have brought me peace.

I think it’s interesting that as I’ve written this article in a word processing program on my computer, that Sarah’s first name of “Saartjie” and last name were highlighted as being spelled incorrectly, when the names of the two doctors: William Dunlop and William Cuvier, were both recognized and not ever highlighted for misspellings. This is a great example of the normalization of such practices based on white supremacy and eugenics and the erasure of the lives of women of Color and of Sarah Baartman’s.

It is this same erasure that many of us are fighting to end. Some ways to challenge the erasure and invisibility is by sharing her legacy, asking questions, creating knowledge, healing, and seeing the connections of injustice and fighting to end them. Read more about Sarah Baartman’s life and if you are interested encourage your school or local library to purchase the two films about her life by Swazi filmmaker Zola Maseko  “The Life and Times of Sarah Baartman” and “The Return of Sarah Baartman.” 

I’m writing this post, sharing it with my community online, teaching about her life and legacy, and discussing it with people in my life. I’m reminding all of the people of Color in my life they are loved and their bodies their own. What will you do to remember Sarah Baartman?

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Almost everyone knows about the general state of LGBTQ rights and issues, but few know what really goes on underneath the surface. It seems as though with every major issue, there is always a mini-war going on with sub-divided factions. For example, there’s racism on a larger scale, and then there’s a skin-color debate on a smaller scale – darker skinned people against lighter skinned ones, the former claiming that the latter has it easy because the color of their skin is a hue that affords them the ability to “pass”. It’s been the same in the LGBTQ community for a while without many being able to decipher what’s going on. Take for instance, the growing idea that a person has to identify as one thing or another. On the other hand, there’s the equally perplexing idea that a person has more than one kind of identity – sexual, gender etc. I say perplexing because, how is one supposed to have ONE identity, but still, have many facets of an identity? Human sexuality is a simple complexity. Simple in the sense that a person is who they are regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and complex in the sense that a person can identify with so many different labels, and also, that labels don’t always mean the same thing. And this is why I maintain that sexuality is evolutionary.

I re-watched all six seasons of Showtime’s “The L Word” series about a year ago, and I was disappointed to see that some of the judgmental nature which is pervasive in society was also present in that particular fictional LGBTQ community. Take for example, Alice Pieszecki, the only bisexual woman in the series. She is constantly hassled by her friends to pick one side. For these women who have firmly established themselves as lesbians, it’s a little odd to be in the middle. After all, being a lesbian is liberating, and even more so in a society where it is mostly only tolerated. It’s not a fad, but it’s great to live the life you really want to with no compromise at all. My problem with this is that it feeds into the nonsensical opinion that there is no such thing as bi-sexuality. Let’s face it; it’s a label that draws ire from many. And shockingly, even from within the LGBTQ community. Bisexual people have been labeled as flaky, confused, and greedy. I’ll admit that I myself shied away from that label at first, choosing instead to identify as queer. But now that it has been amended by some to mean, “Sexual attraction towards two genders, or genders the same and different to yours.”, I feel a little better about it. I still don’t identify with that because of my non-belief in the gender binary, and consequently, the possibility of an attraction towards more than two genders. Confused?

Tina Kennard’s situation is similar. She is not described as a straight woman, neither does she identify as one. Throughout the six seasons, Tina is known as a lesbian who “lived largely as a straight woman” before she met Bette Porter, who she had a baby with after being partners for seven or eight years. There are two fascinating things about Tina’s case. First, the fact that she still identifies as a lesbian after she begins to be attracted to men again is consistent with my proponent theory that labels are not entirely definitive of a person’s sexuality, and that sexuality is evolutionary. The second fact is a disturbing one. I have observed many situations (mostly fictional) where heterosexuality is perceived not as normative, but as a minor sexuality. In other words, there is no “equality” of sexual orientations; rather it is an extreme argument against a heterosexual identity. To me, opinions like these go against the whole idea of equality. You want to exercise your basic human rights the same as others, but yet you think they’re the abnormal ones? Rather than this radically overzealous championing of sexuality, why not take the approach of homonormativity which incorporates heteronormative ideals and constructs into LGBTQ culture and individual identity.

In particular I always remember the scene in season 4, episode 4 where Papi challenges Alice to a basketball game. When Tina showed up, Jenny had some very interesting things to say. Oh I never liked Jenny Schecter! Her exact words to Tina were, "Yeah, but when you walk down the street with your boyfriend holding your boyfriend’s hands enjoying all the heterosexual privileges, you stopped being a lesbian," I can understand the use of the word “privilege”, but I have a huge problem with it being used to attack a person. As though they were personally responsible for the way heterosexuality is; as though they chose to date people of the same sex just so it would be easier. I’m not sure if this is a good analogy, but it’s kinda like Mo’nique and her book, “Skinny Women Are Evil”. The fact that people who certain categories of people are treated better does not make them evil or less legitimate. There are a lot more examples of how “The L Word” constantly reinforced negative stereotypes of bisexuality, but this is not a post deconstructing that series. It is my opinion that this biphobia was recurrent speaks to the general state of things.

My question is this – how did we get from a unified front of equality to such a fragmented view of things? Here’s another bad analogy – it’s kind of like a dog eating her pups. It’s one thing for society to exhibit phobia towards certain sexual orientations and gender identities, but it’s another thing altogether when people who are supposed to form some sort of support group, are the ones doing some of the damage.

“Policing Gender & Sexuality” is a series on well, gender and sexuality. These posts serve to illuminate and deconstruct some of the ongoing issues in the LGBTQ community.

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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.

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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.

Amazing.

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?”

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The activist group LiveAction, working with anti-abortion activist Lila Rose, is pretty pleased with its series of “stings” on Planned Parenthood. What they "uncover" seems to be that Planned Parenthood provides abortions, which I thought anti-abortion activists were already well aware of, but which always seems shocking to them.

Today’s noise specifically is around sex-selective abortion. In the recently released Live Action video, a woman visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic tells the counselor that she plans to abort if the fetus is female.  

This operation’s cover had already been blown in April. That’s because, as Amanda Marcotte pointed out, requests for sex-selective abortion are so rare that Planned Parenthood staff immediately knew something was fishy when the actors came to the clinics.

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.

“Surely you care about female babies – surely you don’t CONDONE aborting female babies?” they ask – pressuring us as pro-choice activists to condemn this kind of abortion.

Our girls are at risk, “especially in China,” the video is careful to note – preparing the viewer to make assumptions about the race of the woman asking for the abortion: race-baiting being another of the anti-abortion movement’s favorite tricks.

And it’s no coincidence: yesterday the video is released; today Congress votes on legislation which would ban abortion based on the sex of a fetus, which threatens doctors with up to five years in prison if they perform such an abortion.  (Read Aimee Thorne-Thomsen’s blog on this legislation)

It’s by dividing and conquering – by getting us to judge other women’s abortions – that they chip away at abortion rights, passing restrictions for young people, bans after a certain point in the pregnancy, bans on certain reasons for the abortion. They invite us to distance ourselves from the abortions we personally don’t approve of, and shame us as monsters if we respond by saying we support all women’s right to decide if and when to end a pregnancy.

But we must always remember that their goal isn’t to prevent sex-selective abortions or 20 week abortions or “frivolous” abortions. It’s to ban all abortions. LiveAction’s videos are a sideshow, but with this week’s legislation and hundreds of bills pending in state legislatures, we can’t afford to just roll our eyes at anti-abortion tactics or keep quiet when the conversation would be unpleasant. We can’t afford to give them any ground at all – we must stand in solidarity with all women and activists and demand the right to safe and legal abortion.

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According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 600 000 children (Most of whom are girls) were victims of child trafficking in 2005.Most of these victims are girls who do not go to school or are school dropouts. Horizon Jeunesse (Youth Horizon), an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) based in Yaoundé (Cameroon’s capital city) claims that, about three million the Cameroonian children are working or being trafficked in conditions of near slavery (http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=34063).These children are often taken away from their parents by their relatives who promise to provide the children education and training but once in town these children are forced to prostitute, hawk and in most cases end up as street children.

Child trafficking in Cameroon is most rampant in its rural areas. Child trafficking like forced/premature marriages, child labour, massive rural exodus, high rate of school drop outs, drastic drop in agricultural productivity, high vulnerability to diseases due to poor sanitation and housing conditions and a high child mortality rate are results of the neglect and abandonment of rural areas by policy makers and are a consequence of the inadequacy of current policies for the fight against poverty, disease, and illiteracy in rural areas-when these even exist .This explains why parents of victims and the victims themselves are ready to pay any price to see greener pastures which they have been promised by human traffickers.

Summer holidays constitute the peak period for child trafficking in Cameroon. The month of May marks the end of the academic year in Cameroon and therefore the massive exodus of pupils and students from rural to urban areas in search of greener pastures. I am then not surprised that movement into major urban centers in Cameroon has scaled up in recent weeks.

In fact, I have noticed that, as years go by, the number of children leaving their villages to ‘work their school fees’, as this is referred to in Cameroon, is ever increasing while the average age of these children, who while on holiday, hawk, peddle, and carry out all sorts of activities that will enable them go back home with something with which to pay their school fees and buy their school needs, has sensibly reduced.

While I understand that agriculture is the main means of subsistence for a majority of people living in rural communities of Cameroon, and that the fact that agriculture is in crisis, has greatly contributed in making them more powerless and vulnerable to disease, and climate change, I am also completely opposed to the practice of using children as a source of revenue for the family. I am wounded in my soul whenever I find a child who carries a load which out weights him/her just because they are selling one thing or the other so that his/her family can survive.

Also, the fact that Sexual abuse and rape are on the rise during summer holidays in Cameroon is an indicator that with the desire to make their ends and those of their families meet comes exposure of these tender souls to horrible acts such as rape and other forms of sexual assaults. In fact it is no longer news in Cameroon when information that a rapist who, with the pretext of buying 2 pieces of Chewing Gum (costing less than 5 cents),lure these children to isolated areas or into their homes and sexually assault them.

Acts like those described above are not only criminal but destructive and wicked because of the trauma and long lasting negative effects they have on the reputation, self –esteem and on the sexual and reproductive health of the victims. While these despicable acts call for the toughest and harshest action against its perpetrators, prevention remains a better cure. Enough is enough! I am tired of seeing the future of the children of Cameroon given to rapists on a platter of Gold. Let’s be responsible enough to stop sacrificing the happiness of these children on an Alter of the ‘fight for survival’.

The government, parents, and all those involved in child trafficking should not ignore the heavy psychological and health burden that the enslavement of their children represents. Children are the future of our world and merit to be treated better. No degree of poverty, pain, and suffering should ever justify their enslavement. Vigilance of the government and civil society organisations has to be heightened at this moment for this summer holidays to be free of human trafficking and forced child labour. An abused child is not only simply abused; he/she is denied the right to happiness and is robbed of all dignity.

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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 20- May 26

Stats this week: 13 posts by 12 writers

Pieces of Me: Gay in the Rio Grand Valley- by JamesMLee

Inside this post:

I knew from a very early age I was gay. When I entered elementary, things became very clear to me. I wanted to hold other boys’ hands, I would give them flowers instead of punches, something felt different. At first, I think some adults were amused by this, although as time went on, I noticed a change in their reactions toward me, it was then I first realized I couldn’t "behave" that way.

“Toning It Down” Isn’t A Solution- by Amplify_Staff

Inside this post:

Ten reports of bullying, a group assault on one young person, and the result is that young person is expelled. No penalties for the bullies – they ran off while school police arrested Darnell.

Media Justice and Privacy? May It Exist?- by Media_Justice

Inside this post:

Women of Color’s bodies are always on display in various ways. The messages this sends is that folks have the right and privilege to speak on, examine, watch, and follow us. We are socialized into thinking this is okay because it is “normal” to do without really examining what it does to women and girls of Color. And when we speak on and up about our privacy, about this hyper-visibility and display we are not taken seriously, ignored, erased, and targeted for other forms of violence (i.e. name calling, defamation, threats, intimidation, and physical violence).

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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My post this week: Abstinence-Only Programs and Rape Culture: A Cartoon

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When i got the opportunity to join the Broward county youth council I was a little nervous because sex is such a taboo topic when it comes to youth. However i did feel a duty to advocate for comprehensive sexual education for our youth here in broward county florida. The trainings were amazing thatb why i have to shout out two great organizations to whom this wouldnt be possible. thoses organizations are Advocates for youth and Planned Parenthood of South florida of the treasure coast. Thank you all for the very informative trainings that i will keep forever. Also the young people in this council who gave great lectures at our meetings who rallied and just are amazing individual who’ve I enjoyed spending time with thanks cant wait for the rest of my journey with the Broward County Youth Council. LOVE, LIVE, LIFE :)

Categories: Uncategorized
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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.

You can contact Governor Martinez through her website, or at 505-476-2200. There is also a petition up at Change.org asking for Erin Bouquin to be reinstated.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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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.

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1) I’ve been reading books about body image; learning about how social, cultural, and historical influences have subtly (and explicitly) demanded that bodies look a certain way. I cannot ignore the world around me and the messages I receive from it, but I believe that I should be the one who decides when my body looks good and what I do to feel good about the way I look.

2) More and more, I’m noticing how certain people in my life are effected by a number on the scale. Whether it’s over-exercising, under-eating, or fretting about they way they look in outfits, it hurts me to see people I care about manipulating their bodies (and risking their health) to feel like they “fit” a certain mold. This especially bothers me because it seems as if they have no control over what that mold looks or feels like, yet they strive to become it.

3) Girls today physically develop earlier than they did 100 years ago. This change, largely due to better nutrition, means that at a younger age, girls start to compare their changing bodies to their peers. As advertising and pop culture media have increasingly focused on these younger girls, the image of a developed 11 year old starts to look more like a developed 17 year old. Although their bodies do start to mature earlier, the difference between an 11 year old body and a 17 year old body is not just physical. When the mental and sexual maturity of older teens is superimposed onto grade-school girls, it seems they are purposely set up to feel dissatisfied with their bodies. I don’t want to reinforce this message.

4) I don’t want a number on the scale to determine how I feel about my body. I want the opportunity to feel good about how I look based on how I look, rather than a number. If I look in the mirror and think “Yes, I like this!,” only to have that feeling diminished by stepping on the scale and seeing a number 10 or 20 pounds above what I’d prefer it to be, my body image is no longer based on the image of my body. I think I darn well deserve to use my own eyes to look at my body and decide for myself how I feel about what I see. It’s about rejecting a number chock-full of socially imposed meaning and judgment, and instead looking at my body as it is and appreciating the way it looks.

What is your relationship with the scale like? Do you feel pressured to constantly know how much you weigh? Do you think more about the number itself than what the number means? Who decides what it means or if it matters?

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Children are socialized into male and female behaviors and sexual identities from infancy, primarily through processes of growth and development, and socialized through imitation, acculturation, enculturation, diffusion, education, and reward and punishment within the family unit. Socialization is the complex whole process of learning knowledge, skill and standards of judgments. Coping with new feelings of romantic attraction and/or sexual arousal, young adolescents are expected to learn a complex set of gendered social rules about how they should look, think and behave and what forms of social and physical intimacy are encouraged, tolerated or forbidden – and with whom. Much is at stake: social acceptance and even admiration on the one hand; mockery, rejection or abuse on the other.
Sexual norms and socialization process is believed to be built upon following stages:Oral stage: 0-1.5 yrs ( primary identification)
• Anal stage: 1.5 yrs – 4 yrs
• Latency stage: 4 yrs – 12 yrs (attraction toward opposite sex – Oedipus complex: attraction of son toward mother and Electra complex: attraction of daughter toward father).
• Puberty stage: 12 yrs -15 yrs (physical and mental growth)
• Adolescence stage: 16 yrs – 25 yrs ( usually get marriage)
• Adulthood stage: Matured and takes social responsibilities
• Old stage: retired life and attracted toward religious activities.

The expanding horizons of young adolescents are filled with explicit and implicit messages about sex and gender – some clear and consistent, some ambiguous or conflicting. Access to magazines, movies, TV, world music, and the Internet opens doors to an increasingly globalized and sexualized youth culture that permeates what may already be a confusing milieu of expectations and ideologies. The sex–gender rules are also played out in boys’ and girls’ partners and motives for sexual initiation. Apart from the forced or unwanted sexual initiation of young girls in arranged marriages or non-marital situations.
Findings, based on gender norms and socialization, are:
• Girls are more likely than boys to say they were motivated to have sex by love, a desire to “deepen the relationship”, a sense of obligation to the boy, or (in some settings) by promises of gifts or money (mostly from older boys or men), whereas boys more often mention curiosity, physical gratification, or “friends are doing it” as their primary motive.
• A girl’s first partner is more likely to be a boyfriend or someone she hopes to marry, whereas boys’ first partners are more often friends, acquaintances,
• Girls are more likely than boys to report pressures from parents and peers to abstain from sex and to mention moral concerns and/or fear of pregnancy or STIs as motivations for postponing sexual initiation, while boys are often encouraged by peers or male relatives (including fathers) to have sex to prove their “manhood”.
• Sexually active boys typically have intercourse more frequently than sexually active unmarried girls do, and are more likely to have more than one partner.

Right from these findings, we can say that: our society is still in the faith of cultural misguidance and conservative traditions. Though, the progress in women’s reproductive health can be assessed, but still rural people are suffering the supernatural beliefs about sex and sexuality. Preferences to son and sexual boundaries in the freedom of girls are rampant in development parts of Nepal. Hence, being a social animal, human have to overcome these social norms and the socialization process should be understood based on change in knowledge, attitude and practices of adolescent.

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There is perfect saying that, “Youth are the pillar of nation”. In Nepal great changes seemed to be begin at youth. History talks about the 10 years long war between Maoist and Government of Nepal. It was disclosed that Maoist had used most of children and youths in that war of soverigeinity. Always there been a story about youth involving in bad activities from the nation. Whether, it is through making youth political groups or through inviting youths at road. Dirty politics and leaders of different political parties has fostered youth as fighting body. The wrong use of youths in political issues is the back bone for never changing old mind and no hopes for youth. Even from my eyes, I feel there are no more hopes for youth expectations; we act between the boundaries of theoretical western education and our practical conservative thoughts. In these scenarios youth are compiled to act at road and processing gang fights and strikes in the name of political belongingness. I have seen two types of youth in Nepal, one: acting directly below the political institute and wrongly used, another: working for wider mind under/for social welfare and social development.

Youth acting through hunger strike at Dhangadhi, Nepal

Youth  during 32 days strike at Dhangadhi, Nepal

Whatever be these issues, the reason for this is underlying selfishness, narrow thoughts, short-term needs, political power, poverty, illiteracy, lack of decision capacity, and other skills. This is due to political intention to combat protest through youth power that youth under specific politics are with weapon. During the long JANA AANDOLAN and AAKHANDA SUDUR PASHCHHIM, youth have been used for war and creating social destruction at all the time. During evening youth were energizes with alcoholic drinks. This has made the system of being utilized to upcoming off springs. Youths with guns and knife has rally rocked the strike. Thus made culture has repelled to those who want to contribute for the society. I had tried to do a peace rally against strike, which calls youth to know their power and know their existence, but we were much less in that culture of strike. I don’t know what is there in politics that can collect huge mass even in bad issues, but the reality is we were able to continue anti-strike rally only for 4 days. I believe youth has different capacities for innovation, invention and discovery. Always there are good and bad aspects of each thing. Youth in Nepal are suffering the same. In the past, during 2063 B.S. more than 500 youths per day were found going foreign for job. Later, this has risen to 1500 per day; this is all due to political strike in the name of killing, rights and selfishness behaviors. One days strike can leads to decrease in billions of Nepalese economy, but the culture of strike is thought to be the easiest way of yielding pressure to get addressed the raised issues. However, the existing scenario of Nepal is all due to optimistic vision of well-minded youths; since nation needs to stand on youth.
JAI YUWAA…

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It all started in the morning On Friday the 19th of May, aliyu and myself went to the national assembly for a lobbying meeting to meet with the committee chairman on HIV/AIDS of house of representative Hon. Joseph Kigbu we were welcomed and we thanked him for given us the chance to meet him even though my heart was about taking a stroll out of my chest but his first statement really relieved me that he was happy when he saw our letter that some group of young people are interested about the antistigma bill apart from the national bodies on HIV/AIDS. He also mentioned the DG of NACA that came to his office earlier to discuss with him about the Bill and other issues.
He then brought the bill out and explained to us how he has managed to reintroduced to the house and also the processes he will have to take to make it fast before the final lobbying to the president to sign the bill into law which he said will take 2 years.
He also promised to represent the bill in two weeks so as to convencie his fellow Honorable to agree with him so that it can be send to the committee of whole so that they can pass it before the end of the year, but that he can’t promise of making all the necessary Inputs until when it has been made as act of parliament then we can start making amendment”
It was a great experience even though it was like a dream to us after several letters we ve sent to him for a lobby visit.
He then closed the meeting with a keynote that he will love to work with us in the aspect of the bill and also other issues pertaining to young people’s health that we should please don’t hesitate to contact me at anytime by text.

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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Children’s Day, Nigeria. Another 27th Day in the month of May has approached and children (but not all parents) are overjoyed when it approaches. No school. What could be better than finally getting a break from that laborous mathematics class; or from that economics teacher who bores us to sleep? 

Joy wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t for pain, neither would education feel so relevant, if one hasn’t experienced the bitter taste of ignorance. Sadly, that’s what 10 million Nigerian children are going through – or more likely, not.


According to Vanguard, a Nigerian daily newspaper

Over 40 per cent of them [Nigerian children] will celebrate on the street; without access to basic education as economic and socio-cultural factors keep over 10.1 million of the 35.6 million children aged between six and 14, out of schools.

Apparently, of a total of  24,662,087 children, 7,298,817 were not receiving formal education in the country three years ago. Also, 200,630 and 168,795 of the total boys and girls respectively, dropped out of school.

The factors that kept the children out of schools were grouped into economic, socio-cultural and supply side barriers and bottlenecks. Government and political influence, especially in the capacity of government to implement education policies as well as politicisation of basic education, equally affected the magnitude of the problem.

Listing poverty, cultural and religious barriers in the north, poor quality of education leading to dissatisfaction from parents, and opportunity cost as parents would rather have their children make extra money through hawking. And the recent reduction of university entrance cut off marks by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to 180 over a total score of 400 for universities and 160 for polytechnic entrants, the state of the Nigerian education sector screams for help.

The sad thing is, people are happy! The educational system of an entire nation can’t seem to lay solid foundations for it’s people and gives them leeway to get accepted into universities without bothering to develop and chanllenge these young, vibrant minds. 


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 While many women take birth control for a variety of reasons. Some use it for help with PMS, some to make their periods regular, but many use it for the shear purpose of preventing pregnancy. There are so many options for birth control; methods that require daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly attention. I recently read an article in the Sun Sentinel  that says recent medical studies show that IUDs (intrauterine devices) and Implants are more effective than the more common birth control pills, patches, shots, rings, and condoms. According to the article “the risk of unintended pregnancy was almost 22% higher.”

The article linked to Planned Parenthoods website  which provided a great overview of the different methods. IUDs and Implants are so easy! You get them put in by a doctor, and you don’t have to worry about them for 3-5 years. The best thing about them is that you don’t have to do anything. There is no chance you can forget something and put yourself at risk for getting pregnant.

This leads me to wonder, why aren’t young women being taught more about these methods? If I weren’t involved in the Broward County Youth Council  I don’t think I would know even know these methods existed. Long term birth control just makes sense for young women in high school and college, I mean how many girls in school plan on getting pregnant before graduating.

One major thing that shocked me though, was the cost. The long term methods can cost hundreds of dollars up front. That makes these methods complete out of most young women’s price range. Paying a little each month for pills is easier, but puts us at unnecessary risk of pregnancy. Not only should we be finding a way to inform more young women about these options, there should be a way to make them affordable!

Categories: Uncategorized
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If you feel like you’ve heard this message before, it was probably part of an abstinence-only program. These inaccurate, misleading programs use shame, intimidation, and fear to try to convince young people that sex, sexuality, and sensuality are dangerous. Similar to the cultural messages that tell women not to get raped instead of telling men not to rape, these messages rely on the belief that male sexuality is so strong and inevitable that it is out of their control and that female sexuality, which is not as essential, needs to be guarded. Further, these beliefs assume that there are certain rules of conduct that women must adhere to in order to protect themselves from unrestrained, male sexual aggression; rules that if they don’t follow to a tee, others could socially and legally presume that they got what they “wanted” or “asked for.”

In the cartoon, a baby says a word they don’t really understand and dances to a song by wiggling her butt. And the mother’s right- it’s adorable. In the third frame, the mother gives her teenage daughter a short skirt. By this age, the daughter obviously feels comfortable with her body, evidenced by her short top and shorts. In a culture that constantly tells girls that they should feel bad about their bodies, however they look and however healthy they are, it’s actually a good sign that this teen appears to enjoy her body the way it is and seems to have no shame in it. Brava.

The fourth frame, showing an unintended pregnancy- judging by her bowed head, lowered eyes, and frown- curiously depicts the mother brought to her knees in tears, asking, “Where did I go wrong?” I say curiously because the only clues we are given about their mother/daughter interaction involve a cute baby or toddler and a teenager receiving a short skirt. None of these have anything to do with an unplanned pregnancy.

Unless of course you believe what you were taught in an abstinence-only program.

The fourth frame implies that women who swear, shake their butts when they dance, and wear short clothing are in some way responsible for becoming impregnated because of these things. If you believe this, you must also believe that girls who don’t swear, don’t move while dancing, and don’t show “too much” of their skin would have somehow avoided this. The “logic” in this way of thinking depends on the belief that the difference between sex leading to pregnancy and no sexual activity is what the girl or woman is wearing and how she acts.

This line of thinking completely ignores and rejects the actions that actually have an impact on sexual activity and pregnancy. First, I have to question why all the “blame” is put on the mother. She’s not the one experiencing an unintended pregnancy. This is not at all to say that the daughter should be “blamed,” but that blaming the mother assumes that her daughter was incapable of controlling her sexual desires and urges and unable to use some form of contraception. Why is there this assumption? I believe it has to do with the irrational fear that many adults (particularly parents) have that teen sexuality is uncontrollable and inherently dangerous. The cartoon assumes that because her mother let her swear, dance, and wear short skirts, what else could have possibly happened but an unintended pregnancy? It assumes that the daughter is a mindless being who doesn’t know how to make her own decisions about her body and her sexuality. If mothers want to help their daughters avoid unintended pregnancy, they first have to realize and respect that their daughters are capable of making personal, sexual choices.

Second, there is no mention whatsoever in the cartoon of any form of sexual education. A medically accurate, fact-based, comprehensive sexual education would provide this teenager with all the information, tools, skills, and confidence to make informed decisions about her sexual expression and activity. These fact-based classes, which rely on science and reality rather than myths and assumptions, have been proven to be more effective at reducing incidences of unintended pregnancy. Studies of abstinence-only programs, on the other hand, have repeatedly proven their short-comings and failures.

In the cartoon, the mother asks herself, “Where did I go wrong?” The answer is certainly not in short skirts. What she should be asking herself is: Why didn’t we talk about sex? Why wasn’t I sure that she was using a reliable method of birth control? Why didn’t she know about the morning-after pill? Why did she feel that being sexually active was so taboo that she couldn’t talk to me about it?

Swearing, dancing, and short skirts do not cause pregnancy. Things that actually lead to unintended pregnancies include not having: knowledge of how pregnancy happens, information on how various methods of contraception work to prevent pregnancy, skills in talking about relationship dynamics, free and safe access to birth control, and a safe, respectful environment in which enthusiastic consent is continually asked for and given.

The mother in the cartoon ignores and rejects all of these things. This is dangerous because it perpetuates the myths that young women must protect themselves from men by strictly following someone else’s sexist rules. Worse, while these rules portend to give a woman control and power, they end up taking power away from her by insinuating that even if she had factual knowledge of pregnancy and birth control, her choice to wear a short skirt matters more. That regardless of what she knows, it’s how others choose to, and are culturally taught to, react to what she’s wearing that makes the difference. Basically, she either follows her own rules and gets raped, or she gives up her rights to decide for herself and hopes to not get raped regardless.

I’d rather choose what to do with my own body and expect that the men around me are not brutish animals, but rather respectful human beings who understand that my voice matters more than my skirt.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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by Bianca Laureano

What does it mean to you to have privacy? Is it that your medical provider, if you have access to one, will not share your information with your community? That your parents and family members don’t go searching through your things? That your partner will not look through your emails or cell phone when you are not around? Do these ideas of privacy change when you are online? Are your ideas of privacy different when it comes to celebrities?

For the past 2 weeks there has been a focus on outing two well known Black women: Queen Latifah and Raven-Symoné. l I may be “preaching to the choir” when I remind folks that it is never ever our or someone else’s place to out someone. Outing someone is taking that person’s self-determination away. It is putting the belief and value system one person has onto another who may not hold the same values. I know a lot of research and individual testimonios tells us that folks who come “out” regarding sexual orientation, gender, HIV and STI status, relationship or parenting status, etc. experience a form of liberation. We also have a host of quotes about how our silence “will not protect us” and many folks connect this to outing others or shaming others to come out when they are not ready.

Liberation may be connected to speaking out for some and it may not be for others. Speaking out is not something we can define for other people. It is something we may define for ourselves and act and move in the world accordingly. Many folks have different ideas about what liberation means, looks, and feels like and some may disagree. There are times when safety and self-determination must take priority. If we are about ending oppressions for all people, creating a community and world where we realize our diversity (for lack of a better word) is a strength and not a weakness, than we must also recognize the forms of oppression we create and are a part of and how removing privacy is one of those things.

Women of Color’s bodies are always on display in various ways. The messages this sends is that folks have the right and privilege to speak on, examine, watch, and follow us. We are socialized into thinking this is okay because it is “normal” to do without really examining what it does to women and girls of Color. And when we speak on and up about our privacy, about this hyper-visibility and display we are not taken seriously, ignored, erased, and targeted for other forms of violence (i.e. name calling, defamation, threats, intimidation, and physical violence).

This is not the first post about these topics,  and if you do an internet search for privacy and women of Color you’ll find a lot of information about the privacy policies of websites centering, created by, and featuring women of Color. It seems the term “privacy” is not used for women of Color or by us to describe the ways we create boundaries for our own lives. This is telling.

I think the use of language is shifting in more ways than we realize.  If we cannot use the term “privacy” for our own lives, we use other terms, such as boundaries. This term is just one example and I’m sure there are plenty of others. Yet, the effort made to find new terms and apply to our lives tells us that our lives are ones that were always already public; meaning people had a right to comment on and critique us.

Living in “the future” as we called it two decades ago, where the internet is more than many had imagined, this idea of privacy is also changing. Is it possible to use social media, build community, and still remain to some extent private? Many folks know this may be possible using a pseudonym. For many of us, using a pseudonym is connected to our survival and ability to maintain community online and still maintain a level of privacy. It is a privilege to have our legal names attached to certain things we create and that are available online. I know all too well what it is like when folks target you and threaten your life and well being because of who you are and what you have created in a virtual space.

I’ve shared online before that I think working poor and working class people rarely have privacy in our society mainly because our society has been set up that way. When I first went to apply for unemployment 7 years ago, the long lines to wait in, the forms to fill out and the “talks” we were given were all in an open room with several other people packed into. It was the same situation when I applied for public assistance and food stamps. You had to bring in all the documentation you could to prove you were the right kind of poor (I wasn’t), stand in line, sit in crowded rooms, then when you spoke to someone to process your information it was in a room of cubicles where I could hear the testimonio of the older man behind me and that of the woman in the cubicle in front of me. I’m sure they heard more than they wanted to hear about me too.

I remember the time I went for an HIV test 5 years ago and chose anonymous testing at the nearby Department of Health. I had not ever done testing anonymously before and wanted to see how it was so I could have the knowledge to share with folks who I work with in HIV education and prevention. I was given a number and when called asked for demographic information (i.e. race, age, gender). When I was ready to have my sample taken by a medical provider the first thing the provider asks me is “what is your name” and I had to tell them that I was choosing to be testing anonymously. When the doctor came in (not sure why I had two different medical providers for such a quick test) they asked me why I chose to be tested anonymously, that I should know that I can’t be denied health insurance if that was a concern (in NYC). I shared that I didn’t have health insurance and reminded the doctor that it was my choice to take the test anonymously and that’s the best decision for me at this time.

Having to defend and remind folks that my privacy is my own was non-stop the entire time. Then hearing from folks that “if you write about your experiences online you are not being private.” They may also use those three stories as examples. How interesting that they think I can’t pick and chose what parts of my life to share. That making a choice to share parts of my life is part of the privacy and boundaries I value, and also part of the privilege I have and chose to use in a strategic way. Many of the personal stories I choose to share are connected to a larger form of conciousness-raising that I value. It’s also one way that I’ve learned to connect with others, help folks know they are not alone in certain experiences, and build community and find spaces for healing. You see when I share parts of my private life it is a choice I am making. It is my self-determination, my agency that I am using. When I chose not to share something that’s the same exercise of self-determination.

I hope that youth and folks online today recognize that they too have privacy and boundaries and they are to be respected. Perhaps privacy for you is having your Twitter or Facebook account locked, maybe it’s writing under a pseudonym, or having two different accounts for the different work you do. Whatever the choice your privacy and boundaries are your own, no one else’s. This is what we can also extend to the celebrities and famous folks in this world, especially those who are women of Color.

I encourage folks to look up and research Net Neutrality and all of the changes that are currently underway.  Understanding Net Neutrality is a part of our privacy, boundaries, safety and access online.

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Finally the long awaited varsity games for students in Cameroon are here. It is the 15th edition hosted by the University of Buea, Cameroon. Getting into the city of Buea it is impossible not to notice the increase in population and the fact that _ of this population is made up of young people. Also, just as business people use this as an opportunity to increase the sale of their goods and services, concerned individuals and young people use this opportunity to save humanity in every way they could think of. Free HIV/AIDS screening is organized. With a stand placed directly in front of the University entrance and the voices of people behind high quality microphones not forgetting young people who moved from one person to another getting into campus inviting them to do their HIV/AIDS screening for just no cost it was just unavoidable. Interestingly, the free HIV/AIDS screening which had been put together by Big steps Outreach network (BONET), in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education, Junior Chamber International(JCI)AISEC, University of Buea Health Club, just to name a few was not a bad thought after all. The free screening which took place from the 9th to the 12th of May register that 1021 young people were tested. Worthy of note is the fact that these young people were not forced to do the HIV/AIDS screening but did it out of their own volition which shows a way forward toward the encouragement of young people to know their status. Even young people who didn’t take the free screening were happy to be drilled on destigmatising condom purchase and usage as well as they received freely distributed condoms

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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When i was old enough to know what abortion is i became really (and i still am) intrigued as to why people in Jamaica would not support it.  

An abortion is when the pregnancy is ended so that it does not result in the birth of a child. Sometimes this is called ‘termination of pregnancy’.
The pregnancy is removed from the womb, either by taking pills (medical abortion) which involves taking medicines to cause a miscarriage or by surgery (surgical abortion) where the pregnancy is removed from the womb.

After stumbling on a news article from the Jamaica Observer dated May 3, 2010 i decided should blog about this issue. I always wondered why Jamaicans spoke out and condemed people who are in support of the act. 

The article was about a 10-year-old girl was granted an abortion in Brazil after she was repeatedly raped by her 44-year-old stepfather who eventually impregnated her. Abortion is illegal in that country except where the woman has been sexually abused, is extremely ill or if the foetus is deformed.
In Jamaica, legislators are still contemplating with whether to legalise abortion, which is currently not authorised under law, although it is widely carried out. On one hand pro-lifers argue that abortion is murder, while pro-choicers believe that a woman ought to have a say in what happens to her body.

I personally believe that abortion should be legalised based on the following terms and conditions:
-abortion for the sake of the mother’s health
   including her mental health.

-abortion where a pregnancy is the result of a crime
  such as crimes like rape, incest, or child abuse.

-abortion where the child of the pregnancy would have an ‘ unacceptable quality of life’ such     as cases where the child would have
  serious physical handicaps,
  serious genetic problems,
  serious mental defects

-abortion for social reasons, including:
  poverty,
  mother unable to cope with a child (or another child),
  mother being too young to cope with a child

I am in support of Jamaica taking the leap and taking and implementing  the step to becoming a more liberal society in supporting abortions based on the circumstances i.e. how the pregnancy happened and the conditions that the child would be born into.


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A young gay man is constantly and violently bullied by his classmates.

He asks his school administration for help.

They say he needs to “tone down” his flamboyant behavior, and stop wearing girls’ clothes.

We saw this story in California in 2008, when Lawrence King was ultimately murdered by a classmate who had been tormenting him for months. School officials, defense attorneys, and commentators all maintained that Lawrence shouldn’t have worn high heels and lipstick – that his outrageous get-ups enraged his murderer. That he, Lawrence, held the responsibility to prevent his murder – not the boy who murdered him, or the school that failed to protect him, or the culture that made him a target. Apparently, Lawrence should have "toned it down."

In Indianapolis this month, we’re seeing another young victim of bullying: Darnell “Dynasty” Young.

Darnell is 17 and openly gay. He was frequently bullied by classmates – they hounded him, harassed him, followed him, threw rocks and bottles at him.

He told school officials at least ten times.

They told him to “tone it down.”

So, Darnell Young’s mother gave him a stun gun.

And, the next time he was cornered by six violent students, he brandished it.

The result? Arsenal Tech High School suddenly located its zero tolerance policy and expelled Darnell.

Ten reports of bullying, a group assault on one young person, and the result is that young person is expelled. No penalties for the bullies – they ran off while school police arrested Darnell.

Sure, pretty much no one thinks stun guns should go in kids’ backpacks. Many, even most may agree with Darnell’s expulsion, and the school district is certainly sticking by it. No student should bring a weapon to school.

But – and this is the critical point that keeps getting overlooked – no student should ever feel they have to bring a weapon to school to prevent being assaulted.

Beyond their lack of responsiveness to reports of bullying, the school’s behavior is also in violation of Title IX. A 2010 letter from the Department of Education specifically stated that bullying a student who is perceived as acting outside traditional gender expectations is against the law. In fact, a school that doesn’t take specific actions to combat such bullying is also in violation of the law: The Department of Education’s own letter highlights a case not dissimilar to Darnell’s and how it must, by law, be handled. It notes: “In this example, the school had an obligation to take immediate and effective action to eliminate the hostile environment. By responding to individual incidents of misconduct on an ad hoc basis only, the school failed to confront and prevent a hostile environment from continuing.”

Nowhere does the law state that the student first has a responsibly to “tone it down" and magically prevent their own bullying.

Indianapolis school officials say they have an anti-bullying policy – and they claim to take bullying seriously. That may be true, though the state does seem to be having some problems. What they lack is a law that specifically protects LGBT students. Anti-bullying laws with specific language barring bullying on the basis of gender expression and/or sexual orientation better protect LGBT students by creating a culture that rejects homophobia and creates safe spaces.

We must also remember: culture matters too. While legal actions can and should be taken, it’s a change in culture that is really needed. A homophobic culture is why LGB students are four times as likely as heterosexual students to feel unsafe at school and five times as likely to have been in a fight. It’s what makes it OK for students to hound a gay teen through the streets and what leads to grown adults also attacking that teen. It’s what makes it so repulsive, so unacceptable, for a boy to wear lipstick and heels that he ends up dead.

And, pervasive homophobia is what makes people say a victim of anti-gay violence should just “tone it down.”

The story shouldn’t end with Darnell’s expulsion — that is why we are calling on Congress to finally get serious about preventing bullying and pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

LGBT young people have no responsibility or imperative to “tone down” their gender expression or hide their sexual orientation. We have the responsibility to protect these youth in schools and to teach students the value of accepting and valuing all people.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to help stop bullying around the country.

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In Nigeria, LGBT youth have been in the low, though they have a presence but not dominant. In fact, quite a number of young people are beginning to identify more as either lesbian or gay and its becoming more acceptable within the youth population than with the older people. Even though the majority of the Nigerian society frowns against it, particularly older people due to cultural and religious beliefs, that hasn’t really changed how people express their sexuality.

However, it is actually difficult for young people to freely express themselves publicly due to fear of being stigmatized or treated as an outcast. Most people actually think that it is an abnormality for any human being to identify as LGBT

Individual sexual orientation/identity isn’t a prerequisite for getting an education in Nigeria except maybe in the grassroots where both young and old have little or no information about LGBT issues and youth reproductive rights. Since LGBT orientation or identity is more or less like an abomination, it will be impossible for young people who are openly LGBT to get education and RH services.

On the contrary, getting quality education in the urban area is dependent on one’s social economic status and class. So, if I belong to the LGBT community and am wealthy or my parents are either wealthy or powerful, that makes me untouchable and qualified to get any kind of education or reproductive health services that I may need. Unfortunately, the majority of the population in Nigeria is poor people so in reality only very few can have access to quality education.

I believe there is a need to begin to educate the masses and leaders because the concept of LGBT is not properly understood. There are misconstrued perceptions about LGBT and since Nigeria is a strong religious and culturally driven nation, it makes it harder to protect the rights of LGBT. Considering also the poor quality of leadership in this nation, a lot of other foundational structures that have been put in place do not yet have the capacity to maintain order and justice, which makes it even more difficult to actually get policies or programs in place to protect LGBT.

Young people can be agents of change by talking more about LGBTs especially within the family unit and at the grassroots. It is important to emphasize that LGBT are human beings like every other person who have the potential and ability to be creative, innovative and successful. Being LGBT doesn’t make anyone less of a human.

For my religious and culturally dogmatic folks out there who feel being LGBT is the worse sin or worse immoral behavior, I have a couple of questions for you. Who are you to judge? If any is perfect among you, let him be the first to cast the stone?   

Why should anyone think just because they are straight, they are better than LGBT?

Guess what, we are all equal. We all have the rights to be who we want to be.
The world is a global village and we are all one big family. Let us stop the hate.

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South Carolina is making great strides and progress to reduce teen pregnancy. The South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy recently embarked on the 4th Annual Road Show to help encourage teens to prevent pregnancy. Over the past decades, the pregnancy rates of South Carolina has declined by 26%, but South Carolina still ranks at 12th in the nation for teen births. Organizations are continuing their efforts throughout communities to reduce the statistics. During the annual Road Show, the SC Campaign planned to visit at least 23 counties and hold nearly 60 events.

In an effort to decrease the numbers, the Center for Disease Control awarded the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy a $1.5 million dollar grant for community organizations and other non-profit agencies to focus on awareness programs. The grant is available to promote abstinence for those who are not sexually active, and make contraception and protection available for teens who choose to be sexually active so that they practice safe sex. The SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy will also work with participating school districts to provide overall training on reproductive health and curriculum specific information to teachers.

Get involved and find ways to promote safe sex in your communities, and always remember that SAFE SEX IS THE BEST SEX!!

For source information check out news articles SC Organization Works to Lower Number of Teen Pregnancies and Teen pregnancy prevention campaign tours South Carolina.

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 I recently did a video for a program/ org. called "Cuidate" that is directed towards latinos. I invited some friends to do the video and learn more about HIV/AIDS. I loved that the actual training included spanish in it, as well was cultural values that we have as latinos. We rarely speak of what we’re proud of when it comes to our culture.

The whole thing was so cool because we connected how our culture affects the decisions we make. I didn’t really like however, that we didn’t touch on LGBT issues within the latino culture. It’s a very very big deal because not many latinos or latina moms or dads accept gay lesbian bisexual, or trans. child. It ties in with religion, cultural values, and definetely with the decisions we make when it comes to being sexually active.

I wish they could have worked on that. Cuidate such a great training, but i wish they could have at least mentioned LGBTQ issues in the latino/hispanic culture.

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Hey what do you think is going on there? Is it some kind of ritual or what do you think it is? Those were the words of some young people who could see candle lights sparkle in the form of something they really have never seen or imagined. These candle lights had been arranged to take the shape of the abstinence symbol. Amazing! After the display of these candles memorial speeches were made by some BONET members not forgetting members of some partner organizations who called on young people to change their mentality about people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS), hence reducing or eradicating stigmatization on their part. It was only then that some young people actually began to understand what the ‘Candle Light Memorial’ is all about. Just as the world celebrates the International candle light memorial day on the 20th of May each year so too have the members of Big steps outreach Network (BONET) Cameroon in collaboration with partners from Peace Revolution and Junior Chamber International (JCI) celebrated the candlelight memorial . The candle light memorial was celebrated on the 9th of May in prelude for the National candle light memorial to be celebrated on 27th may this year given that 20th of May is celebrated as the day of reunification in the history of Cameroon. This event was organized during this period with respect to the fact that the 15th edition of the varsity games was at this time hosted by the University of Buea and as such there were young people from all around the national territory present during this period in the town of Buea. This event took place at BONET premises where young people were called to light as many candles as possible for their loved ones whether dead or living with HIV/AIDS. Fliers which carried messages such as Light a candle to heal the life of a friend, relative, mate, family and partner were also shared to encourage young people on this commitment.

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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 Jamaica is known for being an extremely homophobic country, with records of homosexual men being beaten by mobs in public and communites and families chasing out gay men.
It was not until i was in a meeting where i realised that there is a great need for safe spaces for members of the LBGT community especially those in school.

what is a safe space?

A Safe Space is a welcoming, supportive and safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. Most LGBT students frequently hear anti-LGBT language and
experience harassment related to their sexual orientation and gender expression, and the majority of LGBT students feel unsafe at school and are likely to skip class or even full days of school to avoid the anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment they face on a daily basis. But educators can make a big difference! For many students, simply knowing that allies exist can be a source of support. Research shows that LGBT students with many supportive educators feel safer at school, skip fewer classes, and earn higher grades than students without supportive educators.

What is an Ally?

An ally is an individual who speaks out and stands up for a person or group that is targeted and discriminated against. An ally works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for people who are stigmatized, discriminated against or treated unfairly. For the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, an ally is any person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people. Allies have been involved in almost all movements for social change, and allies can make a significant contribution to the LGBT rights movement. It is important for allies to demonstrate that LGBT people are not alone as they work to improve school climate, and to take a stand in places where it might not be safe for LGBT people to be out or visible. Any educator, LGBT or non-LGBT, can be an ally to LGBT students. So be an ally and support your fellow country men.


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The Broward County Youth Council has been conducting two county wide surveys in order to better understand the sexual health education currently available in schools and the students’ perspective on the information they are receiving.

The School survey (which can be found here: http://bit.ly/HealthyTeensSchoolSurvey) focuses on middle and high schools, asking school administration to describe the current sexual health education programs. The Student survey (which can be found here: http://bit.ly/HealthyTeensYouthSurvey) asked students what sexual health education they have received and what information they felt they were lacking.

Be sure to check out our preliminary results! You can find them here: http://www.healthyteensflorida.org/get-involved-locally/broward-county-youth-council/broward-county-youth-council-0

Also, in case you missed it, the blog written by Council member, Danielle, is a must read. She details her experience collecting the surveys from her peers and why she believes this work is important. Check it out here: http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/u/blued538/2012/5/18/Broward-County-Youth-Council

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This semester was been AWESOMEEEEE. I got so much accomplished. I hosted numerous programs on the campus of the Great NC A&T State University. I talked about prevention and distributed condoms appropiate among the students. I actually took an idea from an RA at Fayetteville St and hosted a party. I got tons of people to show. We had a good time dancing and messing around then at 11. I cut the lights on and didnt let anyone out. We talked about how to prevent AIDS/HIV. We had a deep meeting, it got very emotional. I distributed the comdons among the students who attended and we started partying again. :)

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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Happy International Day Against Homophobia!

IDAHO has been celebrated worldwide, gathering the LGBT Community and Activists alike to condemn crimes perpetrated by people who are biphobic, homophobic, and transphobic and to highlight issues surrounding the LGBT community such as hate crimes and gay marriage. In the Philippines, this week was marked by the condemnation of the brutal killing of a gay person in Bacolod City, Philippines – the fourth victim of gay hate crimes in the city this year alone.

But what grab the headlines in both the Philippines and in the United States this week was the controversial statement made by boxing superstar and Philippine leglislator Congressman Manny Pacquiao of his open disapproval of gay marriage in an interview with the National Conservative Examiner wherein the issue of President Barack Obama’s recent showing of support on gay marriage was brought up.

As the report issues:

Pacquiao’s directive for Obama calls societies to fear God and not to promote sin, inclusive of same-sex marriage and cohabitation, notwithstanding what Leviticus 20:13 has been pointing all along: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

The consequence was immediate with The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles banning him in their premises where a scheduled interview with him and Mario Lopez for the latter’s T.V. program was originally planned. Public outcry and criticims has prompting him make amends by apologizing and at the same time clarifying how he was misquoted by writer Granville Ampong in an interview with L.A. Times.

Quoting his statement:

What I said is a reporter asked me about gay marriage…I am against gay marriage, but I’m not condemning gays. I have family—a cousin—who’s gay, and friends too. I’m just against gay marriage. I don’t even want to talk about the issue, but I was asked about it, so I gave my opinion.

Personally, I welcome the decision of The Grove shopping center in banning Manny Pacquiao in their premises on the grounds of his remarks against gay marriage. It sends out a message that homophobic remarks are not tolerated by companies with strong human rights convictions like The Grove even the one who said it is a boxing superstar like Manny. Even if Manny Pacquiao is a fellow Filipino and we have high regard for the link the binds us just like how we are proud of Jessica Sanchez going to American Idol’s finals (please please vote for her!), his actions are not acceptable. 

Well, I am not surprised if his opinions about gay marriage is against about it. Even in the Philippines he is one of the staunch oppositionist in the Philippine Congress for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. He even forbade his wife to use family planning method such as pills as it will be inconsistent with his stance RH Bill, a move which tramples the SRHR of his spouse Jinkee. But going back on gay marriage, it is sad to note that the debate on this issue has divided a country like the U.S. and has forced people to take sides, even famous athletes/celebrities like Pacquiao.

On the positive note, some athletes and celebrities like pound-for-pound boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and multi-awarded actress Lea Salonga are vocal for their support on gay marriage and LGBT rights. Mayweather who is the main contender against Pacquiao for the title as Pound-for-Pound King seems to have gain the upper hand on this fight as observed by Pop Culture Lead Blogger Gabe Zaldivar for Bleacher Report.

Known for her outstanding role as Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga won the Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World awards and has made a name for herself in the world of theater musical. But she is beyond her achievements as a professional theater actress. Lea Salonga championed causes that some celebrities especially in the Philippines don’t want to tackle on like the RH Bill and LGBT rights. By utilizing her celebrity status, she helped people take notice of this issues, talk about it, and make a stand.

Up until now, the words of President Barack Obama stating his support on gay marriage and his journey towards acceptance is still music to my ears. I believe its the first time that a sitting President of the United States of America has make a personal support for gay marriage and LGBT rights. But Mr. President, please TRANSLATE your words into CONCRETE ACTIONS. We are not contented with just words alone. We need you to ACT! Then we can say that CHANGE has finally come to America!

According to Gabe Zaldivar:

Take nine-year-old Josef Miles, who recently chose to stand lone in his support of gay marriage. Sometimes the youth have a knack for showing us the way. His mantra was simple, "God hates no one."

The times are changing for the better. The President of the United States gets it. I get it. Hell, even Floyd Mayweather Jr. gets it.

Shame on you if you don’t.

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 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>

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 On May 5th, i went to the 5 de Mayo festival in Downtown Denver, and whie i was there the first thing i saw was the "hispanos republicanos de Colorado" booth, which seemed like a paradox because I’m not even sure if they support the DREAM act, well anyway, they gave me a paper that i threw away. 

As i was walking, i saw the next booth: "Mitt Romney 2012". Men and women speaking on behalf of Mitt Romney at the 5 de Mayo festival. Last time i checked, he wants to secure our borders, doesn’t support the DREAM act, and anyone who is already undocumented and in the country deserves no "special" path to citzenship because of their illegal actions. 

Also, his stance on LGBT issues seem to flip-flop a lot. He’s not in support of gay marriage, but doesn’t support the discrimiation of the LGBT community. When i saw that booth, in between latinos with boots and traditional dresses, and gay men and women, i couldn’t help but laugh out loud. A gay couple held hands as they walked past the Mitt Romney booth, and the man at the table turned the other way. 

That whole experience was hilarous and contradictory. 

-Adrian. 

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Nepal is to stage Asia’s first ever multi-sport games for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,

The two-week event at the national football stadium and other venues around Kathmandu will feature Nepali participants in track and field, volleyball, football, martial arts and tennis, event has been organized by the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s leading gay rights group.

"Renowned and respected Nepali athletes will support as coaches and referees for the program," said organizer Sunil Pant, the country’s only openly gay MP said in a statement.

Asia already stages the "Asia-Pacific Outgames", another multi-sport gay event, but this has only been hosted by New Zealand and Australia. Nepal’s version which is due to take place in late September will be the first in Asia.

"The aims for organizing the Blue Diamond National Sport Competition 2012 are to mainstream LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) into the larger society, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage physical fitness, and promote health mentally and spiritually," said Pant.

Nepal is a conservative, Hindu country which nonetheless has some of the most progressive policies on homosexuality in Asia. A landmark 2007 court ruling ordered the government to enact laws guaranteeing the rights of gays.

Source: http://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org

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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 6- May 12

Stats this week: 19 blogs by 13 writers

My Love Letter to You on the Third Day of Motherhood- by Amplify_Staff

Inside this post:

Please don’t allow their way of doing things to influence how you define yourself as a mother. Please remember that motherhood is not defined by marital status, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Society (and in my experience other mothers and teachers) will lead you to believe differently. But motherhood is an equal opportunity that welcomes anyone with the desire to care for and love a child.

My Experience With Equality Forum-by Jordan

Inside this post:

Philadelphia’s Equality Forum is a yearly event happening at the end of April/early May each year in which various workshops are done, culminating in a Sunday social event at the Piazza in Northern Liberties. Due to other commitments, I was unable to attend most workshops, however, I was able to attend three on Saturday.

When Language Changes: Using the @ Symbol- by Media_Justice

Inside this post:

The @ symbol does just that by challenging a gender binary and dichotomy that has been implemented to privilege men, masculinity, and maleness especially in romance languages such as Spanish. It is also inclusive of our transgender and gender queer community who are often excluded and omitted on a regular basis.

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

—————————————–
My posts this week:
"The Woman of Today"- Reframing an Image
GOP Version of VAWA puts undocumented women in more danger of violence

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These are long acting reversible contraception methods that will protect against unintended pregnancies from 3 years up to 12 years.

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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.  

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by Bianca Laureano

Last year Hip Hop is for Lovers (HH4L) became a live broadcast online. Since then, the expansion and attention HH4L has received is phenomenal. This is expected as the two women who are the driving force, creative energy, and developers of the series are fantastic. I asked Uche and Lenée if I could feature them for the Media Maker’s Salon as their form of media is one that is so accessible! They agreed. I should share that Lenée and I are homegirls, chosen family and that I am a regular listener, tweeter, and fan of HH4L.

Uche and Lenée both identify as 30 something Black women from the US who are English speaking. Lenée identifies as a “queer working class, anti-academic and Spanglish speaking” Black woman and Uche as a “hetero” African American woman. Their identities are important because this impacts the media they create, conversations they have, and education they provide on HH4L.

What is HH4L? When and where did it begin?

Uche: Hiphopis4Lovers.com conception came from a conversation. First it was a microblog on tumblr and was almost a mixtape but now its a full on radio show and now
budding network. We discuss Love, Sex, intimacy and Hip Hop Music every
Wednesday 8pm-10pm and we have The XD Experience every Thursday
9pm-11pm.

What was the motivation for beginning HH4L? What are some goals you have for the project/program?

Uche: The Motivation for HH4L in the beginning was to create a space where people we could talk about sex and Hip Hop in a real adult way. To address the issues in intimacy and sex that the hip hop generations faces on a daily basis.

My ultimate goal would be to change the culture of how sexuality, sex and intimacy is viewed, and discussed in the culture of Hip Hop. To create a space for adults who still engage in the culture of Hip Hop to deal with issues facing them in their personal lives.

How did the two of you meet and what went into collaboration?

Lenée: We met via twitter, actually. I was out at a wine bar in Brooklyn and Uche recognized me from my twitter avatar. We’ve been hanging out ever since. Later, she approached me about taking her microblog series, Hip Hop is for Lovers, to another level by making it a podcast. In May of 2011, we switched the format to include live broadcasts.

Share with us the importance of the naming of your media. How is language important in the projects you create and are a part of?

Uche: With Hip Hop, one of the main identifiers of people engaged in the culture is language. There is a seeded vernacular that in Hip Hop is this always changing but remains universal to the listeners. In Hip Hop is 4 Lovers we are using that language, that semantic to talk about Sex and Love.

Lenée: Language plays a huge part! The radio show is reflective of and steeped in Hip Hop culture and language — the vernacular we utilize from the larger culture are a big part of the sound and tone of the show. Also, we have our own sayings that are part of the show’s fabric. For instance, Uche coined the term "No bueno on the non consensual anal," in response to the idea that one partner can surprise another with anal sex. We have HH4L quotables on virtually every episode. Also, we name every episode uniquely — usually something humorous — as a way of piquing the interest of potential listeners.

What themes do you seek to discuss/address/present and how are they received by audience?

Lenée: Our subject matter is based on love, sex, intimacy, and relationships. So, we talk about sex itself, sex work, dating, coparenting, child rearing, etc. We talk a lot about personal agency in relationships and sexual encounters, consent, and transparency. I believe what we talk about on the show is very well received by our audience. I do find that sometimes our shows about very juicy (and for some people controversial) topics sometimes get more realtime feedback on twitter.

Uche: We talk about everything sex/ intimacy related. Everything from parenting to the kinds of sex people are having. Addressing topics like Slut Shaming, Self Love, even Polyamory has struck chords with our audience. We also, always put emphasis on consent and full disclosure in intimacies between individuals. Our audience seems to be excited to have a space where the issues that concern them and (even some that don’t) are being discussed.

How are topics and songs selected? Is this an individual process? The two of you? audience suggestions? something else?

Uche: Its both the HH4L team and our audience. We discuss and brainstorm about our topics and even do research to make sure we are giving a full representation of any topic and not just our own personal ideals.

Lenée: The creation of our library was a collaborative effort — we both add to it regularly. We also take suggestions from our audience, and from artists themselves.

What role does race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and location play in the creation of HH4L?

Lenée: Hip Hop, as a culture and as a genre of music, belongs to People of Color (POC). It began in the Bronx, in a community of working and lower middle class black and brown folks and to this day is largely reflective of the lives and experiences, aspirations, goals, and sometimes the suffering of People of Color. Of course, there are white artists who make this music, and I find that the white artists whose work is best received both commercially and critically are people from working class and or poor communities, like Yelawolf. I think class plays a big part because early Hip Hop was self-made entertainment based on the experiences of black and brown youth. Though an abundance of Hip Hop music is driven by men who identify as hetero (or express heterosexual desires), there’s a lot music informed by what we might call alternative viewpoints. Hetero women, queer women, queer men, and trans people make hip hop — some of which is played on both the main HH4L show and the show on our network hosted by The XD Experience. Regarding location, we are NYC based. NYC is the birthplace of Hip Hop music and culture; this means that for a long time the epicenter of the culture was here — some argue that it still is. I think that the urban experience of working class and or poor People of Color is as integral a part of the music of Hip Hop as rhyming itself.

Uche: As a woman (especially a woman of color) who grew up in the culture of Hip Hop and has no fear being identified as such is a big deal. I have met a lot of women who have a love/hate relationship with Hip Hop. Dealing with issues of “where is my place?” is very real for a lot of POC women who grew up listening to a music that at first glance doesn’t seem to value them or acknowledge their place in the culture. I’m sure that goes for other “alternative”(probably not the right word) identified groups that ultimately identify with the culture of Hip Hop. The fact that the majority of the people involved with HH4L are POC women is a big deal as we tend to talk about what affects us more so than our non POC counterparts.

How has HH4L evolved? How would you like to see it evolve in the future? Are there goals for the year?

Uche: We went from being a podcast to a live weekly show. Now we are branching out to becoming a network by adding The XD experience and some other shows that will be announced soon. We have goals of always expanding the audience and growing as a team.

As media makers, what outlets/equipment/training/workshops/tools/etc. do you utilize to create?

UW: HH4L is broadcast right from my home. I did research on a lot of different broadcast sites style sites before settling on Spreaker.com. We also use lots of social media to get the word out about our broadcasts and the happenings of HH4L. I would say that social media is a major tool for us.

Lenée: I think it’s imperative that people who make media understand the intersections of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr) and traditional media (print/ radio/ video). It’s all linked now. Since Twitter is a big part of what we use to communicate and share our media, I think demonstrated ability to navigate and manage social media is as important as knowing how to update a website via platforms like WordPress. Also, it’s a good idea to learn about sites like podomatic, Spreaker, and Soundcloud.

What are some necessary texts, films, images, photography that you think are essential for youth, especially youth of Color, queer youth, and youth who are marginalized in general, to interact with/read/be exposed to? Why these artifacts?

Lenée: I think for young Women of Color — queer and hetero alike — to begin to actualize themselves, it is imperative that they know their experiences do not occur in a vacuum. I recommend Colonize This!,  and Borderlands/ La Frontera  for starters. I also suggest Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery  and Naked be read in tandem. It’s never too early to learn!

For marginalized youth in general, I think it’s important that they utilize the resources they have access to — be they libraries in the community or at school, or even the personal libraries of people they know and trust. When I was 15, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X,  because I thought it was necessary for me to learn exactly how he became an activist. Not everyone is born with a fist in the air — our kids need to know that. I also read Race Matters  by Cornel West (required reading by my school) and found the words I had been seeking all along to explain what I felt when my wealthy white schoolmates expressed not just racism or sexism, but classism in their interactions with me and one another.

Have there been any challenges/obstacles, etc. you’ve encountered in creating your media? Will you share some examples with us?

Uche: I would say that my greatest challenge in creating HH4L is that I didn’t know of anything that existed like it before. I had no guide to tell me how to create a site/radio show that wants to discuss Love, Sex and Hip Hop. Sure there are sites and radio shows that discuss sex and hip hop but not together. So I would say my biggest challenge has been creating this form of media that I didn’t know to exist prior to.

What support systems help you cope with frustration, challenges, obstacles, etc. as POC inclusive media makers?

Uche: I would say our biggest support system has been our growing audience. They have let us know we are doing something needed and wanted by them. That is what I know helps me face any challenges or obstacles I’ve faced.

Lenée: I’m not certain that we’ve faced too many frustrations or challenges as POC inclusive media makers, but I have noticed that sharing with people what I do as co-host and sometimes site contributor to the show can be met with puzzled faces. People really do seem to think that Hip Hop music is all about guns, hoes, drugs, and violence. They’re sometimes surprised… While others think that the music library couldn’t possibly be extensive, as the music within the genre that they like is very singularly minded.

What time management strategies/advice can you share with us about creating media and also finding time for yourself/family/friends?

Uche: There are times that I feel consumed by HH4L. I live it constantly so I make sure to have my down time to “check out.” Its essential for me to create a work/ life balance as it allows my creativity to recharge and grow.

Lenée: We make sure we’re fed and hydrated before the show starts. It’s imperative that we have sufficient nourishment and rest beforehand. HH4L Radio, though it requires a substantial time commitment for me, doesn’t keep me from having quality time with friends and/ or family. I believe Uche has different experiences, though, since she’s the site’s founder and primary content contributor.

Are there any upcoming events planned?

Lenée: With dates TBD, we have a group trip to the Museum of Sex in New York City, and another Lovers Joint!

How may people get in contact with you? listen to the show?

Uche: Tune in to the show on www.hiphopis4lovers.com. Also, find us on Twitter, Tumblr  and Facebook.  If they want to submit music they can do it through the contact section on the website and also sign up for our mailing list.

Lenée: I don’t know specifics, but we’ve got a good following on Facebook and Twitter. Also, the site we broadcast from shows us our stats including unique listeners to each broadcast and how many downloads we get. I’d estimate that we have just under a thousand folks listening to us, which is quite impressive to me considering that we’ve been doing the live shows for just under a year.

Are there any other topics/issues/etc. you’d like to discuss?

Lenée: Check hiphopisforlovers.com for announcements about upcoming events and to stream our latest shows.

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Today, it was brought to my attention that tomorrow, 17-May, is the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. Much like last year, I was very skeptical that the inclusion of Transphobia in the title would lead to anything real or substantial in the way of including the lived experiences of transgender people, and it seems that I was right to be skeptical. In searching the website, which is still at http://www.DayAgainstHomophobia.org/ despite the inclusion of transphobia in the mandate, I found very little in the way of information about transphobia or transgender people. Instead, I found that most of the time, the only inclusion of trans* experiences was when the website mentioned about sexual orientation and gender identity. Almost like it was just thrown on there to make sure that they are good with us trans* folks.

That being said, I did manage to find a section in the news section of the site to do with transphobia; However, even this section had major issues which made it completely impractical. The main issue that I had was that there were so few stories even on the page. In total, there were 4 unique stories, and some of these were over a year out of date. There was no mention of the events which happened to CeCe McDonald, there was no mention of the death of Lorena Escalera, there was no mention of the trans* movement’s success in Argentina, and there was no mention of the murders of trans women in DC.

This is a MAJOR problem, but it gets worse still.

I then went over to the section on the site which contains the press releases for the organization. Here I was shocked by what I saw, or more correctly, shocked as to what I didn’t see. On this page there were a number of different press releases; there was one about the death penalty, there was one about an event that happened in Malawi, and there was one about International Women’s Day. However, there wasn’t one about Transgender Day of Remembrance or any other trans* day or event of significance.

This, to me, was extremely distressing. This is because Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is an international day of remembrance on which, those trans* people who were killed for being trans* or gender non-conforming are remembered, and the transphobia that led to their death is highlighted and questioned. This places TDoR directly in alignment with the mandate of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and, as such, demands some acknowledgement by those in charge of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

However, I worry that things go a bit deeper than that. You see, TDoR is a day to remember murdered trans* people which was started and run by trans* people. So, to not include this important date in the trans* agenda, those who are in charge of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia are not only showing that they are out of touch with other movements with similar goals, but also that they are out of touch with the trans* communities entirely.

So, while I do not advocate a boycott of tomorrow’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, I do ask you, the reader, for just a couple of things.

The first, and most important, is for you to take a moment to think about both Transphobia and Homophobia. In doing this, I hope that you come to the realization that both of these prejudices are aberrant, and both must be challenged at every opportunity no matter the day of the year or the way that the prejudice appears.

And the second is for you to speak up and make it clear to those in charge of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia that, in order to effectively challenge these prejudices (and meet their own mandate), they must take notice other events, and work with other organizations, that have similar or overlapping mandates.

Morwen

P.S. You may have noticed that I didn’t shorten International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to the acronym which appears in the banner above. This was done deliberately because the acronym IDAHO seems to lose something important from the main title; Namely, the focus on transphobia.

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When is abortion permissible?

1) Never
2) Rape
3) Incest
4) Danger to woman’s life or health
5) Birth Defect
6) Poverty
7) First Trimester
8) Second Trimester
9) Always

In Research Methods, the professor created a hypothetical questionnaire and answers. Evidently, he utilized abortion as its main focus. I have never blogged about the topic of abortion; however, I feel that now it is necessary.

Before, I could not understand why people had abortions. I did not accept it. I was always pro-life because of my mother. 

Then, when I became pregnant, I could not accept the idea of keeping my unborn child. I had just turned 18 and I was leaving to study photography in Houston! I wanted to live the life of the college student. I wanted to live carelessly. I wanted to be independent. I told my mom that I wanted an abortion but her pressure and ideals did not allow me to. In addition, I did not possess enough money to pay for an abortion. So, I decided to have my child. Yet, I feel that if I had the support from my mother and the money, I would have had an abortion.

Before, I never held favorable views toward abortion but I learned that it is alright. Women should not feel guilty for having an abortion. It is ultimately their personal decision and they have to think about what is best for them at the time. People have stigmatized abortion but they need to realize that they are not that individual. So, back off. People should not be made to feel terrible for a decision about their own body.


 

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My neighbourhood, like most neighbourhoods in Cameroon, has a good number of what is popularly known in this part of the world as ‘parlement’ or parliament in English. As its name indicates, these are places where issues affecting the community, the country and the world are discussed but contrary to the conventional meaning of the word ‘ parliament’ , the members of this ‘August House ’ do not represent any electoral district and are not elected by constituents but by unemployment.

Issues and most especially persons are discussed at these Parliaments. My neighbour’s son is one of those persons in the neighbourhood whom only the evocation of his name inspires what members of these parliaments of another type will call a great debate. Threats, insults, plots against the person being discussed are the order of the day in ‘parlements’ and my neighbour’s son Jean, has had to face all of these time and time again just because his sexual orientation is seen as members of these man slaughter houses called ‘parlement’ .

In fact some years back, Jean, whom many were already suspecting of having a sexual orientation that is contrary to that of his family members, publicly displayed what he felt he was-a woman. He thus started to put on female garments, wear make ups, walk and speak like a woman. Shocked by their son’s behavior, Jean’s school authorities dismissed him from school and as if that was not enough his parents drove him away from home. Jean first tried to make his parents and friends to understand how he felt nobody was ready to listen and after futile attempts he left his parent’s house. Unemployed as he was and still is, he had no means to rent a room and nobody (family members and those he called friends) was willing to receive someone who will bring ‘abomination’ into their house.

Thus ostracized and considered as the devil incarnate, Jean had no option but to stay in the street and prostitute to get money which could permit him rent a room. Even when he had raised money that could enable him pay rents, no landlord/landlady was willing to allow somebody like him stay in a house they have constructed for fear of GOD’s wrath against them. Blood being thicker than water, Jean’s parent’s readmitted him to their house on the condition that he would stop prostituting and deny what he felt he was and thus be like every other guy in the neighborhood. Pushed to the wall, Jean had no choice but to accept this condition but once at home, he began dressing to express female gender again.

Jean is now a hair dresser and still lives with his parents, who finally understood that there was no reason in trying to make Jean deny who he thinks he really is. But Jean is victim of stigma from the community in which he lives. He is systematically excluded of all community activities and events and has been given all names by people within and without the community.

Like Jean’s parents if there is somebody we can do to help our child, family member or friend who feels attracted not to members of the opposite sex but to those of same sex like him is to listen and listen keenly. Jean dropped out of school, became a street child, resorted to prostitution and has today been made to see himself as useless and worthless to his community because nobody dare listened.

Mind you! I am a straight guy and a convinced Roman Catholic Christian and intend to be both for as long as I live. But I do not see any point in stigmatizing and excluding a group of persons from the community just because they have a sexual orientation that is different from ours and that of the majority.

While governments and other international bodies have to stop the hate campaigns fanned by its legal frameworks and institutions, individual action in my opinion will have greater effect that any action from government. Remember the Butterfly effect?- a butterfly flapping its wings over the Amazon river can cause a cyclone.

Tolerance is not only key for achieving progress for our world, but is also fundamental if this progress has to be sustainable inclusive-real progress. We must therefore listen if we want to heal the world from all the wounds of hatred, war, racism, terrorism and homophobia. Putting yourself in the other’s shoes is not enough if these wounds must be healed. This healing process will only begin when we accept that, though from one family-the human race-we are all unique, have different opinions, and have different feelings. For as one Swedish writer wrote, ‘no matter how we try to feel the pain of others, we can only imagine what they feel. We can only feel our own pain’.

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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.

Educating on SRHR: A Shared Responsibility

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?

Dismissal: Not a Solution; the Source of More Troubles

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.

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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!

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On April 3, 2012, the first GoJoven Belize Cohort graduated after four intense trainings in areas of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights, proposal writing, advocacy, population-environment and conservation and personal development. GoJoven is a project funded by the Public Health Institute (PHI) and supported by the Summit foundation and has been an inspiration in the lives of many young people not only in Belize but also in Honduras, Guatemala and Quintaroo, Mexico. Alumni fellows in Belize, however, took the initiative of bringing GoJoven in Belize as an NGO and implementing the program in English as opposed to the Spanish program that was implemented at a regional level. On May 12, 2012, GoJoven Belize held Orientation Day for the 2012 Cohort who are mostly young people from the south of Belize. These include youth from Stann Creek, Cayo and Toledo Districts. The new cohort is full of vibrant young people with great ideas and the desire to make a positive change in their communities.

GoJoven 2012
GoJoven Belize 2012 Cohort GoJoven Belize 2012

As part of the 2011-2012 graduating class, I can truly say that GoJoven has made a great impact in my life motivating me to work with youth in the areas of SRH. I have come to realize not only the problems in my community and country but also on a global scale. The issues affecting young people in the world vary but are very similar in that they all affect the lives of young people and hinder them from obtaining the full quality of life. Through GoJoven, I have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to educate young people so that they can make better decisions regarding their sexuality and in the process inspire them to spread the information and reach out to other young people.

I hope that one day GoJoven can make its way through not only in Central America but in other parts of the world where the lack of SRH is prominent and needs urgent targeting. Thank you GoJoven for inspiring me, for making me stronger and more aware and for simply being there in the lives of young people.

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Thursday, May 17 Is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia!
A day to put LGBT rights on the global agenda

It is well-known that the LGBT community continues to face discrimination, stigma, and violence worldwide. No less than 76 countries around the world still consider homosexuality illegal and in 5 of them, homosexual acts are punishable by death. In almost all countries, transphobic laws limit the freedom not to act as socially determined by one person’s sex at birth.

May 17th provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the progress that has been made towards achieving LGBT rights as well as to draw attention to the persisting and unacceptable inequities still affecting LGBT people around the world and how this impacts LGBT youth in particular.

Now, it’s your turn to raise your voice!

From May 16 to 18, Amplify will host the FIRST International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia Blogathon.

You can commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) by sharing your thoughts on Amplify! Here are some questions to help you think about what you might want to write.

  • What is it like for LGBT youth in your country?
  • Do they have education, sexual and reproductive health services, and economic opportunities? Why or why not?
  • What do you see as priorities for advancing LGBT youth rights in your country?
  • How can LGBT youth be sustainable agents of change? Tell others about your own or other young people’s efforts to improve the rights of LGBT youth.

Join Amplify and write a blog post for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia!

You can also check out the office International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia website at www.DayAgainstHomophobia.org

Want to spread the word? Connect with youth activists worldwide through new media:

Additional Resources:

  • Click here to learn more about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ) rights.
  • Click here to read more about LGBT rights in the Caribbean.
  • Click here to download GLBTQ-related publications and pamphlets from AdvocatesForYouth.org.

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Advocates for Youth is proud to join a coalition of organizations participating in Strong Families’ Mama’s Day 2012 — a campaign to lift up and celebrate the mamas and others among us who do the amazing, inspiring, and often grueling work of raising our kids and anchoring our families.

Mama’s Day is a way to build a new definition of mamahood – a diverse collection of voices to explore and appreciate the complexities of building our families – beyond just Sunday brunch once a year. As Strong Families explains:

We are all engaged in families and communities in motion–from immigration status to sexuality and gender, from health and ability to disability and transformation. Day to day, the most constant thing is a commitment to figuring it out.

We wanted a way to recognize the day that would bring us back to it’s roots. Originally a cry against the Civil War, Mother’s Day was meant to be a radical revisioning of what is possible when you put mothers at the center of things.

From now through Mother’s Day, our blog will feature posts by mamas on an amazing range of topics, from nursing and working, to being pregnant while gender queer, to race, immigration and mamahood. Click here to learn more and get involved.

As the conversation continues through the weekend, we wanted to share a few Mama’s Day stories from Amplify – and to invite you to submit your own. Don’t miss these wonderful posts from Sandra and Ebony – and we can’t wait to hear your own stories soon!

Sandra’s Story

“My name is Sandra Lubian.I am 18-years-old and a senior in high school, and I have a 9-month-old baby named Adrian Giovanni. He has to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. I first found out I was pregnant on my 17th birthday. My boyfriend at the time and I didn’t know what we were going to do, and we especially didn’t know how we were going to tell our parents. I mean we didn’t know what we would need to raise a child, especially since we were still children ourselves…”

Click here to read more.

My Love Letter to You on the Third Day of Motherhood

“Who knew that your heart could expand this much and feel so overwhelmed with love and joy? I know; it feels wonderful and extremely scary at the same time. To hold this little one in your arms and feel the awe of the beauty and perfection that is your son. You helped to create this wonderful being. And now you have the honor, privilege, and the responsibility to care for, nurture, teach, love, discipline, and guide him for the rest of your life. Terror is right on the cusp, as you hold your son tighter with the vow to protect this special little boy with all of your being; because you know that as the mother of an African American male, that your protective instincts will be called upon sooner than you would like.

I know that your initial instinct will be to try to shield him from all that is ugly and unjust, but you know that will be impossible. You can’t keep him locked up from the challenges, ignorance, and fear that he will face because of the color of his skin. I wish that I could have given you this letter the day that we were preparing to take him home, but it has taken me 15 years of motherhood to figure this out for us. The only thing that you can do is to love him, teach him, trust him, and let him go (and I have so much more yet to learn).”

Click here to read more.


Happy Mama’s Day!