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Every day, Planned Parenthood affiliates and independent abortion providers around the nation give compassionate care to women who need abortions. I am fed up with the ongoing attacks on these brave and committed providers. The need for abortion care has been a common experience across the generations and health care facilities such as Planned Parenthood have been there to ensure safe access. Yet those who provide abortion care are too often intimidated, badgered, stalked, and entrapped.

I stand with Planned Parenthood and I ask you to do so as well.

In the videos, taken illicitly and illegally by anti-abortion extremists, staff frankly discuss fetal tissue donation. These donations help advance research into new treatments for diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure. Fetal tissue donation is voluntary on the part of the client. Research centers may compensate providers for storage and transportation. The facilitation of fetal tissue donation by some Planned Parenthood centers should be applauded for its contribution to the advancement of human science.

On the 1 in 3 campaign website, more than 800 women have shared their stories with abortion experiences – and many have specifically mentioned the caring and compassion they received from abortion care providers. We need to keep working toward a culture that centers real experiences with abortion. We need to build a culture of compassion, empathy, and support for access to basic reproductive health care and those who provide it.

It’s outrageous that politicians are using invasive provider intimidation as an opportunity to call for an end to all funding of Planned Parenthood. We can’t allow extremist and illegal actions to add to the stigma around abortion and make access more difficult.

Please join me in standing with Planned Parenthood.

Warmly,

Debra Hauser


Tweet now!

We’re fed up w/ provider intimidation + attacks on wmn’s health! Stand with #PlannedParenthood http://bit.ly/AFYStandWithPP #StandWithPP

 

left
We’re fed up with provider intimidation and attacks on women’s health! We can’t allow extremist and illegal actions make abortion access more difficult. Let’s stand together with Planned Parenthood. http://bit.ly/AFYStandWithPP #StandWithPP

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Advocates for Youth is thrilled about today’s decision finding same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.  It’s beyond time to stamp out all legislated bigotry. Recognizing marriage equality in every corner of this nation is a historic step for this country.

The swiftly growing cultural acceptance of LGBTQ rights has been propelled by Millennials, who are more likely than any other generation to support same-sex marriage. Young people refuse to sit idle as they, their friends, colleagues or family members are denied their inalienable rights.  And even as we celebrate this victory, we know the fight is not over.  LGBTQ young people around the nation need  to feel safe in their schools, communities, and homes. They need protection from discrimination in housing and employment.  They need sex education programs which truly include them and teach the skills they need to protect their health and lives.

The last few years have seen great leaps forward in understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ youth.  Let’s keep the momentum going until all young people are treasured for who they are and empowered to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

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Did you miss out on the premiere of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign last January at Studio Theater?

Now, you have five chances to catch the show THIS JULY!

Heartbreaking. Messy. Funny. The stories of Out of Silence puts real-life stories at the center of a new dialogue about abortion, one steeped in empathy and demonstrative of the importance abortion care has played in the lives of so many.

Don’t miss out! Get your tickets ($17) for the Capital Fringe Festival, along with your Fringe button ($5) before we’re sold out!

In solidarity,

Julia Reticker-Flynn

Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization

Advocates for Youth

 

 

 

Tweet now!

The #1in3 Campaign’s play #OutOfSilence is going to #CapFringe15! Get your tickets NOW! http://bit.ly/OOSFringe15

 

 

leftDid you hear? The #1in3 Campaign’s play #OutOfSilence is going to #CapFringe15! Get your tickets and Fringe button TODAY! http://bit.ly/OOSFringe15

Categories: Abortion
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outofsilencequoto

Inspired by real abortion stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, and honoring the tradition of theatre in social justice movements, the 1 in 3 Campaign is bringing Out of Silence to a university near you!

Host a performance of Out of Silence at your school or university!

From the halls of Congress, to pulpits and court houses around the country, there is so much noise around abortion—but it’s women’s personal stories that have been silenced. Out of Silence is a play comprised of a series of vignettes that bring to light the situations, relationships, emotions and logistics that contextualize peoples’ decisions to seek abortion care.

After the premiere last fall, an overwhelming number of people ask how they could bring Out of Silence to their school.

Now, you can sign up to perform Out of Silence on your campus this October! Registration deadline is August 15th.

By hosting a performance, you can help to challenge the stigma around abortion through igniting an honest, raw and complex conversation a theatre near you.

And just by signing up, you’ll receive copies of the script, a toolkit to assist in planning the performance, in addition to 1 in 3 Campaign Materials and swag, all for the low low price of FREE!

So don’t wait! Bring Out of Silence to a school near you, and take these stories out of the silence, to the stage.

 

In solidarity,

Julia Reticker-Flynn

Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization

Advocates for Youth

Tweet now!Now, you can sign up to perform #OutOfSilence on your campus this Oct.! Registration deadline is August 15th. #1in3 http://bit.ly/PerformOutOfSilence

 

 

tweet-now-toutJoin activists around the country in bringing #OutOfSilence to your campus this fall! Registration deadline is August 15th. #1in3 http://bit.ly/PerformOutOfSilence

 

Categories: Abortion
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Are you a young person (14-24 years old) who is:

  • Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
  • Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
  • Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?

Apply today to join one of Advocates for Youth’s programs! (more…)

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD
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The countdown to National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, April 10, has officially begun! And you can join young people around the nation as they lead efforts to end the AIDS epidemic. Here are five ways you can jump in right away:

  1. Sign the petition to President Obama asking him to prioritize young people in the National HIV/ AIDS Strategy.
  2. Get a local proclamation for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day and make NYHAAD #Official in your community! Use the NYHAAD Campaign Toolkit to help you get started.
  3. Host an event in recognition of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people like you are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic. Register your event here by March 20, 2015 in order to receive materials.
  4. Film a short video about why you’re speaking out about HIV and why President Obama must prioritize young people within the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Be sure to post on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube using the hashtag #SpeakOutHIV and #NYHAAD.
  5. Download the NYHAAD Campaign Toolkit and the State Advocacy Toolkit to get more great ideas for creative activism this NYHAAD.

 

Tweet now!The countdown to @YouthAIDSDay has begun! Here are 5 things you can do to get ready for #NYHAAD http://ow.ly/KeZji

 

 

leftThe countdown to National Youth HIV AIDS Awareness Day has begun!
Join young people across the nation as they lead efforts to end the AIDS epidemic.
Here are 5 things you can do to get ready for #NYHAAD http://ow.ly/KeZji

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Anti-abortion lawmakers have come up with a new way to interfere with reproductive decision making. This time, a handful of senators snuck an abortion coverage ban into legislation designed to support survivors of human trafficking. Shameful.

Just like everyone else, trafficking survivors should have access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care. Yet, due to the political maneuvering of anti-abortion senators, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) includes a provision that restricts abortion. Taking away someone’s ability to make the best decision for her circumstances isn’t “justice”.

We need you to take action NOW! Contact your senator and urge them to remove the abortion restriction from S. 178!

It’s no secret that some politicians in Washington are doing everything they can to make abortion unaffordable and inaccessible. Instead of providing access to safe and affordable medical care, anti-abortion senators are interfering with a trafficking survivor’s ability to get abortion care.

Tell your senator to stand with survivors of human trafficking by opposing this harmful restriction on abortion care!

When a woman needs to end her pregnancy, it’s important that she’s able to see a licensed, quality health provider. Let’s not let these politicians play games that jeopardize the health and well-being of those who need our support the most.

 

Tweet now!This bill should help trafficking survivors, instead it attacks women’s personal decision making http://bit.ly/1b2vxv5 #StriketheBan

 

leftOpponents of abortion decided to put an extreme restriction on abortion into bill about human trafficking. Don’t let them push their agenda. Trafficking survivors deserve to have all reproductive health options available to them. http://bit.ly/1b2vxv5 #StriketheBan #JVTA

Categories: Uncategorized
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We at Advocates believe that young people have the right to accurate, age-appropriate, complete information about their sexual health. We also believe that they have the right to that information in whatever form they can get it.

Approximately 89% of young people credit the Internet as their primary source for sexual health information. So why are organizations that provide young people with tools to safeguard their health, being censored by big tech companies?

Tell Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Yahoo, and Google, to change their restrictive policies that prevent the promotion of effective sexual health messages.

Advocates for Youth knows first hand that when sexual health organizations purchase ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, they are often forced to water down their messages. Or worse, the ads are flat out rejected. Denying young people potentially life-saving information is stigmatizing, unethical, and harmful.

It’s time for these tech giants to stop contributing to the shame and stigma of surrounding youth and healthy sexuality. Young people have the right to access information and services to protect their sexual well-being, and that’s why we support this petition. Will you join us and sign today?

 

Tweet now!Tell tech giants to stop contributing to the shame & stigma of youth’s healthy sexuality. Sign this petition: http://chn.ge/1zYdYBV

 

 

leftIt’s time for these tech giants to stop contributing to the shame and stigma of surrounding youth and healthy sexuality. Young people have the right to access information and services to protect their sexual well-being, and that’s why we support this petition. Will you join us and sign today? http://chn.ge/1zYdYBV

Categories: Uncategorized
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Too often, young people’s voices aren’t respected or included in decision-making processes that affect them.  That’s why Advocates for Youth (Advocates) is proud to support the Girl Engagement Advisory Board (GEAB), a team of adolescent girls aged 15-19 from Cameroon, Bulgaria, the United States, Kenya, Pakistan, Madagascar, Jamaica, Nigeria, Egypt, and Nepal. GEAB members engage in advocacy efforts to advance adolescent girls’ rights internationally and to inform, guide and advise Advocates’ efforts to elevate and secure prioritization of adolescent girls’ rights in the global post-2015 development agenda.   This week we asked them:  Why did you join the advisory board?  Here’s what they said:

In Egypt and unfortunately in many other countries, women are always less than men. They are expected to have kids and do housework and nothing else. Some are not even allowed to have a basic education or a decent job. They are also blamed for any violence against them. For example, girls may be blamed for being harassed or raped because they’re not wearing what the society thinks is “decent” clothing. Domestic violence is also justified and blamed on the woman for not being an “obedient wife”. Girls are pulled out of school and forced into marriage at a very young age because the society believes their only job is to be mothers and wives. I joined the girl engagement advisory board because people have to understand that women are not less than men, that women can be successful in many jobs and that women can be leaders. I joined because girls’ voices have to be heard. I joined because this injustice has to end. – Mai, 16, Egypt

I’ve lived in a society where is it difficult for me to walk on the street alone in the morning, let alone at night. The males make all the decisions and the woman is pushed to spend her life ‘cooking and cleaning’. As soon as she has mastered this task, she’s married to a complete stranger whom she is supposed to love and support and sacrifice for.
She isn’t an individual. She is considered a dependent load. She doesn’t have a voice. Her husband/brother/father speak for her. She’s caged, she’s oppressed and she’s internally dead.

I joined this board to change all of this. When will this oppression end? When will this unchecked harassment and sexism fade away? Only if girls could come together and unite to speak against such practices. It was a tiring task to raise the rights of girls singlehandedly in a state where the ‘Mullahs’ (Islamic Extremists) dominate the mindsets of the people. Even after collecting support for this opinion, I was criticized from society and started fearing for my future here. All I needed was a safe international platform where I could voice the opinions of the oppressed girls in my society to hope for some productive action. I’m lucky to be a part of this board which has provided me with such an opportunity to play my part to advocate the basic rights of girls to make them realize that they are not alone in this fight. - Hamna, age 17, Pakistan

“Oh look she is fat”, “Noo she is ugly”, “look at her thighs”, “look the way she walks. ” These are the things that a girl in my society has to listen and go through every day. Things like this made me realize how our society treats a girl. To overcome all the ups and downs that girls like me face every day, I joined Girls Engagement Advisory Board to empower girls and young women around me. – Muna, age 19, Nepal

There is a girl I know who is very intelligent, brilliant and smart. She comes from the northern part of my country specifically Kaduna state, Nigeria. She comes from a humble and not well to do home. Despite all challenges and problems she encountered, she finished her primary and secondary education with distinctions. After her secondary school education she traveled for x-mas celebrations in the village and while talking with her cousins her grandmother asked, now that you have finished your schooling “when are you going to come home and get married”. She was dumbfounded by the question and said nothing in reply. I am that girl.  And this is the reason why I joined the Girl Engagement Advisory Boar – so that I can advocate for girls right and keep empowering young people wherever I might find myself to make sure they fight and stand up for their rights. I wish for that day where every girl in my village, my country and the world at large would be able to go to school and not be schooled in early marriage. – Elizabeth, age 19, Nigeria

 

“But you can’t ever really say ‘no’…”
–Young girls in North Carolina

“But you’re a woman, you can’t be alone.”
–Morocco

“But you’re a girl, you need a man, and you need to have babies.”
–Kenya

“Women are only good for making sandwiches.”
–The running joke at my high school

I joined GEAB because of the young girls I met in the mountains of North Carolina who thought they had absolutely no say in having sex with someone. I joined because of the disregard I was given while traveling, that I was only worth a bride price and that I NEEDED to have a husband. That I was a waste if I wasn’t a wife and a mother. I joined because we, women, can do a lot more than make sandwiches. I joined because no person with or without religious authority can make me think that I should be placed below men.
I joined because from my own few experiences I have seen that as a girl, as a young woman, as a female I am not regarded with the same weight as a male. And I joined because that has to stop right now. – Allison, 19, United States

 

My upbringing consisted of growing up in a commune of women (namely my mother and sister). Sadly, in my country, women have always striven to be self-sufficient and could not always depend on men to support our life endeavours.

My mother has always advocated for pursuing our dreams and ambitions and had always been supportive of anything we participated in. She laid the foundation for me in empowerment, ambition and diligence.

However, I soon realized that this was not a common thread for most women in our society. Many in my country suffer from financial challenges that preclude them from pursing their education. Many girls are also told from a very young age that in order to go to school you have to ‘find a man to mind you’ (i.e. a man who will finance your education for sex). Many persons are also hesitant to use protection. Needless to say, shortly after the relationship begins and girls are able to go to school, they drop out shortly after due to underage pregnancy.

To add salt to the wound, the same persons that encourage the girls to get into relationships with men and not to use protection, demonize them for getting pregnant and isolate them from their community. The schools also bar them from continuing their education at the same institution and the girls are forced to compete to enter the only school in the country that caters to pregnant underage mothers. The males however, are not inconvenienced in their pursuits nor are they compelled to take care of their children.

My own friends became a part of this system and had very limited amounts of recourse when they are faced with challenges. My family tried to assist in the best ways we could but there are very limited avenues for advocacy for youth.

When I became aware of the opportunity to join the Girl Engagement Advisory Board, I found that it was an extraordinary opportunity to help girls who are at risk of falling into the same system due to not knowing their rights. It has invigorated me and given me a voice, platform and avenue in which I can provide solutions for girls who are at risk along with reaching out others who have the capacity to assist them. – Christal, 19, Jamaica

 

I have a group friends – girls, we are 8 of them – and we share everything with each other. One of my friends had a really strange relationship with her boyfriend. He chased after her for like 4 or 5 months, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to get involved with him yet. Eventually he proved to her that he cared about her and that he wasserious. Everything was going very well in the beginning when we met him and he looked like a really nice guy, but everything went bad a few months after they got together. He started calling her names, lying to her and he was very rude to her without a reason. He didn’t let her see other guys because he was very jealous and on top of everything he started to be violent against her. She had bruises at her arms and chest and he slapped her a few times as well. When I saw this I decided that the something should be done and that might be happening not only to my friend, but also to other girls.

I know that I am one person and I cannot change what happens to a lot of people, but when I know that there are other girls like me, caring about this, it makes me feel encouraged to help people like my friend. – Preslava, age 19, Bulgaria

Not only was the Girl Engagement Advisory Board a way towards self discovery and a way to make use of my potentials but also an opportunity to share what I have been through , my struggles to be right where I am now. I joined the  GEAB because I don’t want other girls to live what I lived. I want to be there for them ,and make them know that they have a friend who cares for them and be ready to make a stand by being their voice. – Patricia, age 16, Madagascar

 

 

 

Categories: International
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NAPD15

This March 10th marks the 20th anniversary of National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Let’s take this opportunity to honor and celebrate the people who risk so much to ensure access to safe reproductive health care every day.

Join us in showing your appreciation by gathering friends to send postcards of gratitude for National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.

Every single day, abortion providers, nurses and clinic staff stand with young people, women, and their families, often at great risks to themselves, to ensure access to safe medical care – care that 1 in 3 women will need in her lifetime.

Help us flood provider’s mailboxes with postcards of support, gratitude and appreciation. Register by tomorrow to receive a box of postcards designed by our good friend, Heather Ault from 4000 Years for Choice. Gather with your friends, colleagues, and classmates to write notes of appreciation and send to your local provider.

Click here to sign up to receive free postcards to send notes of appreciation to your local abortion provider.

 

Tweet now!Show yr #abortion provider some ❤ Register by tomm. for a box of postcards 2 send to yr local provider. #NAPD #1in3 http://bit.ly/VolunteerNAPD15

 

 

tweet-now-toutThis National Abortion Provider Day, help us flood provider’s mailboxes with postcards of support, gratitude and appreciation for all that they do. Register by tomorrow to receive a box of postcards designed by Heather Ault of 4000 Years of Choice! #NAPD #1in3 http://bit.ly/VolunteerNAPD15

Categories: Abortion
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Want to show your love for access to safe abortion care this Valentine’s Day? Bee sweet to your honey, or some otter special person in your life and send them a 1 in 3 Valentine for just $5! Check out the new Valentines for 2015!

Click here to send out your Valentine!

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This week, coinciding with the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Advocates for Youth hosted the D.C. performance of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. One of the reasons that the 1 in 3 campaign has been so powerful is because it centers the voices of people who have abortions. Unfortunately, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we will also be watching the House of Representatives vote to ban abortions after 20 weeks. It is a stark reminder how little many of our legislators value the voices and experiences of the 1 out of 3 women who will have an abortion in her lifetime. The stories people share with us show that each person faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications, and how important it is that she is able to make her own decisions based on what’s right for her and her loved ones. Young people in particular are more likely to face barriers to accessing safe abortion care and may be forced to delay an abortion because they need time to assemble the funds, or lack transportation or access to a provider. Parental consent and notification laws in many states also force young women to delay safe medical care. For young people in one of the 38 states that mandate parental involvement in minors’ abortions, trying to obtain an abortion may look like this:

A 16 year old high school student from rural Louisiana realizes she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion. The fees at closest clinic to her, which is still over two hours away, range from $400 to over $800 for the procedure. She will need to make two trips to the clinic, first for the state-mandated “counseling” session, for which she may have to pay an additional fee, and then after the state-mandated 24 hour waiting period for her actual procedure. She will have to find a way to get out of class without getting in trouble and a ride to get to the clinic for both of her appointments, as well as the money for her procedure. As a minor, Louisiana requires her to get a parent or guardian’s written consent before obtaining an abortion. Most young people do consult with their parents before seeking an abortion, but for those who can’t, those afraid to anger or disappoint, or who face the threat of violence in their homes, it is best for them to seek the advice of a trained medical professional than to face the situation alone and afraid. Instead, parental notification requires minors who do not or cannot obtain written parental consent to seek official approval from a judge.

To do so, she must first visit the clinic to obtain written documentation that she is pregnant, which can cost more money on top of her procedure. She then must fill out a judicial bypass application, with help from a volunteer attorney if she wants and can wait for one. Then, she must bring her documentation and her application to the correct courthouse when it is open (which is generally during school hours). Provided the courthouse staff knows the laws and procedures of the process, they will allow her to file her form and require that she either pays a filing fee or fill out a fee waiver. If there is a judge willing to take her application, she will be given a hearing date, which is supposed to be within 48 hours. She must attend the hearing, requiring arranging another ride and more time off from school, and will be appointed a lawyer – who may or may not be supportive of her right to have an abortion – if she did not opt for a volunteer lawyer before. At the hearing, the judge can ask her a range of personal questions about her background and the circumstances of her pregnancy. It is then in the judge’s hands to grant her permission, if he deems her “mature” and informed enough or that it is otherwise in her best interest. If the judge rules in her favor, she can take the order he gives her to the abortion clinic for her procedure appointments. If the judge rules against her, she can appeal the judge’s decision, which requires more forms and another hearing within 48 hours of the first judge’s decision.

Every day young people navigate this process to make the healthcare decisions that are best for them. As one young women shared with the 1 in 3 campaign, “Society has everyone think that we have no power over our own bodies and choices, and at 15 legally we almost have none. At only 15 years of age I KNEW that I did not want to bring a child into this world to struggle with a young mother . . . I knew I had to get this abortion without my mom’s consent because she would not allow it to happen . . . I found out that I had to get a waiver signed by a judge. So on the day of my appointment (at the clinic) I would have to present the waiver to the receptionist. So I lied to my brother (knowing that he was anti-abortion) and made up a different story convincing him to take me to the court house.”

At the same time, politicians work to make it even harder for young people to access the safe abortion care they need by pushing harmful bans and restrictions. Proactive legislation being introduced, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would help remove many of the unnecessary and harmful restrictions and prevent new restrictions from being enacted into law, still this pro-active bill excludes protections for young women’s access to safe abortion. As Roe v. Wade turns 42, let’s focus on something different: the voices of people who have abortions. In that spirit, I will close with a quote from Suzy: “My abortion was a way to affirm that I am in control of my life and my future, whatever it may hold. It is not something that eats me up, but rather something that makes me grateful to live in a society where I had a choice about my health. Hopefully it stays that way.”

Categories: Abortion
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UrsulaAppeal

In Nepal, talking about sex and sexuality is taboo. Imagine not being able to get basic information, or even ask questions. I started working with a local organization so young people, especially young women, could talk about their sexual health and get the lifesaving information they need. With support from Advocates for Youth, after a three year campaign, we got comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education into schools in Nepal.

Donate $10 now to help activists like me get trained to advocate for lifesaving sex education in our countries.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took years of meetings with policy makers, and the first online activist petition ever used in Nepal to get better sex ed in our schools. Now students can get information on topics like contraception, safe abortion, sexuality and sexual health services.

Advocates invested in me. They brought me to the U.S. for intensive 5-day training where I could learn and meet other youth activists and find family in the issues and challenges that connected all of our activism across the globe. Now when adults in Nepal know that I have been to the U.S., and have met with U.S. government officials, they have confidence in me and our work together becomes easier.

Advocates changed the course of my life and now, my country. Now, it’s your turn.

Donate $10 now to help activists like me get trained to advocate for lifesaving sex education in our countries.

With thanks for all that you do,

 

Ursula

Nepali Activist

Advocates for Youth

 

Tweet now!

.@AdvocatesTweets trains young ppl to make real change in their communities. Donate $10 to help us continue the fight http://bit.ly/18ygFCx

 

 

tweet-now-toutDonate $10 today and you can be an ally for young people across the globe fighting for change in the policies affecting their health and rights in their communities! http://bit.ly/18ygFCx. http://bit.ly/18ygFCx

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On December 9, the day before International Human Rights Day, CHANGE and 20 other human rights, women’s rights, faith-based, and youth organizations rallied at the White House to call on President Obama to take executive action to ensure that U.S. political barriers no longer stand in the way of access to safe abortion services for women and girls overseas who survive rape or incest or whose lives are endangered by a pregnancy.

Above is a video of me speaking at the rally – I was very excited to deliver remarks on the behalf of Advocates for Youth! I shared powerful stories of our brave and inspiring international youth advocates on the ground.  In case you aren’t able to watch the video, here are my remarks:

 My name is Imani Marks and I am a member of the International Youth Leadership Council, a project of Advocates for Youth. I am an undergraduate student at The George Washington University here in DC, studying Public Health. I am so honored to be standing here today with all of you and to be among this diverse and influential group of speakers who are all here calling on the President to provide access to post-rape care for women and girls.

I am inspired and have learned a great deal from Advocates’ young women and adolescent girl activists and peer educators working in the global south to advance  sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality. Whether it’s Helena in Namibia who suffered sexual abuse growing up, resulting HIV infection, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, including untreated fistula post-partum; Hamna in Pakistan who experiences and is faced with witnessing constant sexual harassment of girls in her town on a regular basis; Shanti in Nigeria who did not have access to information about contraception and experienced complications from an unsafe abortion; or girls in rural Burkina Faso in the town of Leo who have undergone female genital cutting, it’s time for all young women and girls to have complete access to the full-range of sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services, including safe abortion.

Helena in Namibia is trying to make this a reality in her own way by establishing a community-based organization to support young women living with HIV. Hamna in Pakistan is visiting schools to educate girls and boys about sexual harassment and the importance of respecting both girls and boys rights and dignity; and in Burkina, girls already having experienced FGC are standing up for their younger sisters, asking their parents not to subject them to the same harm.  Girls and young women around the world and in the direst situations are fighting for their reproductive rights. They are fighting for access to critical health services, including safe abortion.

Now it’s time for the President to step up. To stand with them. And to eliminate barriers to safe abortion care for women and girls.

 

For more information on the Break Barriers Campaign, visit breakbarriers.org.

 

 

Categories: International
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PFernandezAppeal

I started Tea Time and Sex Chats to provide positive, comprehensive, peer-led sex education to my fellow students at the University of Chicago. One hundred people came to the very first session! Each one had questions about all sorts of things they never felt comfortable asking their parents or doctors. Being a member of Advocates’ Young Women of Color Leadership Council gave me the training and education to feel confident tackling these issues and answering questions honestly.

Help me raise $5,000 today so that shame is not a barrier to health for young people.

Now, whether I’m leading a workshop, working with youth activists, or connecting them to resources, I know Advocates for Youth has my back. I am driven every day to make sure that all young people have access to the resources and information they need to live the healthiest life possible.

Advocates for Youth puts young people side-by-side with policy makers, educators, health care professionals, and the media to produce meaningful change in the policies and programs affecting youth sexual health and rights and show young people as leaders of today.

Shame shouldn’t keep young people from getting the resources they need. Help me raise $5,000 today.

It’s not for everyone. And for Advocates for Youth to do its work to put young people front and center, it takes your support.

In solidarity,

Patty Fernandez

Youth Activist

Advocates for Youth

 

Tweet now!

.@AdvocatesTweets trains & preps young ppl on the frontline making change. Donate $10 to help us continue the fight http://bit.ly/18ygFCx

 

 

tweet-now-toutDonate $10 today and to help train youth activists across the country to produce meaningful change in the policies and programs affecting youth sexual health and rights! http://bit.ly/18ygFCx

Categories: Sex Education
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The 2015 National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Ambassador application is now open! Every year we mark April 10, as a day to educate and empower the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic.

Now is your chance to join a dynamic group of young leaders and activists who come together to promote treatment, care, and youth empowerment.

NYHAAD Ambassadors hold events on their campuses and in communities, promote NYHAAD through social media, art, blogs and videos and will collaborate with other Ambassadors and Advocates staff on materials and resources to make NYHAAD known throughout the country!

PS – Adults: please share this with two fantastic young people in your community!

The application deadline is Friday December 12th. Apply now!

 

Tweet now!Become a 2015 @YouthAIDSDay Ambassador & help raise awareness about the impact of #HIV & #AIDS on young ppl! http://bit.ly/ApplyNYHAAD #NYHAAD

 

tweet-now-tout The 2015 National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Application is now open! Now is your chance to join youth leaders and activists to raise awareness about the impact of HIV & AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic. http://bit.ly/ApplyNYHAAD

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD, Uncategorized
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Join Advocates for Youth in speaking out!

Today is the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and the first day of 2014’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991, that runs through December 10 (International Human Rights Day). During the 16 Days of Action, Advocates for Youth and our allies highlight violence against women as a human rights issue and call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. This year, the theme of the 16 Days of Activism is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence!” In observance of the 16 Days, advocates from around the world are using blog posts, radio, and other media, and hosting events to lift up the stories of women and girls, emphasize the intersectional nature of gender-based violence and push for an end to violence against women.

Advocates believes that societies—meaning governments, communities, teachers, health providers, parents, the media, and young people themselves, among others—have the responsibility to ensure an environment where young people can access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health information and confidential services to make healthy choices, free of stigma and discrimination. Yet, the over 1 billion young people worldwide, and particularly young women worldwide, face significant challenges that obstruct them from meeting their full potential. We are committed to remedying these challenges and to ensuring that young women and girl’s rights are not ignored nor sacrificed for political expediency. An integral part of that fight is to ensuring that young women and girls are free from the threat of violence.

So, joining our allies, Advocates for Youth will be featuring one blog each day on Amplify from youth activists who sit on our International Youth Leadership Council and Girl Engagement Advisory Boards. The International Youth Leadership Council is composed of young people based in Washington, D.C. who are interested in working to improve the health and well-being of their peers, by participating in educating policy makers, the media, and the American public about the importance of increasing U.S. funding for global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and for international family planning. The IYLC has recently been joined by our new Girl Engagement Advisory Board, a team of youth activists aged 15-19 from around the world who engage in advocacy and inform, guide and advise Advocates’ work to advance adolescent girls’ rights within the post-2015 development process.

Categories: 16 Days
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No doubt about it, last Tuesday’s results were tough to take. We’re painfully aware of the ways that the 114th Congress can have a serious impact on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people. But, there were some silver linings to remember as we look at what is to come. Here’s what went down this week:

The Good:

 

  • Most ballot measures were positive on issues important to young people: Voters approved extensive background checks for gun purchases in Washington, an equal rights amendment in Oregon, the reduction of some criminal penalties in California, paid sick leave mandates in Massachusetts and several New Jersey towns, marijuana decriminalization in Oregon, Alaska, Guam, and DC, and minimum wage raises in South Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, Illinois, San Francisco and Oakland, and they soundly rejected personhood amendments in North Dakota and Colorado.
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen – a champion on sexual health issues who has sponsored key legislation on abortion access and birth control – ran a successful campaign with a reproductive rights platform, making Scott Brown the first man to be defeated in a Senate race by two women in two different states.
  • Many of our progressive champions in the House were re-elected. To brighten your day, check out this interview with one of our sex ed champions, Barbara Lee, on the Colbert Report (skip to 6:24 where they talk about comprehensive sex ed!).
  • At the state level, Tom Wolf defeated Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who had an abysmal record on reproductive health issues.

 

The Bad:

  • In Tennessee, voters approved a ridiculous abortion amendment to their state constitution, while Georgia voters approved a measure to cap state income tax at 6%, which could result in some big cuts to their social programs in the future.
  • Aside from Sen. Shaheen in New Hampshire and possibly Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia (where he currently has the lead), progressives and moderates lost seats in the most competitive races, including Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, and Mark Udall in Colorado. Progressives also failed to unseat incumbent conservative Senators in a few key states, including Kentucky; or capture toss up open seats in Georgia or Iowa.
  • Both Maryland and Massachusetts, two states considered to have strong progressive bases, elected Republican Governors.
  • We are awaiting results in two states: Mary Landrieu (D-LA) faces a tough runoff election on December 6th, and with 100% of the precincts reporting, Mark Begich (D-AK) still has not conceded to Republican Dan Sullivan.

 

 

The Ugly:

  • Despite record numbers of turnout in places like North Carolina and Missouri, overall, the turnout was one of the lowest in recent history.
  • While most progressive ballot measures won at the state and local level, the same voters primarily elected conservatives into office, signaling a growing discontent among voters with the lack of strong progressive candidates.
  • The Republicans will control both chambers of Congress, with the House Republicans having their largest majority in more than 60 years. This allows extreme conservatives to hold presumed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accountable to his campaign promises, and push for draconian measures on issues of abortion, immigration and Obamacare.

Now what?

While most of the news was bleak from Tuesday’s results, there are still some positive take-aways:

  • While overall the youth turnout was down, where young people did turn out to vote, progressive issues did really well. Young people and women of color voted in larger numbers than they did in 2010’s mid-term election, and voted for reproductive health champions, likely keeping races closer than they would have otherwise. Young people’s voices will continue to be important for progressive candidates in the 2016 election.
  • There has never been a better time to change the conversation about abortion, birth control, and other reproductive justice issues. Instead of allowing the conversation to be dragged to the right, let’s to start a new conversation to once again spark imaginations about what strong communities look like, with policies that allow every young person to make healthy decisions.
  • With the Obama Administration in its final two years, we need to continue to push the Administration to get actual change for young people.

Decisions about issues affecting young people don’t end with the ballot box, so our work can’t end there either!

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YouthShowOUT

Elections are just six days away! Now is the time to make YOUR voice heard.

I’m asking you to make a commitment to yourself and your community — take the pledge to ShowOUT in 2014!

Elections matter – they are the time to show your support for the candidate that best represents your values and lived experiences. It’s a time to hold your elected officials accountable.

TAKE THE PLEDGE NOW to speak out, turn out and vote in 2014.

As young people, we have an incredible opportunity to make a huge impact in the political process and ultimately on the issues that matter most to us. Let’s make sure our voices are heard, and pledge to vote in this year’s midterm elections on Tuesday, November 4th.

It’s time to ShowOUT by speaking out, turning out and voting in 2014!

Hope to see you on election night,

Julia Reticker-Flynn

Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization

Advocates for Youth

P.S For more information about the Youth ShowOUT, please check out our 2014 Youth ShowOUT website!

 

 

Tweet now!Registered to vote? Pledge to speak out, turn out & show out this election day, Nov. 4th #YouthShowOut http://ow.ly/CkS5r

 

 

tweet-now-toutMake a commitment to yourself and your community this election day — pledge to speak out, turn out, & show out in 2014 #YouthShowOut http://ow.ly/CkS5r

Categories: Uncategorized
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Thank you. Because of your support, we are creating a world where all young people have the right to lead healthy (more…)

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Check out the 2014 Youth ShowOUT! The campaign will engage and mobilize young voters across the country through on the ground organizing, social media activism, and online actions at youthshowout.org.  Advocates for Youth (Advocates), Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), and Planned Parenthood Generation (PPGen), a project of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, are joining forces for this exciting new national civic engagement campaign.

In 2014, young voters will do more than just turn out–they will ShowOUT! Youth leaders are educating their peers, registering voters, participating in voter pledge drives, volunteering, and more. Young people are at the helm of lasting change in our country. They are taking charge and becoming a part of the political process.

Young people are an essential component of the rising electorate. Every day, nearly 12,000 young people turn 18 years old and become eligible to vote. At Advocates for Youth we know firsthand the power of young people is undeniable. There are tens of thousands of youth activists and leaders who are actively reshaping their communities and changing what politics looks like in this country. We have a responsibility to work alongside these young people as they lead us to new solutions and lasting change.

Visit Youth ShowOUT, sign the pledge, and share with friends!

Categories: Young People
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You took action and the President heard you loud and clear. Thanks to your action, and (more…)

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It’s just wrong that hardworking and dedicated young people can be fired for being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer. For being who they are. These young people have no protection. No recourse.

We need our President to stand strong. And right now, he can make a big difference for thousands of LGBTQ federal employees and contractors. Join us in demanding that President Obama and his Administration do the right thing and sign executive orders protecting LGBTQ workers without needless exemptions that would open the door to discrimination.

With a swipe of his pen, President Obama’s executive orders will expand workplace protections for young people across the country. Current federal law already provides an exemption for houses of worship and religiously-affiliated organizations. Further exemptions are unnecessary and would dilute the protections the orders are seeking to provide for LGBTQ young people.

Mr. President, it’s time to stop surrendering the rights of young people.

Tweet now!.@WhiteHouse No more religious exemptions! #LGBTQ employees deserve protections, regardless of where they work. #ENDAEO #DearPOTUS

Tweet now!.@WhiteHouse #DearPOTUS, #LGBTQ young people believe in #equality, #freedom, and #justice. #ENDAEO

Tweet now!.@BarackObama you said ’now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,’ Prove it, sign #ENDAEO. No more exemptions. #DearPOTUS

Tweet now!.@vj44 workplaces should be free from discrimination for all people, including #LGBTQ employees. Protect workers’ rights. #ENDAEO #DearPOTUS

 

 

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It’s been a tough few days for us here at Advocates. Last week the Supreme Court ruled against buffer zones at abortion clinics, and just a couple hours ago the Court put women’s access to contraception in jeopardy.

We could give you a long, legal explanation of the cases, but in short—until our society recognizes that sexuality is a normal, healthy part of being human, we’ll continue to get devastating decisions like these.

Donate today so we can continue to fight for our personal freedoms and reproductive health services.

Shifting the culture around these issues is one of the most powerful tools we have as activists. Young people in communities around the world are already fighting for change. Help support them. Donate today.

 

Tweet now!It’s been a tough few days in the battle for #sexual & #reprorights. But it’s not over. Help us continue the fight! http://ow.ly/y64og

tweet-now-toutLast week the #SupremeCourt ruled against #bufferzones at #abortion clinics and just a couple hours ago the Court put at jeopardy women’s access to #contraception. It’s been a tough few days in the battle for sexual and reproductive healthcare. But it’s not over. Help us continue the fight! http://ow.ly/y64og

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It’s been a tough few days for us here at Advocates.  Last week the Supreme Court ruled against buffer zones at abortion clinics, and just a couple hours ago the Court put women’s access to contraception in jeopardy.

jepardy

We could give you a long, legal explanation of the cases, but in short—until our society recognizes that sexuality is a normal, healthy part of being human, we’ll continue to get devastating decisions like these.

Donate today so we can continue to fight for our personal freedoms and reproductive health services.

Shifting the culture around these issues is one of the most powerful tools we have as activists. Young people in communities around the world are already fighting for change. Help support them. Donate today.

We can do this.

Deb

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Question: Were you a part of one of our youth programs? If so, join our new Advocates Alumni Network!

For more than a decade, Advocates for Youth has led programs for youth activists from across the United States and around the world focusing on sexual and reproductive health issues. We are in awe of the passion, vision and leadership you have taken over the years. And…well, we miss you! What you’ve been up to?

Let’s face it, we have history together! Perhaps you were a Campus Organizer, and advocated for policy changes related to comprehensive sex education on campuses.

Or maybe you pioneered the field of online peer education through YouthResource, our website for and by LGBTQ young people.

As we look towards the next decade (don’t worry you still look fabulous), we want to know the journey of our activists. What field of employment did you land in? What internships or fellowships did you participate in? How did your experience with Advocates impact you personally & professionally? We really want to know!

Please take 15 minutes and join Advocates Alumni Network. Help us establish an Alumni program that will continue to engage the next wave of activists and leaders.

Let’s connect!

Tweet now!Help build @advocatestweets *new* alumni network! Tell us your journey. http://bit.ly/AFYalum #AFYalum

 

 

tweet-now-toutAdvocates for Youth is calling on all alumni to build the new alumni network! Quick survey http://bit.ly/AFYalum

Categories: Young People
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As activists from the U.S and around the world, will you stand in solidarity with your LGBT identified friends and peers on May 17?

Over the course of this year alone, we have seen an escalation of violence and harassment targeting LGBT people across the globe. The harmful targeting of LGBT youth, or persons perceived to be LGBT, continues to threaten young people’s human rights as well as their ability to lead healthy, safe, and successful lives. Which is why we must stand up, not just on The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17), but every day.

Join us in condemning discrimination and violence towards LGBT youth by sharing why you will speak out against homophobia and transphobia by downloading one of these #IDAHOT signs.

    

Even with the threat of harsh words, prison and violence, I am constantly amazed by the work of youth activists around the world who are tirelessly working to address homophobia and transphobia in their communities. Their work doesn’t stop, therefore neither does mine.

Stand with Advocates against discrimination and violence towards LGBT young people.

Thank you.

Tweet now!I speak out against homophobia and transphobia in the US and abroad. Do you? http://bit.ly/1gkApxd #IDAHOT

 

 

tweet-now-toutStand with Advocates to show discrimination of LGBT young people will not be tolerated. Share why you speak out against homophobia and transphobia. http://bit.ly/1gkApxd #IDAHOT

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After three years of community mobilization and advocacy efforts, the School Board of Broward County unanimously passed one of the most comprehensive sexual health education policies in the nation!

And young people were at the center of those efforts. Join them in saying “Thank You” to the School Board of Broward County for supporting comprehensive sexual health education!

Congratulations to the Broward County Youth Council for all their hard work in making sure that young people have access to the resources and education they need to make healthy decisions about their lives!

Starting next school year, all sexual health education in Broward Schools will be medically accurate, age-appropriate, and be taught to students on an annual basis. Finally, young people in Broward will receive the sexual health education they deserve.

Take a minute to say “Thank You” to the School Board of Broward County!

Tweet now!The Broward School Board just unanimously passed comp sex ed! Thank them with me:ow.ly/wyrCy

 

tweet-now-toutA win for sex ed! Starting next school year, Broward Schools will deliver the sexual health education all students deserve! Join me in thanking the school board! ow.ly/wyrCy

Categories: Sex Education
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Prom season is in full swing! Students across the country are reserving limos, renting tuxes, and posing for those classically awkward photos for their parents. But while we’re enjoying the glamour, let’s not forget safety! It’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #promswag!

Share on FacebookIt’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #PromSwag. http://bit.ly/PromSwag

tweet-now-toutProtect yourself and your partner while getting your #PromSwag on http://bit.ly/PromSwag #safersex

abstinence #promswag
condoms #promswag
condoms #promswag
patch #promswag
pill #promswag
#promswag

Show your love for contraception methods, while getting your prom glam on.

Share on FacebookIt’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #PromSwag. http://bit.ly/PromSwag

tweet-now-toutProtect yourself and your partner while getting your #PromSwag on http://bit.ly/PromSwag #safersex

Keep calm, and Prom on.

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Are you looking for ways to participate in National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day? Here are 5 easy ways to get to you started!

Get tested for HIV! Find a testing center in your area here: http://aids.gov/locator/.

1.Join NYHAAD Youth Ambassador Wesley and Advocates’ NYHAAD Coordinator Sulava Gautam-Adhikary on April 10 at 5:30 PM EST on HUFFINGTON POST LIVE for a convo on the impact of HIV on young people.

2.

3.Participate on social media! Follow NYHAAD on Facebook and Twitter using @YouthAIDSDay and #NYHAAD! And join us on TONIGHT at 6:00 PM EST on the NYHAAD Facebook for a live chat on HIV.

Here are some sample tweets that you can use leading up to and on #NYHAAD:

  • Invest in young people! Support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day! 4/10 @YouthAIDSDay #NYHAAD
  • We support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day for an AIDS-free generation. #NYHAAD http://bit.ly/16W39nX @YouthAIDSDay
  • Every month 1,000 young people acquire HIV. Let’s invest in young people! Join National Youth HIV& AIDS Awareness Day 4/10. #NYHAAD
  • Know your HIV status. Find a testing site near you http://bit.ly/16W39nX #NYHAAD
  • Want to get involved for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, April 10? Here’s a toolkit: http://ow.ly/vvW5v #NYHAAD @YouthAIDSDay

4.Download and share fact sheets from the CDC and Advocates for Youth.

5. Share these new infographics on what young people need to get to an “AIDS-free generation”.

Take a selfie with this sign and tell US what YOU think young people need to get to an “AIDS-free generation”. Download the photo campaign poster here.

Let’s go!

Tweet now!I support National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day for an AIDS-free generation. #NYHAAD http://bit.ly/16W39nX @YouthAIDSDay

 

tweet-now-toutWant to get involved for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, April 10? Here’s a toolkit: http://ow.ly/vvW5v #NYHAAD @YouthAIDSDay

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD
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“Art begins with resistance.” – André Gide

Art has great power. It can get your attention. It can make you think. It can even change your mind. That’s why art can be such a powerful tool for activists. Now we’re asking you to use that power to change the conversation around abortion.

Host a 1 in 3 Week of Artivism event to showcase people’s real stories of experiences with abortion.

During the week of April 21-27, activists around the country will host 1 in 3 Week of Artivism events to bring new audiences to the real stories about abortion experience which people have shared with the 1 in 3 Campaign. You can participate by reserving a space on your campus or community and setting up an interactive display of stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign.

We’ll send you a “display in a box.” You assemble, personalize, and set up the exhibit. You don’t have to be Picasso to participate – you just need a display space and some time to construct the display.

Will you host a 1 in 3 Week of Artivism event?

Please register by April 4 so we can send you the supplies you need.

Categories: Abortion
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In the words of ROCK STAR youth activist Kirin Gupta, ““What is at stake today is an issue of sexism, classism, and oppression. It is the control exercised by money and power of a few who are twisting our country’s freedom of religion to deny basic freedoms to young, often already marginalized bodies. These choices are ours—not our schools, not our bosses, not anyone else’s.”

Today’s Supreme Court hearing on contraception and religious liberty was a big deal and we could not be more proud of the response from our friends, allies, co-workers, partner orgs, and youth activists all around the country.  Our voices have been heard, and we are watching!

Visit #DearSCOTUS for a comprehensive look at all the went down today, but here are a few pics too!

photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 1960963_10154052157820145_1817722768_o photo 2kirin jeryl

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Are you a young person (14-24 years old) who is:

  • Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
  • Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
  • Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?

Apply today to join one of Advocates for Youth’s programs!

If selected, you will have opportunities to: develop new organizing and leadership skills; become informed on sexual and reproductive health issues; connect with passionate young people from across the country; and build skills to make a lasting impact in your community. You will also join more than 100 youth activists in Washington, DC for an intense four-day activist training institute free of charge!

Advocates’ youth activists have done amazing work this year. You can join them in:

  • Advocating for better sexual health education policies in your state
  • Increasing HIV testing and condom availability in your community or on your campus
  • Providing confidential support and resources to young people who are coming out as LGBTQ
  • Mobilizing your peers around international family planning issues
  • Working toward ending the shame and stigma people are made to feel about having an abortion

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, click here to find out more about the programs and apply today! Applications are due April 15, 2014.

If you are a parent, teacher, or advocate who knows young people who are passionate about sexual and reproductive health and rights, please encourage them to apply.

Join our team!

Tweet now!@AdvocatesTweets is looking for passionate youth activists who care about reproductive rights! Apply today! http://bit.ly/1hISa4H

 

tweet-now-toutAdvocates for Youth is looking for passionate youth activists who care about sexual health & reproductive rights! Apply today! http://bit.ly/1hISa4H

Categories: Young People
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Should corporations be given a free pass to discriminate against their employees?

That’s what the Supreme Court will be deciding on March 25 when they will hear cases from two corporations that object to providing insurance which includes coverage for birth control.

Be a part of an online picket line. Make your voice heard on our #DearSCOTUS Digital Soapbox.

Share your thoughts about why affordable and available contraception is important, what you think about the co-opting of religious liberty, and what’s at stake for you. Through your blogs, Instagram pics and video, YouTube clips and tweets we’ll capture an online picket line in solidarity with those protesting at the Supreme Court. All you have to do is use the hashtag #DearSCOTUS. So make a sign, record a video, or write a blog and join the protest.

We all know how important access to birth control is for young people. It’s basic health care, that we have already fought for and won. But this case means more than just birth control pills.

If the Supreme Court decides that corporations have a right to discriminate based on their owner’s religious beliefs, that would mean they have a “free pass” to discriminate against anyone they chose, and any medical treatment they didn’t agree with. Anyone. Anything.

That means: LGBTQ individuals who want partnership benefits. Gone. HIV screening or STI counseling. No. Maternity care. You can’t have that. Immunizations before college. No way.

Show the world that young people won’t stand for our country to roll back the clock on rights and liberties.

Stand in solidarity with protestors and join the online picket line at #DearSCOTUS Digital Soapbox.

You can get started by taking a picture with this sign and tweeting it to @amplifytweets using the #DearSCOTUS hashtag.

 

Tweet now!Should corporations get a free pass to discriminate against employees? No. Make ur voice heard on #DearSCOTUS http://bit.ly/DearSCOTUS

 

 

tweet-now-toutI’m not going to stand for our country to roll back the clock on rights and liberties. I stand in solidarity with protestors and joining the online picket line at #DearSCOTUS http://bit.ly/DearSCOTUS

Categories: Uncategorized
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Every single day, abortion providers, nurses and clinic staff stand with young people, women, and their families to ensure access to safe medical care – care that 1 in 3 women will need in her lifetime.

Join us in showing your appreciation by signing a postcard for National Abortion Provider Day. They will be mailed to a provider near you!

Sadly, many abortion providers and clinic staff face significant risks, including harassment, stalking, threats to family members, and even violence. Despite these risks, they continue to stand with us and provide care.

In 1996, March 10th was declared National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. To honor and celebrate the people who risk so much to ensure access to safe reproductive health care. Advocates for Youth is honored to stand with these brave and caring professionals.

Thank you to our good friend Heather Ault from 4000 Years For Choice for designing these beautiful appreciation postcards.

Click here to select a postcard image, and we’ll print and send your postcard to your local abortion provider.

Tweet now!On National Abortion Provider Day, I stand with providers and you can too http://ow.ly/ulWn6 #ProviderLove #1in3

 

 

tweet-now-toutAbortion providers and clinic staff face significant risks, harassment, stalking,and even violence. Despite these risks, they continue to stand with us and provide care. Show your love by sending them a thank you postcard. http://bit.ly/1qfFqZC

Categories: Abortion
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Shades of Roise

#ShadesofRosie is a campaign that seeks to start and maintain a conversation about intersectionality in our movements and in our lives. Through the feminist icon, Rosie the Riveter, we want to show how diverse women are and thus how diverse our movement has to be in order to truly fight for them. Feminism is evolving and this Women’s History Month, #ShadesofRosie is finding ways to highlight that evolution through a figure that has already seen her meaning change as society changed.

Fun Fact: Rosie the Riveter wasn’t created for feminism.

The “We Can Do It” poster that is now most famously associated with the feminist symbol Rosie The Riveter was originally used as a propaganda tool to get women in the work force during World War II. Lower class women and women of color, of course, were already in the workforce, but in the midst of the War, the government needed everyone on deck. The government at that time, however, did not intend for women to STAY in the workforce. Rosie’s iconic image was always supposed to be temporary.

It wasn’t until the Women’s Movement in the 70s that Rosie became the face of women empowerment and equality in the workforce. She was already popular across the country and feminists did not have to do anything but assert that the values she stood for, the idea that “We Can Do It”, didn’t stop when our troops returned home. But Rosie, in her original form, is a very simplified form of feminism. She represents the interests of white, middle-class woman who are seeking job equality.

I think we can all agree that feminism is more than that.

The Young Women of Color Leadership Council is a group of young women of color who have made a habit of looking at our issues complexly. We are a reproductive justice advocacy collective, which means we take on the issues of reproductive issues (especially Healthy Relationships, HIV/STI Awareness, Sexual Violence, Contraception Access, and Abortion Rights) and try to address them from all the angles, by educatingour communities and especially women of color about the issues, including them in our movement, and empowering them to make change. We know the importance of nuance.

Which brings us back to #ShadesofRosie: Rosie has already leveled up once before, so it is only fitting that she do so again! WE are the face of feminism and so WE will be the makeover that Rosie the Riveter so desperately needs. All we ask for you to do to get involved is to Facebook/Tweet a picture of you striking the Rosie the Riveter pose!

rosie the riveter

Share with the hashtag #ShadesofRosie and if possible, include a caption of what intersectionality means to you! Throughout the month we will be having a twitter chat and a Google Hangout that will seek to explore intersectionality in-depth. We will be sharing articles and pictures and music that we feel adds to the diversity of the feminist movement, and we ask you to do the same!

One of Feminism’s best qualities is that it challenges society to grow. It demands change. It declares that equality is not and will never be temporary.

The discussion around intersectionality is not going away because WE are not going away. We are vital parts of this movement and we must acknowledge the complexities of our problems. Instead of letting our differences divide us, we must celebrate them together. We are all diverse and special and strong in our own way. We are all different shades of Rosie.

It’s time we share our differences with the world.

Categories: Young People
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In July we asked you to stand with transgender and gender non-conforming students in California. Thanks to your actions Governor Brown heard us LOUD and clear and signed the Student Success and Opportunity Act into law. Together we ensured that transgender students can participate in student activities and facilities that match their gender identity.

Anti- transgender groups attempted to push a referendum that would have repealed this law. The good news is that they lost! On Monday, California Secretary of State confirmed that the referendum didn’t have enough valid signatures to place the measure on the state ballot. Win!

Standing up for equality is not something we do once: we must step up to the plate each time we face oppression. We want to give a huge shout out to the Support All Students Coalition and individual members for their hard work.

Send a tweet to thank GLSEN, GSA Network, Forward Together, Equality California or the Transgender Law Center for their continued work that continues to build equality and supportive environments for all students.

Categories: Transgender Issues
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Hey. Have we met? Never mind, you probably wouldn’t know if we had. My name is Trichomoniasis but I go by Trich. I’m a tiny parasite (not that size matters) and a sexually transmitted infection. I can cause some discharge, a burning sensation, and I can also increase your risk for HIV and other STIs! What can I say, I’m a multitasker.

Problem is, most folks have never heard of me – but that’s cool ‘cause Advocates for Youth and the American Sexual Health Association are working to change that.

Won’t you share out my dating profile on Facebook so folks learn all about me?

Wearing a condom can help keep me away. I’m easy to find with a simple test, and a quick dose of antibiotics will send me packing. I wanted to keep all that on the low, but youth activists with the Great American Condom Campaign are working to raise my profile on their campuses and to ensure that their schools offer testing for trich to students. They also got some pretty sweet materials that have my face all over them, and all my stats.

So share my dating profile, and help get my name out there. Visit my new site to learn more. And if you’re interested in promoting trich awareness on your campus, contact my bro ariel@advocatesforyouth.org.

Laters,
Trich

 

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Advocates is committed to securing the sexual health and rights for all young people domestically and abroad. We’ve worked with youth-led organizations in Nigeria, Uganda and Pakistan to support LGBTQ youth activist councils that advocate for programs and policies to improve youth sexual health. The choir of voices in the international LGBTQ movement is growing, but we need help. Your help.

Help us raise the profile of the needs and rights of international LGBTQ youth, and support youth as leaders to improve LGBTQ health and rights policy by voting for us in the Making All Voices Count Global Innovation Competition!

In too many countries around the globe LGBTQ youth face discrimination that threatens their lives and their access to sexual and reproductive health care.

If we win this competition (and we hope we do), we’ll get the funds necessary to provide training, capacity building, and seed grants to youth-led LGBTQ groups to support their advocacy, public outreach, and mobilization efforts towards advancing LGBTQ youth sexual and reproductive health and rights locally and globally.

Take a moment to vote for us. Currently we’re #106 (out of 196), but with your help we can get to the top!

Thank you. Your support makes our work possible and there is no way we could do it without you.

Urooj Arshad
Advocates for Youth
Associate director, International Youth Health and Rights

Tweet now!With your VOTE you can help @AdvocatesTweets amplify international #LGBTQ voices for human rights! http://bit.ly/1gmLysW

 

tweet-now-toutHelp Advocates for Youth empower international LGBTQ young people to advocate for their own sexual and reproductive health and rights in partnership with local youth-led LGBTW groups. VOTE TODAY! http://bit.ly/1gmLysW

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Whether you need info about condoms yourself or are a peer educator and/or activist looking to get the facts to a friend, Condomology is the place to start.

Condomology is a new initiative from the American Sexual Health Association aimed at ensuring that people have fact-based information in plain, understandable speak that we can all use and share. You’ll find videos, slideshows, charts and other information covering the “ins and outs” of condoms and sexual health.

Check it out, watch the videos, and share the infographic!

Categories: Condoms
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My name is Blessed, and I lead Advocates for Youth’s efforts to help young people fight homophobia and transphobia in Uganda. In too many countries around the globe, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth face discrimination that threatens our lives, dims our spirits and prevents our access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Just this past Friday, the Ugandan parliament passed a terrifying anti-homosexuality bill that will cause further harm to the dignity and safety of LGBT people in my country.

Because of my sexuality, I was kicked out of my home when I was 17. I was homeless for two years while I washed people’s clothes and cars to earn money for my studies. Not too long ago, a mentor helped me find Advocates for Youth and now I have the chance to travel to the U.S. to learn organizing skills that are desperately needed here in Uganda. Now I meet with officials at the State Department and on Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the young people in my country. Now I have found community- all because of Advocates for Youth.

Donate $10 today to help raise $5,000 to support LGBT youth activists like me who are fighting harassment and life-threatening laws around the globe. Donate today and you can be an ally in places like Nigeria, Jamaica and here in Uganda where LGBT youth activists face intimidation, imprisonment or worse.

Advocates for Youth provides training and funding to organizations overseas who bravely keep their doors open to provide support and encouragement to LGBT youth, because it is not safe to be who they are.

Donate today to support youth activists like me who put our lives on the line all year long. Your gift today supports our work and lets us know we are not alone.

With thanks for your activism and support all year long,

Blessed Abrams

Ugandan Activist

Advocates for Youth

 

 

 

Tweet now!#LGBT youth activists face intimidation, imprisonment or worse. Donate $10 to @advocatestweets to help them fight http://bit.ly/18ygFCx

 

 

tweet-now-toutDonate $10 today and you can be an ally in places like Nigeria, Jamaica and Uganda where LGBT youth activists face intimidation, imprisonment or worse. http://bit.ly/18ygFCx

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When I was a junior in high school, I wrote a paper on abortion for health class. It was a whopping 14 pages long. Some of my classmates were weirded-out that I was so into the topic; I got a few negative comments. But my friends and my mom were really supportive. I got an A on the paper :)

I believed then, as I believe now, that a woman should have a choice, and that abortion should be one option provided within comprehensive sexual health services. I also believe that no one has the right to take that choice away, which is why I fought so hard to mobilize my community in Albuquerque to vote against the proposed 20-week ban.

Donate $10 today to help raise $1,500 to cover the cost to train and equip a young activist like me working to fight for the values we all share.

Lucky for me, just a few months prior I joined Advocates’ 1 in 3 Campaign as a campus activist. The skills and training I learned from the Campaign prepared me for the hard fight in Albuquerque. Extremists flooded millions of dollars into my community to pass the ban that would deny women access to legal abortion care. They thought they knew what is “best” for Albuquerque women. They thought they were going to win. They were wrong.

I knew Albuquerque couldn’t let this ban pass. The 1 in 3 Campaign gave me a reason to keep going. I jumped in with get out the vote efforts. I spoke to people on my campus, made phone calls, and even wrote a letter to the editor in my school newspaper. With the help of Advocates and other groups on the ground, the ban was defeated! It was an exciting victory.

I know anti-abortion activists will keep coming up with new ways to deny women. Your $10 donation will help train organizers on the ground nationwide, reach new audiences and mobilize our activists to speak out.

Together we can create a culture of compassion, empathy, and support for access to basic health care.

Alyssa Jackson

1 in 3 Campus Activist

Advocates for Youth

 

 

Tweet now!Anti-abortion activists keep coming up w new ways to deny women. Donate $10 to help @advocatestweets mobilize http://bit.ly/14LfBWg

 

 

tweet-now-toutI know anti-abortion activists will keep coming up with new ways to deny women. Your $10 donation will help train organizers on the ground nationwide, reach new audiences and mobilize our activists to speak out. http://bit.ly/14LfBWg

Categories: Uncategorized
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Here’s a great holiday present for the sexual health nerd in your life: The Scientific Case for Condoms

This slideshow gives the complete rundown on how condoms work, their effectiveness, and what that means for STD and pregnancy prevention. Check it out and share widely!

Unfamiliar with Condomology? You should get familiar! Whether you need info about condoms yourself or are a peer educator and/or activist looking to get the facts to a friend, Condomology is the place to start.

Condomology is a new initiative from the American Sexual Health Association aimed at ensuring that people have fact-based information in plain, understandable speak that we can all use and share. You’ll find videos, slideshows, charts and other information covering the “ins and outs” of condoms and sexual health.

Categories: Condoms
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Last spring, I got a letter from Boston College administration threatening me and my student group BC Students for Sexual Health with disciplinary action for distributing condoms and safer sex information to help my peers prevent STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy.

When our story gained media attention and appeared on CNN, the NY Times and more, conservative activists tried to intimidate me into stopping by personally insulting me. I received a handwritten note calling me an outspoken slut. One news outlet even tracked down my father and harassed him with hurtful phone calls.

Because of the advocacy training and the personal support I received from Advocates for Youth, I was able to turn degrading personal attacks into a progressive victory. We didn’t back down, and BC Students for Sexual Health still operates on campus today, providing lifesaving information and resources to our peers. Will you stand by them and make a $25 donation today?

There are many places across the country where young people’s health and rights are being trampled. But there are also many more young activists like me making a difference in our communities and just need the training, materials and support Advocates for Youth provides.

Please make a $25 donation today. Advocates for Youth uniquely combines the crucial need for better sexual health programs with the hope and the power of youth voices.

Thank you for supporting Advocates, just like they supported me.

Lizzie Jekanowski

Boston College Student Activist

Advocates for Youth

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Exciting news!  Applications to join our Great American Condom Campaign are now open!

The Great American Condom Campaign is a youth-led grassroots movement to reduce unintended pregnancies and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by normalizing condom use on college and university campuses.  Students from across the country apply to become individual condom distribution points–AKA SafeSites– and upon selection receive a box of 500 Trojan condoms to distribute to their peers.  SafeSites are also tasked with educating their peers about safer sex and advocating on campus and within their community for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

This past fall, 1,400 SafeSites distributed more than 700,000 condoms to students on 946 campuses.  SafeSites were established in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Sound like fun? Apply for the GACC NOW!

We receive way more  applications than we can accept, so make sure your application stands out! Be clear about how you will distribute condoms and why you want to be part of the GACC.  To learn more about the GACC and the awesome work of previous SafeSites, go to the GACC Facebook page.

Applications to be a Spring Semester SafeSite are open through December 31st, 2013. It only takes 10 minutes to fill out an application, so start now!

Do it for your country.

 

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Celebrate #GivingTuesday with Advocates’ Y-FAB team! Join the national day of giving, spare $5 if you can to cover the cost of training and equipping a young activist like YOU at Urban Retreat. Check out below what Y-FAB is thankful for.

Eric – I am thankful to be a sexual health/reproductive rights activist because I have an excuse to give condoms to everyone!

Erin – I am thankful that now I can stay on parent’s health insurance until I’m 26; meaning birth control, STD testing, and services that protect my lady parts are now accessible to me. #relieved #win

Renee  – I’m thankful because I have the knowledge to make informed decisions regarding my future

Molly – I’m thankful to be a sexual health/reproductive rights activists because I’m learning how to start real conversations about sexual and reproductive health with my peers.

 Thanks for your donation!

Categories: Uncategorized
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The Trojan™ Sexual Health Report Card is an annual ranking of the sexual health resources and information available to students on campuses nationwide. These schools include students representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Check it out on the Condomology website!

Unfamiliar with Condomology? You should get familiar! Whether you need info about condoms yourself or are a peer educator and/or activist looking to get the facts to a friend, Condomology is the place to start.

Condomology is a new initiative from the American Sexual Health Association aimed at ensuring that people have fact-based information in plain, understandable speak that we can all use and share. You’ll find videos, slideshows, charts and other information covering the “ins and outs” of condoms and sexual health.

They’ve also got a great toolkit from Trojan on helping to improve sexual health on your campus.

Check it out, watch the videos, and share the infographic!

Categories: Condoms
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The holidays are upon us, and for many of us that means:  lots of family time!  And when you’re about that  “activist committed to ensuring young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights” life, the holidays can be….awkward.  But you don’t care, because you’re dedicated and passionate, and that’s what we love about you!

Here are our Top 7 Activist Holiday Moments:

1)  Your mom is getting the giblets out of the turkey and you are like “That reminds me! I wanted to talk to everyone about getting regular gyno exams and pap smears!”

Everyone is like, because giblets. We get it:

snape-is-disappointed (1)

 Try this instead: Scarleteen: What to expect on your first gynecologist visit 

2) They send you to the grocery store for green beans. You come back and say, “I checked the shelves in the pharmacy section and yes! They did have Plan B on the shelves! Finally!”*

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*Also, you forgot the green beans. Great work

Try this instead:  Learn more about emergency contraception at The Emergency Contraception Website

3) The power of organizing! You come to the dinner table with 1,000 signatures demanding urging your mom to stop serving brussel sprouts for dinner!
Your mom is like: 

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You had to try though right

eleven_well

Try this instead: For advice on targeting your efforts for maximum effectiveness, check out Advocates’ Youth Activist’s Toolkit for more organizing tips

 4) Somebody asks why turkey makes you sleepy, and somebody else explains about tryptefan. You take this opportunity to educate folks about trichomoniasis, a lesser-known but still gnarly sexually transmitted disease! 

IW8simF
Try this instead: Learn more about trichomoniasis and how to prevent it 

5) While folks are watching football, you say: “It’s so great that even the NFL is gradually becoming more accepting of LGBT people! Personally I know we as a family would be super accepting of anyone who wanted to come out today! Anyone! Anyone?”

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It’s sweet that you’re so excited

Try this instead: Here are some tips for folks who  want to come out: 
I think I might be Gay / Lesbian / Bisexual / Transgender
…And for those who want to support someone coming out:  PFLAG Coming Out Help for Families, Friends, and Allies

 

6) Your aunt announces that there is pumpkin pie, apple pie, and sweet potato pie for dessert. You say, “OMG! Those would be amazing condom flavors!”


And everyone is like:

shocked-cat-o
But you’re like:

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Try this instead: Sounds like you should join the Great American Condom Campaign! 

7) Everyone ‘round the table says they’re thankful for. You say: I’m thankful for my friends, my family, and my community of amazing youth activists who are working to changing the world!

success
And then it’s time to eat!

appetite

 

 

Shine on, you activist diamonds.  Best holiday wishes to you and yours!

Categories: Uncategorized
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(original photo and post by GLAAD)

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This year, the day is November 20th, 2013.

Find a vigil near you!
Visit www.transgenderdor.org or  www.hrc/tdor for the complete list of events happening in your city. The list of people in 2013

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The 2014 National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador application is now open! Every year we mark April 10, as a day to educate and empower the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic.

Now is your chance to join a dynamic group of young leaders and activists who come together to promote treatment, care, and youth empowerment.

“NYHAAD is an important day for youth to stand up, bring awareness and make our voices heard!” – Kimberly, 2013 NYHAAD Ambassador

Now is our time. NYHAAD ambassadors hold events in their campuses and communities, promote NYHAAD through social media, art, blogs and videos and will collaborate with other Ambassadors and Advocates staff on materials and resources to make NYHAAD known throughout the country!

Adults – please share this with two fantastic young people in your community!

The application deadline is November 8, 2014. Apply now!

Categories: HIV
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Keziyah, a youth activist with YouthResource, has written an amazing op-ed for The Advocate, on the harassment of transgender young people by anti-trans activists:

“In other words, the Pacific Justice Institute, international media outlets that carried the story sans fact checking, and antitrans people who have outed her and called for her death are essentially engaging in large-scale bullying.”

Check it out!

Categories: Uncategorized
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Whether you need info about condoms yourself or are a peer educator and/or activist looking to get the facts to a friend, Condomology is the place to start.

Check out their great videos:

A How-To Guide for Getting It On
How Latex Condoms Are Made
A History of Condoms

Condomology is a new initiative from the American Sexual Health Association aimed at ensuring that people have fact-based information in plain, understandable speak that we can all use and share. You’ll find videos, slideshows, charts and other information covering the “ins and outs” of condoms and sexual health.

Check it out, watch the videos, and share the infographic!

Categories: Condoms
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Young people deserve quality, affordable health care. And by signing health care reform into law 2010, the government took a big step in making that a reality. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits young adults by letting them stay on their parents’ health plans longer, by making it easier and cheaper to get health insurance of their own, and by providing no-cost preventative care, including important sexual and reproductive health services. Now that enrollment is under way, young people have more power to get and stay healthy.

First, the new healthcare law gives you the option of staying on a parent’s health plan until you are 26. This provision has already resulted in real gains in health coverage among people between 19-25 years of age, helping them both get and keep insurance. Before the ACA, lots of young adults experienced a gap in coverage between leaving school and getting a job with healthcare benefits. The ACA goes a long way in addressing that gap.

Next, if you are not covered under your parents’ health plan or through work, it is now cheaper and easier to get your own health insurance. First, the new health care law makes coverage more affordable. The ACA allows states to expand Medicaid to cover more individuals. That means many people who previously earned too high an income to obtain very affordable government health insurance through Medicaid will be eligible soon, depending on the state where they live. The ACA further limits the cost of private health plans for people making less than about $46,000. Finally, the ACA makes the actual process of buying insurance easier by creating a new online marketplace where people can compare and buy plans that suit their own needs.

Once you are covered, you no longer have to pay anything for many preventative health care services that young people actually need, including sexual and reproductive health services. The ACA fully covers a list of approved preventative services, including STI/HIV screening and counseling, contraceptive and family planning care, services for pregnant and nursing women, substance abuse and mental health services, immunizations, and more. No co-pays. No cost-sharing. Plans must cover the entire cost of these services. And because young people face unique risks when it comes to unintended pregnancy, STI/HIV, and mental health and substance abuse issues, this is a real benefit.

Ready to get started? Here are some more resources that will give you additional information about the law’s benefits, the process of applying, comparing plans, and enrolling.

  • HealthCare.Gov: The federal government’s website. Contains information about your options under the new law and its benefits, including a section about young adults.
  • Young Invincibles: Providing information focused on young people under the ACA.
  • Raising Women’s Voices: Detailed information about women under the ACA, including a factsheet on its benefits for young women.
  • Out2Enroll: Website opening October 11 (National Coming Out Day). Provides information on LGBT individuals’ options under the ACA.

Categories: Health Care
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(Image reposted from Amplify Facebook – click here for more)

Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier.  Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound.  We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share.  We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world.  All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives.  But we celebrated our diversity.  And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.

I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first.  I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend.  It was a place I had never been to on my own.  I would be surrounded by strangers.  But these strangers quickly became my friends.  And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them.  And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well.  Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders.  And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives.  It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.

I even got to meet Janet Mock!  We talked and had dinner.  She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!

It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice.  And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource.  Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan.  I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore.  The realization was bittersweet.  But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.

 

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condomologyinfographic

Whether you need info about condoms yourself or are a peer educator and/or activist looking to get the facts to a friend, Condomology is the place to start.

Condomology is a new initiative from the American Sexual Health Association aimed at ensuring that people have fact-based information in plain, understandable speak that we can all use and share. You’ll find videos, slideshows, charts and other information covering the “ins and outs” of condoms and sexual health.

Check it out, watch the videos, and share the infographic!

Categories: Condoms
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Each year over 120 youth activists gather in Washington, D.C. to share expertise with one another and Advocates for Youth staff; learn about the latest findings and legislation that affect reproductive health; participate in trainings; and make a commitment to be lifelong advocates for young people’s reproductive and sexual health and rights. Then they head to Capitol Hill to educate their representatives on why comprehensive sexual health education is so important for young people.

Thank you to our coalition partners for sponsoring Advocates for Youth’s 14th annual Urban Retreat!

Ally Level:

ANSIRH | Human Rights CampaignNational Latina Institute for Reproductive JusticeReligious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Champion Level:

IPAS | NARAL Pro-Choice New York

Hero Level:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

 

This year, the groups attending the Urban Retreat include:


1 in 3 Organizers. These college students attend a special pre-conference where they will learn how to support abortion rights through sharing women’s stories.

State Youth Activist Councils from Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, and Texas. Working with partner organizations, these groups of young people will motivate for comprehensive sex education and other important youth rights at the state and community level.

Campus Organizers. These students at colleges and universities organize their fellow college students to work for youth reproductive and sexual health and rights.

International Youth Speak Out:   This project consists of young people and youth-led NGOs in low and middle income countries, advocating for programs and policies that will improve youth reproductive and sexual health in their countries and internationally.

International GLBT Health and Rights advocates work for the rights of LGBT people in their home countries.

International Youth Leadership Council members are US-based college students who advocate on behalf of young people in low and middle income countries.

Young Men’s Project members are young male leaders and activists who seek to engage and mobilize their peers on issues related to sexual and reproductive health.

Young Women of Color Leadership Council members advocate for HIV prevention and reproductive justice and the inclusion of young women of color in prevention programs.

YouthResource members advocate for LGBT rights in their communities and provide peer education and support to LGBT young people.

It’s a diverse gathering, but these young people all have one thing in common: they are fierce, motivated activists working hard to make youth voices heard!

 

Categories: Uncategorized
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INTLSexEd

Last week, we told you about young people gathering signatures in support of sex education, and asked you to support their efforts. And because you’re awesome, you came through: on October 1 youth activists will deliver over 4,000 signatures to Congress! Now we need your help again.

Sign a petition asking Secretary of State John Kerry to support international LGBT Rights.

Joining us at this year’s Urban Retreat youth activism conference, are youth participants from Uganda, Nigeria, Nepal, Jamaica, Cameroon, and Liberia. They too have been hard at work organizing – in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth around the world.

We’ve all seen and read about the continuation of violence and harassment targeting LGBT people across the globe. In countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Russia, laws force young people to choose between concealing who they are, and going to jail. While in Cameroon and Jamaica, violence has saddened and shaken the LGBT community.

These recent events highlight the need for a commitment by the State Department to ensure that all young people, especially those marginalized for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, are treated with human dignity and respect.

Advocates’ global youth activists are calling out for Sec. Kerry to publicly condemn anti-LGBT violence and discrimination around the world, and to ensure LGBT inclusion in U.S. foreign assistance and education programs.

Add your name to the petition that will be delivered to Sec. Kerry.

The United States can make a real difference in how LGBT youth around the world are treated. Show your support for youth activists around the world and sign now.

Tweet now!I stand in solidarity with global #LGBT youth! Help us in getting Sec. Kerry to join us. Sign now: http://bit.ly/16NiB83 #UR2013

 

tweet-now-toutI want a world where every LGBT young person can realize their full potential and right to lead a healthy, empowered, educated, and safe life. If you do too, sign here: http://bit.ly/16NiB83 #UR2013

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Going back to school is awesome. It’s a time to reconnect with friends, and look forward to joining a team, being in the school play and going to dances. But going back to school can be stressful, and even unsafe, for transgender and gender non-conforming students who aren’t sure if their peers will support them.

80% of transgender students say they feel unsafe at school. Let’s change that.

Take a selfie with one of these signs to show your friends that all students matter and have the right to feel safe at school. Send your pic to advocatescomms@gmail.com, and share it on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Instagram – everywhere! We’ll be sharing your photos to show trans students we stand with them, and to show schools that advocates for trans student rights won’t back down.

In partnership with Gay-Straight Alliance Network, GLSEN, National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Advocates for Youth has written an Open Letter to school districts urging them to create safe spaces and supportive environments for young people.

Let’s make going back to school better for everyone. Take and share a pic right now.

Tweet now!Going back 2 school shouldn’t be scary. I showed my support for #trans student, bc all students matter. U can too: http://bit.ly/16Lo0qn

 

tweet-now-tout80% of #trans students feel unsafe in school. Let’s change that. Show your support for all students: http://bit.ly/16Lo0qn

Categories: Transgender Issues
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Every August 12, the world celebrates International Youth Day.  This year’s theme is “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward.” As advocates dedicated to advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people, you might be asking, what’s migration got to do with SRHR?  Well, just about everything.

Nearly half of the world’s population—more than 3 billion people—is under the age of 25. Furthermore, young people under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, young women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion.  Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health services.  As a result, ensuring that young migrants have access to SRHR information and services as well as the full protection and promotion of their human rights is absolutely critical.

As the largest donor of foreign assistance, the United States government plays a unique role in delivering global health programs around the world.  That’s why this Monday at 9:30am EST, the State Department’s Special Advisor for Global Youth Issues, Zeenat Rahman, will be hosting a Google Hangout with other US government officials to discuss this year’s International Youth Day theme.  As the US government’s lead spokesperson on youth issues, Ms. Rahman is a key stakeholder in ensuring that the US prioritizes youth policies and programs throughout the government’s work.  To date, the Office of Global Youth Issues has focused almost exclusively on youth employment and civic engagement.  While vitally important priorities, what is so often overlooked is how adolescent and youth SRHR contributes to one’s ability to seek and maintain employment and meaningfully engage in the democratic process.  Regardless of where we live, we all have the right to speak up and hold our government officials accountable for providing young people with ALL the resources they need to lead healthy and successful lives, including rights-based, comprehensive, integrated, and youth-friendly information and services.

So, what can you do to celebrate International Youth Day? TONS! Here’s just a sampling of ideas.  Get creative!  And share your ideas and enthusiasm with your friends and colleagues.

  • Participate in the State Department’s Google Hangout on Monday at 9:30am EST and submit a question (or 2 or 3!) via Twitter using #IYD2013 asking what the US is currently doing to support young people’s SRHR needs, your ideas for how and why they should be doing more, etc.
  • Watch the United Nations’ celebration of International Youth Day live Monday from 10:00-13:30 EST.
  • Use the sample tweets and Facebook status updates below to raise awareness among your peers and followers about the importance of young people’s SRHR.
  • Host a community event, forum, or campaign in support of young people’s SRHR.
  • Engage with coalitions or organizations working in your community to advance young people’s rights and well-being.
  • Request a meeting with community leaders and/or decision-makers to inform them about the importance of investing in young people and ensuring that they have the information and services to lead healthy lives.
  • Blog on Advocates’ youth activist website, www.amplifyyourvoice.org, and write about why you think International Youth Day is important, how you and your peers are making a difference in your community, or what you think policymakers and leaders need to be doing to support young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in your country.

Twitter Targets: Use these twitter handles, as appropriate, to send tweets from the list below

  • @UN4Youth
  • UN Youth Envoy – @AhmadAlhendawi
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon- @secgen
  • US Mission to the UN – @USUN
  • Secretary of State Kerry – @JohnKerry; @StateDept
  • US Ambassador to UN, Samantha Power – @AmbassadorPower
  • Your own country’s UN representatives
  • Your own country’s Foreign Minister

Sample Twitter Messages:

  • Gov’ts must include youth in design, monitoring & evaluation of youth development programs #IYD2013
  • We must engage boys & men to help girls & women promote gender equality #IYD2013
  • Invest in the whole girl w/ approaches that address sexual and reproductive health, education, livelihoods, and civic engagement #IYD2013
  • Gov’ts must implement comprehensive sexuality education programs and policies for adolescents and youth #IYD2013
  • Gov’ts must increase funding 4 family planning 4 married and unmarried adolescent girls #IYD2013
  • Sexual & #reprorights are #humanrights: #post2015 agenda must include access to contraception, abortion & safe maternity care #IYD2013
  • Empowering women and girls is key to achieving peace & security in #post2015 agenda #IYD2013
  • More than ½ world’s population is under 25; young people must drive #Post2015 agenda #IYD2013
  • Gov’ts must prioritize support 4 adolescents so we can prevent #childmarriage, maternal mortality, #GBV #IYD2013
  • Girls who stay in school have better sexual and repro health outcomes. #Education is a human right. #IYD2013
  • Development programs must address violence against adolescent girls, including intimate partner violence #GBV #VAWG #IPV #IYD2013

Sample Facebook Posts:

  • Today is International Youth Day. Youth are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic, accounting for 41% of all new HIV infections worldwide.  Reaching young people with evidence-based HIV prevention approaches before and after they are sexually active ensures their right to health and prevents HIV infections today and for the next generation.

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GDPA

Start the school year off right: apply to become a Great American Condom Campaign SafeSite and receive 500 Trojan condoms to help finally make condoms normal on your college campus.

The Great American Condom Campaign is a youth-led, grassroots movement that will make the U.S. a sexually healthy nation one campus at a time. Each year, GACC members give out one million Trojan Brand condoms on college campuses across the country to educate their peers about sexual health, and organize to improve the policies that affect young people’s health and lives.

In the words of one of the SafeSites:

I HEART:

  • being a SAFESITE
  • being a source of condoms
  • informing my peers about safe sex
  • talking openly about sex & sexual health
  • getting random late night calls for condoms
  • changing the world!!

Applications for Fall semester close August 31st at Midnight. It takes just 10 minutes to fill out an application, so start right now!

Do it for your country.

Tweet now!Apply 2 the Great American Condom Campaign & @AdvocatesTweets & #Trojan will send u 500 condoms 2 handout on campus! http://bit.ly/12G8Xmr

 

tweet-now-toutAre you ready to join the Great American Condom Campaign? Apply today and Advocates for Youth and Trojan will send you 500 condoms to hand out on your campus so we can FINALLY get over our hang-ups about condoms. Do it for your country! http://bit.ly/12G8Xmr

Categories: Condoms
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RemovetheGag

Before President Obama took office, foreign non-governmental organizations receiving international family planning funds couldn’t answer women’s questions about abortion. They couldn’t provide abortions, refer women to abortion providers, or advocate for safe abortion care in their communities and their countries – even using their own funds.

It was called the Global Gag Rule. And it could come back at any time unless we take action today.

Ask your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Global Democracy Promotion Act to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.

The Global Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA), introduced today by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and over 114 of her colleagues, protects foreign assistance programs from politicized restrictions, especially the Global Gag Rule. This legislation accompanies a parallel bill in the Senate introduced earlier this year by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

The Global Gag Rule endangers women’s health. It forces organizations to make a choice: refuse to answer women’s questions about abortion, or lose funding. The end result is that some of the most effective and experienced providers and clinics are forced to close, often dismantling the only health services available in a community. Not only is this policy dangerous to women’s health and lives, it also violates our own democratic principles of free speech and open debate by silencing advocates who wish to reform their own national abortion laws.

Since 1984, the Global Gag Rule has ridden a merry-go-round of being rescinded and reinstated in accordance with each new President’s priorities. President Obama rescinded it in 2009 – but any new President could reinstate it. The personal decisions a woman makes with her doctor shouldn’t depend on whoever happens to occupy the White House at any given time.

Contact your Members of Congress today and ask them to co-sponsor the Global Democracy Promotion Act.

Categories: Abortion
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Across the country — in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and too many other states — access to safe abortion care is vanishing before our eyes because of unnecessary and burdensome restrictions.

How can we keep up our commitment to women’s health, even as far right politicians force more and more anti-abortion bills through state legislatures?

We do it by changing the culture of shame and stigma around abortion. We do it by sharing stories and by speaking up in support of women.

Share your story with the 1 in 3 Campaign today.

Whether you have a personal experience with abortion, or want to share why you support women’s access to care, you can speak out with 1 in 3.

Be a part of creating a culture of compassion, empathy, and support for access to basic health care.

Categories: Abortion
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Today, you are our heroes.

You stared down a bullying legislature that had repeatedly shown it would stop at nothing to pass a sweeping abortion restriction bill that would endanger millions of women’s health and lives.

And you didn’t flinch.

Senator Davis, your filibuster was among the most courageous acts  we have ever seen by a legislator. Following the rules of the Senate, you stood for over 11 hours, with no food or drink,  barred even from leaning, and shared women’s real stories of their experiences with abortion – stories that had previously been ruled “too repetitive” by the legislature.

After 2 trumped-up warnings, they finally shut you down after 11 hours on false charges of going off topic.

And then the people took over.

The hundreds of activists who had filled the chamber for days would not be silenced.  From all over the state, you had been watching since Thursday as Republicans attempted to ramrod SB-5 through the special session.

Your cheers and shouts delayed the session, and the bill was unable to pass before midnight.

Thank you, Senator Davis and the People’s Filibuster , for your courage and your leadership.  You showed that the people of Texas won’t stand for attacks on women’s health.  Today, you inspire us to keep fighting.    You weren’t silenced and we won’t be either.

To the women of Texas and to the 1 in 3 women who will need an abortion in her lifetime:  we’ve got your back!

Categories: Abortion
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This weekend in Texas, hundreds of protestors packed into the Texas State House Capitol to protest SB-5, an omnibus anti-choice bill that would shut down all but five abortion clinics in the state, ban abortions after 20 weeks, and make medical abortions all but impossible to prescribe or obtain legally.

The Texas legislature insulted and then ignored them.

House Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook barred hundreds of women from sharing their real experiences, saying the public testimony was becoming “repetitive.” In the course of forcing this bill through, the legislature suspended rules, restricted testimony, and now Senator David Dewhurst is trying to do the same tonight.

Join protestors at the State House in Austin now. Or call your Senator RIGHT NOW, share your story, and tell them to vote AGAINST SB-5. (512) 402-8385

The bill still has to get through the Senate, and Democrats have promised a filibuster. There’s still time to stop this bill in the next 24 hours.

1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Limiting access hurts all Texans. Call your State Senator at (512) 402-8385 and speak out against SB-5 right now.

Categories: Abortion
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condomologyinfographic

Whether you need info about condoms yourself or are a peer educator and/or activist looking to get the facts to a friend, Condomology is the place to start.

Condomology is a new initiative from the American Sexual Health Association aimed at ensuring that people have fact-based information in plain, understandable speak that we can all use and share. You’ll find videos, slideshows, charts and other information covering the “ins and outs” of condoms and sexual health.

Check it out, watch the videos, and share the infographic!

Categories: Condoms
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It’s Week 10, the last week of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

How can you get involved?

  • Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
    • #SecKerry @statedept The case for investing in women&girls has been made. Act NOW to improve the status of women&girls #usa4women #use4girls
    • “All it takes is for [girls] to have a fighting chance.” -H. @ClintonNews. #SecKerry @StateDept #usa4girls http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/clinton-speaks-up-for-womens-issues/
  • Share this Facebook post:

“In the last 50 days, we’ve provided a blueprint for U.S. government agencies to lead the charge for women and girls. It’s time to act!

During our 50 Days of Action campaign we’ve made the case that U.S. foreign policy must address the needs of women and girls around the world. We’re looking for U.S. government agencies to act now to ensure these needs are met.

White House, State Department, USAID: We’re looking for cross-agency collaboration between to act on an agenda that prioritizes women and girls.”

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BREAKING:  Lawmakers have solved all of the United States’ problems through legislation.   Now they have time to devote to dangerous, blatantly unconstitutional bills that they know have no chance of becoming law!

That’s what you’d think is going on anyway.  Congress yesterday passed a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks.

They know that Roe v. Wade ensures women the right to an abortion to the point of viability, without a specified time limit.

They know that just a month ago a federal court struck down Arizona’s 20-week ban.

And they know that this bill is doomed to fail in the Senate.

But since they were bored (I guess?), they went ahead with it anyway.

Anti-abortion activists brought their usual common sense and intellectual rigor to the debate, with the bill’s sponsor Trent Franks arguing against allowing an exception for rape and incest on the grounds that that doesn’t happen; and with Michael Burgess (R-Texas) claiming that abortion is wrong because male fetuses masturbate.

Meanwhile, within a few hours, a thousand of you signed a petition urging Congress to drop the bill.    Many of you observed in comments that the bill was unconstitutional.  Others mentioned the danger barriers to access pose to women.  Some called the bill “using women’s bodies to further a political agenda,”  “an embarrassment,” “a waste of time and money,” and “a violation of women’s rights.”

Congress replied,

funny-pictures-beaver-cant-hear-you

 

Here’s a short list of the stuff Congress totes fixed before they took up the 20-week ban:   

– LGBT discrimination

– Sexual assault in the military and on college campuses

– Deadly gun violence

– A little thing called The Economy.

….Wait no.  I meant:  A short list of things they still haven’t managed to fix, which still cry out for their attention, which are receiving widespread media attention and which millions of Americans care about.  That kind of stuff.  I guess they’ll work on it when they have time.

Categories: Abortion
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On Tuesday, over 100 activists gathered together in DC\’s Dupont Circle to honor Beatriz and all women who have experienced abortion at a vigil hosted by Advocates for Youth, IpasReligious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), and The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

The vigil began with a prayer from the Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO of RCRC.  “We are comforted in knowing that justice was finally accomplished and that the life of this blessed woman was spared. We give thanks that you see Beatriz, and other women in similar circumstances, not just in El Salvador but around the world.”

Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth, then shared remarks.

“For months Beatriz was denied the care that could save her life.  Her story is her own but it is also ours.  We are Beatriz.  We are also the teen in Jackson, Miss., forced to obtain permission from an abusive parent who denies it; the middle-aged mother in El Paso, Tex., with so few resources she can’t scrape together enough money to end her pregnancy but can\’t fathom how she can possibly support another child; the couple in Salt Lake City, Utah, forced to endure a barrage of falsehoods about the \”side-effects” of abortion and made to wait three days in a roadside motel before being permitted to return to the clinic for the procedure; the young girl in Lancaster, PA afraid to tell her parents she is pregnant and who instead gives birth in a high school bathroom. We are 1 in 3.\”

Readers stepped forward to share women\’s real stories of abortion from the 1 in 3 Campaign.  Each story was different, and each was important to understanding women\’s real experiences with abortion.

The vigil closed with remarks from Jessica Gonzales-Rojas, ED, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  Jessica reminded people of the deadly cost of policies like the Hyde amendment and the El Salvador restrictions.

Although anti-abortion protestors attempted to disrupt the vigil, activists stood together in solidarity for Beatriz and women like her.  We are 1 in 3!

Watch video of the vigil (program begins at minute 6:30)

Read the Huffington Post editorial by leaders of the vigil

Check out pics of the event

Categories: Abortion
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It’s Week 9 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

How can you get involved?

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june11-beatriz-vigil-6

Beatriz is a 22-year-old woman, a mother of a one-year-old son, who is facing severe health consequences because she was denied access to abortion care for weeks. She is not alone. Women in this country and across the globe face unnecessary and burdensome barriers to basic medical care, jeopardizing their health and their lives.

Join Advocates for Youth, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health on June 11 at 11:30am to stand in solidarity with Beatriz and with women across the world.

R.S.V.P Here 

Categories: Abortion
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It’s Week 8 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

How can you get involved?

  • Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
    • Girls in dev. countries need property & inheritance rights & livelihood skills 2 contribute 2 local economies. @USAID #globaldev #usa4girls
    • Prevent violence against women & girls, which hinders their ability to thrive, violates their #humanrights. #usa4girls #gbv #vaw
  • Check out this resource: Report: Chicago Council on Global Affairs: Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies
  • Share this image!clinton

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Are you interested in or already pursuing a career in the non-profit sector? Do you volunteer with non-profit organizations and want to take on a leadership role? Want to learn fundraising skills but not sure where to start?

Advocates for Youth is accepting applications until June 30, 2013 for its Youth Fundraising Advisory Board (Y-FAB)!

Elizabeth, a 24 year old Y-FAB alum, says: The cool thing about the program is that it carves out this space for Millennials to practice philanthropy. Theoretically, anyone could raise funds for an organization, but without leadership, support, and resources, it takes a lot to do it on your own. Advocates providing all of that is what makes Y-FAB so great. It has the potential to evolve into a powerful fundraising and organizing tool…

20 applicants will be selected to join Y-FAB – a select group of young people interested in learning the essentials of fundraising.  Knowledge and skills in fundraising are vital for leaders of the non-profit sector.  Y-FAB gives you the opportunity to work as part of a team in a virtual learning environment towards a joint fundraising goal to test and improve your fundraising skills.

Don’t have any fundraising experience? No problem, no experience required! Members are selected to serve a one-year term from August 2013 to May 2013. Through Y-FAB you will receive fundraising skills training, ongoing coaching, resources to help with fundraising efforts, and networking opportunities with other youth leaders and nonprofit professionals.

Applications are due June 30th, 2013. Apply now!

 

Categories: Young People
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Tomorrow, the HUB network premieres the first episode of it’s new cartoon series, SheZow. The show, focused on a young boy who transforms into a female superhero has, unsurprisingly, drawn a lot of criticism, concern and outrage from some who feel that it might somehow convince young kids to become Trans*. While this is obviously ridiculous, I still have my apprehensions before we declare this a win for the LGBTQ community and reproductive justice as a whole.

In discussing this with my mom, she pointed out the distinct difference between Guy and his female alter-ego, SheZow. Guy is, well, a guy; the creators went so far as to name him that as to affirm his masculinity and make sure he is as far on the male side of the gender binary as possible. Guy plays video games, skateboards, and wears a baggy T-shirt and cargo shorts. Meanwhile, SheZow is on the complete opposite side of the binary. All of her gadgets are pink, she wears eyeliner and eye-shadow, and her costume is a pink leopard-print catsuit. Though this is not abnormal of children’s television, the fact that the show appears to adhere strictly to the binary and uphold established constructs of gender doesn’t sit right with me.

I’m also concerned as to how this show might represent Trans* issues. I’m concerned not about “exposing” children to the concept of what it means to be Trans*, rather how children are being exposed to it. I admit, I don’t have a lot of faith in the media, and I’m concerned that the show might trivialize or misrepresent Trans* issues, causing kids and teens who are beginning to question their gender identity to feel even more uncomfortable.

The show hasn’t premiered yet, and I could be wrong, and hopefully I am. But for now, I think we need to hold off before we definitively call this a victory.

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Beatriz_emailgraphicedit

Just yesterday, the Supreme Court of El Salvador handed a young woman a death sentence by denying Beatriz “permission” for an abortion needed to save her life.

Beatriz is 22. The mother of a 1-year old boy. She has lupus. Kidney malfunction. And her doctors say she will likely die if the pregnancy continues. But, there is still hope for Beatriz.

Beatriz needs your help.

(more…)

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UPDATE: Many of you signed the petition, sent out tweets and posted FB comments, and we’re happy to report your activism has paid off. Facebook has agreed to remove content that condones and encourages violence and hate speech against women. They’ve acknowledged the problem and are taking steps to fix it. Let’s see that they do.

Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of injury for women between the ages of 15 and 44, more then rape, muggings, and car accidents combined. Nearly 1 in 4 women experience at least 1 physical assault from a partner during adulthood. That works out to roughly 3-4 million women a year.

May 24 – Advocates for Youth has signed on to a letter asking Facebook to stop hosting groups, pages, and images with graphically violent attacks on women.  Facebook has banned other hate speech and should ban gender-based hate speech.

In a world in which hundreds of thousands of women are assaulted daily and where intimate partner violence  remains one of the leading causes of death for women around the world, it is not possible to sit on the fence.  We call on Facebook to make the only responsible decision and take swift, clear action on this issue, to bring your policy on rape and domestic violence into line with your own moderation goals and guidelines.

Please share, and call on Facebook’s advertisers to support this action!

 

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It’s Week 7 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

How can you get involved?

  • Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets: 
    • @deptofdefense @statedept: Empower women 2 b agents of peace, not victims of war. Support women’s groups in conflict zones. #usa4women 
    • Ending violence against women & girls key to achieving global peace. #JohnKerry make this a @StateDept priority #usa4girls #usa4women #vaw
  • Watch and share this video:   Peace Unveiled tells the story of three Afghan women who worked to preserve women’s rights during the U.S.’s peace negotiations with the Taliban. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/full-episodes/peace-unveiled/

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When Tania became pregnant unexpectedly, she decided to have an abortion. She found that when she told people about the experience, they often reacted negatively, even judging her and calling her a bad person. So she remained silent for years. But now she is speaking out – and joining hundreds of other women who have shared their stories with the 1 in 3 Campaign in an effort to break the silence, end the shame, and change the conversation around abortion.

Join Tania: share this story on Facebook today.

By sharing these stories we can lift the stigma from abortion and help ensure that all women have access to safe abortion care. Share Tania’s story.

Categories: Abortion
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It’s Week 6 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

How can you get involved?

  • Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets: 
    • #SecKerry @statedept @usaid Approx. 14 mill. girls are married every year before they turn 18. #endchildmarriage #usa4girls #usa4women
    • #SecKerry @statedept @usaid: Child brides are more vulnerable to #HIV #STI. US foreign policy must address early/forced marriage #usa4girls #endchildmarriage
  • Join a Hangout hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Girls Not Brides, and the International Women’s Health Coalition will take place on May 24 at 11:00 AM EDT (watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/girlsnotbrides). 
  • Share this infographic!  http://girlsglobe.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/infographic_education.pdf
  • Watch and share this video on child brides:

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The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policy makers, opinion leaders, social movements, public opinion, the media etc. to this issue and to promote a world of tolerance, respect and freedom, diversity and acceptance regardless of people’s sexual orientation and gender identity. As much as it is a day against violence and oppression, it is a day of freedom, diversity and acceptance. The day of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the decision taken by the World Health Organization in 1990 to take homosexuality out of the list of mental disorders. The last report on State Sponsored Homophobia that the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association (ILGA) released in 2012, confirms the total number of countries in the world with a legislation persecuting people on the basis of their sexual orientation at 78. Furthermore, according to Preliminary findings of the ILGA report on mapping the legal situation of transgender people worldwide (February 2012) “the main finding is that in the majority of countries the procedure for gender recognition for transgender individuals is unclear or does not exist. Transgender people are left to seek gender recognition through expensive court procedures or invasive medical procedures conducted often by individuals who have little knowledge about transgender people’s experiences.”

The idea behind IDAHOT is to create a global understanding for the rights to express gender freedom and to engage in same-sex relationships without one specific form of expression or even one central policy agenda. The IDAHOT is about unity in spirit and diversity in expressions.

The Day creates an opportunity for all to:

  • Draw media attention to the issue of homophobia and      transphobia
  • To organize events which mobilize public opinion
  • To engage in lobbying activities
  • To organize joint campaigning actions
  • To network with like-minded organizations
  • To develop new partnerships
  • To address new constituencies

Want to get involved?  Advocates for Youth is hosting a blogathon from May 15 thru the 17 on www.amplifyyourvoice.org Write a blog and tag International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to raise awareness and build solidarity with activists around the world!

To find out more about the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, click here.

To like IDAHOT on Facebook, click here.

To read more about LGBT rights in the Caribbean, click here: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/component/content/article/1762-overlooked-and-at-risk

To check out Advocate for Youth’s pamphlet series for youth, “I think I Might Be..,” click on the links below:
http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/gay.pdf

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/lesbian.pdf

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/bisexual.pdf

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/storage/advfy/documents/transgender.pdf

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In this week’s Time Magazine, Joel Stein took a look at the Millennial generation – and said that Millennials are “inactive” and “lack passion.”  Advocates’ President Debra Hauser wrote this open letter to Joel informing him otherwise!

Regarding your cover story, “The Me, Me, Me Generation”:  We’re thrilled that Joel Stein took some time to get to know the Millennial generation, and that he recognizes their potential for greatness.  But we were surprised and saddened by his assessment that Millennials are inactive and lack passion.  We work with Millennial activists in all 50 states, on hundreds of college campuses, and in dozens of communities in the United States and around the world.  Every day, we are inspired by their dedication and willingness to be the source of positive change: from campus activists in Texas who registered thousands of voters for the 2012 presidential election; to Eriauna, a young woman who bravely stands outside a Kentucky women’s clinic every week defending women’s right to access abortion care; to Chelsea and Lizzie, who rightfully defied their college’s order to stop distributing condoms on their campus.  These young people are not exceptions, they are our future. We are so proud of the change they’re making, right now, in their communities and can only marvel at what else they will do.

But don’t take our word for it: we invite Joel Stein to meet and talk with these activists at our annual youth conference.  After seeing the energy and passion they bring to that event, no one can continue to believe that this generation is “inactive.”  Joel, using a tablet and an iPhone at once is no way to get to know Millennials.  Let’s judge them on their work, instead.

 

Sincerely,

Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth

Categories: Young People
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It’s Week 4 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

This week we’re focused on preventing violence against women and girls.

How can you get involved?

  • Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets:
    • To #EndVAW worldwide, @StateDept & @USAID shld support programs that promote genderequality & empower women & girls #usa4women
    • @StateDept:Demonstrate commitment to ending #VAWby implementing the US Strategy to Prevent & Respond to GBV Globally! #USA4Wome
  • Check out Advocates factsheet, The Facts: Gender Inequality and Violence Against Women and Girls Around the World
  • Share this infographic!

vaw_international

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by Kate Stewart, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs

When I wrote about access to emergency contraception a year and a half ago, the Obama Administration had just overruled the FDA’s ruling that would have made Plan B available over the counter, without age restriction or ID requirements. With loaded remarks about “bubble gum and batteries,” the President had decided that Plan B had to remain locked up, accessible only to those who can prove they are 17 or older.

Since then the Administration’s decision-making has gone from bad to worse, continuing to allow politics to trump the health and well-being of young women. The events of this Spring and the moves by the Administration are truly mind-boggling.

First, in early April of this year, we all hailed a judge’s ruling that emergency contraception must be made available on store shelves within 30 days with no age or identification requirements. We thought – finally! – the decade long battle over emergency contraception has come to a close, and now young women and their partners will have access to back-up birth control without unnecessary and burdensome restrictions.

Not so fast. Earlier this week, the FDA, in a downgrade of its own 2011 ruling, announced that Plan B was approved for those with ID who could prove they were fifteen or older. Not so great.

Then last night, the Justice Department announced that it would appeal the judge’s April decision on emergency contraception being available over the counter with no age restrictions.

Never mind the absurdity of the picture the White House paints of a child buying a $50 pregnancy prevention medication from the drugstore, or that that same drugstore sells thousands of non-age-regulated chemicals and medicines which cost far less and pose far more danger to someone who uses them incorrectly. Never mind that science has shown that young people are capable of assessing when they need emergency contraception and using it appropriately (according to the FDA’s own 2011 ruling and to what its scientific staff have been recommending since 2004). And that the medical community supports making emergency contraception available with no age restriction.

The political machinations are dizzying. But forgotten are the real victims of this shell game: young women who need emergency contraception, for whom there is now one more barrier to preventing unintended pregnancy.

Many teens do not have picture ID of any kind. Some look very young into their late teens and twenties. And some, like undocumented immigrants,cannot get ID. Should these young people be barred from preventing pregnancies they did not intend and do not want?

When a young person has experienced contraceptive failure, or been sexually assaulted, the decisions they make in the next couple of days are crucial. When they decide that preventing pregnancy is a priority, they deserve support in that decision, not roadblocks created to protect politicians.

As I wrote in 2011, a part of me can understand that President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that young teens may need emergency contraception. That worries me too. But, rather than deny them access to a fully safe medication that could help prevent unintended pregnancy, perhaps we should be doubling down on comprehensive sex education — and expanding access to contraception in the first place — so that fewer of our daughters ever need Plan B at all. But, for those young women who do, we still have a responsibility to make sure that any woman who needs emergency contraception has access to it when they need it.

Moms and Dads, Aunts and Uncles, we can help by keeping on hand emergency contraception in the family medicine cabinet (where a worried teen can access it without being carded). And we can help by continuing to raise our voices in protest at the now decade-long farce surrounding this safe, essential medication moves into the next phase. Once again I find myself disappointed, angry and scared about the direction we are going in this country when it comes to access to basic health care for women. But not hopeless. Because as I ate breakfast this morning with my daughters and thought of their friends and all the other young women who may one day be faced with an emergency it reminded me of who and what we are fighting for.

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Students in Illinois need your help to correct an outrageous violation of privacy.


Illinois is the ONLY state in which health authorities are required by law to notify school principals of the names of students that test HIV-positive. Their principals can then disclose the information to any school personnel they like.

A bill before the senate, HB 61, would repeal this invasive and unnecessary requirement.

Urge the Illinois Senate to pass HB 61

Illinois’ disclosure law was written in 1987. Unfortunately, even in 2013, HIV remains highly stigmatized. Sharing students’ HIV status without their permission perpetuates this stigma and could discourage young people from getting tested for HIV. Plus, it is a violation of their right to medical confidentiality. Read more about this dangerous law.

Let’s change this law. Sign the petition and tell the Illinois Senate to pass HB 61. 

Categories: HIV
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It’s Week 3 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.   This week we’re focused on putting women and girls at the center of the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda.  That means prioritizing gender equality, youth empowerment, education and economic empowerment for young women, and an end to violence against women.

How can you get involved?

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It’s Week 2 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.  This week we’re focused on ensuring education for women and girls.

How can you get involved?

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It’s Earth Day, a great time to think about how the fight to protect the environment intersects with the fight to protect women and girls’ health and reproductive rights.  Throughout the day we’ll be hosting a conversation here on Amplify about how sustainability issues impact women; who bears the brunt of toxins in the environment; pitfalls in linking the two movements; and what we can do to get involved.  Read the articles here and contribute your own!

Categories: Earth Day
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Around the nation, thousands of young people participate in the National Day of Silence, a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.

You can support them: Tell Congress to support the School Non-Discrimination Act!

On Thursday, April 19, the Student Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and over 100 Members of Congress. The bi-partisan Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) prohibits discrimination against students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also ensures that all students have access to an education in a safe environment free from harassment, bullying, intimidation, or violence.

LGBT youth need a safe school environment to succeed – and they have the right to go to school without being afraid. Stand with LGBT students and their allies on the National Day of Silence.

Urge your Representatives to support the School Non-Discrimination Act!

 

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There are few things as AHMAZING as when young people, and their allies, get together to work for a common cause.  On Wednesday, April 10, we saw your events, read your tweets, posts and blogs, smiled at your pictures, and joined you in celebrating the very first National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day!

Each and every day in the United States 33 young people contract HIV. That is 1,000 young people each and every month. There are more than 76,000 young people under the age of 25 living with HIV in this country alone, and 60% of them don’t know that they have the infection.

Young people often feel as if they are fighting this epidemic alone, but we were NOT alone in this fight! Thousands of young people across this country stood together to prioritize young people in the fight against HIV & AIDS. You organized more than 50 events to raise awareness of the impact of HIV and AIDS on the campus of Howard University, tabled in Kansas, provided free testing in Florida, got your cities to officially recognize the day, held open-mic nights in Arizona, participated in a #youth #HIV Twitter chat with youth activists @lstallworth0 and @GeminiInstinct, and helped get the NYHAAD hashtag shared 130,480 times! Hot.

LA County Resolution

You also contributed amazing blogs on:

We were bowled over by the hundreds of photos you submitted on what young people need to reach an AIDS-free generation.

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The list could go on and on, your activism was everywhere! Thank you for showing the world that young people matter – that they need to be valued not just for who they will become tomorrow, but who they are today –and that you will not be silent! See you for NYHAAD 2014!

Categories: HIV, NYHAAD
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April 10, the first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, was a huge success!  From the Capitol Hill briefing, to the blogs and social media, to the events and activism around the country, youth activists and adult allies came out in full force.  We\’ll have a full recap with pictures later, but in the meantime, thanks for all that you did to support NYHAAD!

Categories: HIV
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Today’s the day you’ve been waiting for, the FIRST EVER National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD)! Today we acknowledge young people’s great work fighting the HIV & AIDS epidemic, and hold our leaders accountable to prioritizing young people in the fight against HIV & AIDS.

Show your love for NYHAAD! :

1.  Tweet  and post on Facebook about the day

2.  Take a selfie! Download (right-click and choose save as), print out, and take a picture with this image – then tweet your pic to @youthaidsday

3.  Visit Amplify to hear from AMAZING youth activists who work every day to end this epidemic.

4.  Join @YouthAIDSDay @TheBodyDotCom @_CaressaCameron @GeminiInstinct and @lstallworth0 from 2PM – 3PM EST today for a Twitter chat on #youth and #HIV, follow with #NYHAADchat.

5.  Find a NYHAAD event near you via the official NYHAAD map.

Let’s make this happen!

Categories: NYHAAD
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The countdown to National Youth HIV and AIDS Day has begun!  If you’re in DC, check out the briefing on Capitol Hill tomorrow!


briefing

Categories: Uncategorized
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Here is Advocates for Youth’s statement on today’s landmark decision removing age and ID restrictions from emergency contraception!

Today young women across the country have something to cheer about. After a decade-long struggle in which politics trumped science and common sense, young women and their partners will now have access to back-up birth control without unnecessary and burdensome restrictions. Emergency contraception is a safe, effective method of birth control that can prevent pregnancy in the first few days after unprotected sex.

Federal District Judge Edward Korman’s ruling directs the Food and Drug Administration to remove the age restrictions on emergency contraception within 30 days and allow the back-up birth control on pharmacy shelves with no age or identification restrictions.

“The burden on young women has been lifted. No longer will back-up birth control be unnecessarily locked up behind the counter, out of reach for too many young women,” stated Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. “Access to the full range of safe, reliable contraception is an essential part of basic health care. For too long politics has stood in the way.”
Prior to this ruling, women under 17 years old were required to obtain a prescription from a physician for emergency contraception. For women 17 and older, it could only be purchased upon request and with adequate identification. For years, medical experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics have agreed that emergency contraception is safe for over-the-counter use by young women.

Tanisha Humphrey knows first-hand the burden of denying access to contraception. Her story is just one of many before today’s ruling:

“During my freshman year in college, my birth control failed. I was suddenly facing the possibility of getting pregnant my first semester in college and I was terrified. I was over 18, but I didn’t have identification to prove it. I’ve never felt so powerless, never so at the mercy of someone else for something so important. I am thrilled by the court’s decision today so that another young woman will not go through what I did and can take responsible steps to protect themselves from an unintended pregnancy.”

“We urge Secretary Sebelius to expedite the court’s ruling,” Ms. Hauser continued. “Advocates for Youth will continue to advocate on behalf of all young women to ensure true access to the full-range of contraceptive options – including ensuring contraceptives are affordable and available.”

 

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UPDATE:  VICTORY!  Last week, James and other activists in Texas met with their policy makers to protest the Zedler 1 anti-gay amendment, including delivering your signatures in person to Texas’ legislature.  And on Thursday 4/4, the amendment was withdrawn.  We got them off our backpacks and funding for the centers is safe.  Great job!

This is a featured post from Texas Freedom Network Student Chapter President James Lee!

My name is James Lee and growing up in Rio Grande Valley Texas, I was taught that being gay was wrong. I believed something was wrong with me because I was gay. It wasn’t until I stepped into my college resource center and found other students like me that I finally found peace with myself. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Resource Center at the University of Houston changed my life.

Now one Texas Representative wants to take that center away, and all of the other LGBT resource centers that help thousands of young people each year at Texas’ universities. Sign a petition to help protect LGBT resource centers in Texas!

Texas Representative Bill Zedler introduced an Amendment to eliminate state funding for LGBT Resource Centers like the one that created a safe space for me and my friends to come out. The Zedler 1 Amendment would not only remove state funding for LGBT Resource Centers but would also eliminate state funding for Women’s Centers and ALL Gender & Sexuality Centers at Texas universities.

In the week leading up to National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, and in an effort to build an AIDS free generation we must continue to support LGBT Center and Women’s Centers that provide critical health services. I am asking all students, youth, alumni, and concerned citizens to contact the state legislators to vote no on the Zedler 1 amendment. Tell Texas legislators to stop harming students and get off our backpacks!

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nyhaad1000emailHere’s something you may not have known. Every month 1,000 young people acquire HIV. Every month.

It’s time to take action and invest in young people – their health, their education, and their leadership – so we can truly reach an AIDS-free generation!

Join us for the FIRST EVER National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) on April 10! Let’s acknowledge young people’s great work fighting this epidemic, and hold our leaders accountable to prioritizing young people in the fight against HIV & AIDS.

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Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH) is a group of students that has been acting as an independent organization since 2009.  The dedicated students that are a part of this group work solely through grants and volunteerism, as they are not officially recognized by the university.

 

BCSSH operates to distribute materials, resources, and information regarding sexual health to the Boston College community.  Apart from their sexual health trivia nights, condom distributions on city property, and other efforts, they pride themselves in the management of Safe Sites.  These Safe Sites are dorms across campus that contain male and female condoms, lubricant, and information on sexual health and wellness.  Any student in need of these materials can visit a Safe Site and receive these resources, no questions asked.

 

Recently, students whose rooms were designated as Safe Sites received emails from the Dean of Students Paul Chebator and the Director of Residential Life George Arey, along with other university officials.  The email threatened the students to cease distributing resources from their dooms or they would “be referred to the student conduct office for disciplinary action by the university.”

 

BCSSH has responded with a media frenzy, garnering support from organizations like Advocates For Youth, the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, and has received attention from media outlets ranging from BC newspapers to The Boston Globe and CNN.

 

The group has even received legal counsel from the ACLU, with their representatives saying that Boston College is infringing upon the student’s rights with their threats.

 

BCSSH has started a petition for students, faculty, and relatives to sign in support of sexual health resources on campus.
In addition, they have a solidarity statement for individuals outside of the BC Community to sign in order to show their support.

 

I have had the incredible opportunity to work with this awe-inspiring group of people for some time now and have been incredibly moved by their activism.  On behalf of the cause for Sexual Health, please consider signing the solidarity statement and writing a letter of support.  Any and all questions or letters can be sent to lennoxchelsea@gmail.com.

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This month I lobbied the Texas Legislature on behalf of LGBT Youth with Equality Texas.

 

After I had finished speaking with my Houston area legislators I decided I had to speak with representatives from the Rio Grand Valley, as a former constituent. When deciding whose office to visit first, one representative stood out to me, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinajosa. Earlier this year, Senator Hinajosa filed a bill in favor of civil unions for lesbian and gay couples in Texas –this was a huge deal! When the Senator’s office had released a statement concerning the matter local opponents of equality began slinging mud at the senator, questioning his sexuality and sanity.

 

 

As I walked to his office I wasn’t sure what to expect. When we arrived we learned the Senator was not in his office so we spoke with a member of his staff. After a short while we headed back to the Senate Gallery and to my surprise, as I reached for the door, Senator Hinajosa walked through. “Senator Hinajosa!” I said. He looked at me for a second wondering if he knew me. I shook his heavy hands, introduced myself and my team and explained how we had just left his office. After a few words I suddenly began to feel so overwhelmed. The tall man who stood before me had made a bold move when he filed his bill for same sex civil unions, and it meant a lot to me.

To me, Senator Hinajosa’s support of civil unions made him a hero. He wasn’t from some other place, he wasn’t from some other background, he was a Mexican-American man like me, from the Rio Grand Valley. In my eyes he was what all the other men in my life hadn’t been, supportive.

 

After a few words I told the senator, “I stopped by your office today to lobby for a bill that’s been filed in the senate, but I have to talk to you about something else right now.” I thanked the senator for his support of civil unions and told him how bold I thought it was for him to have filed his legislation. Suddenly I started choking up, my eyes became watery, I told him “I’m from the Valley, and I know what the attitudes can be toward LGBT people there” and just when I thought he couldn’t get any cooler he replied, “Some people just need to grow up and get educated.”

At that second I could hardly contain myself. I shook the senator’s hand and thanked him again as I fought back tears. As I walked through the Senate Gallery I couldn’t help but fall into one of the chairs and start crying. I realized in that moment how much things have changed, both in my own life and in our state.

 

If you had told me when I was a kid that a straight man, from my part of the state, would file legislation urging other lawmakers to move toward the equality of lesbian and gay Texans, I would have thought you were playing a cruel joke. When I heard the news that an RGV Senator had filed that legislation I felt a sense of vindication for all the wrong doing that had been done to me when I was a kid.

As I wept in the Senate Gallery and thought of the progress that had been made I felt even stronger about my future, and the future of Texas. We have a long way to go, but we will get there. With the help of allies like Senator Hinajosa and young people like me, we will get there.

 

James Lee is the Houston Area Outreach Intern for the Texas Freedom Network and works with the Texas Student Leadership Council, part of Advocates for Youth’s Cultural Advocacy and Mobilization Initiative.

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One State. A Country worth of Disappointment. 

12 is the new 20

If you’ve been following any news about reproductive health recently, you may have seen a thing or 12 about Arkansas. Just a reminder: Arkansas passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy. There are a few factors to note about this piece of legislation and what it means for the future of anti-abortion policies throughout the states.

The bill was actually vetoed by Governor Mike Beebe (D) and his veto was overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature (shout out to the Beebe for trying!). Its sponsor is Republican Senator Jason Rapert (self-identified tea partier), who actually submitted a bill to ban abortions at 6 weeks but decided to retract since the only way to know anything about a fetus at 6 weeks is with a transvaginal ultrasound (and he didn’t want to feel the heat Virginia felt when they tackled that issue). The final approval of the bill was surprisingly unemotional, with consideration taking just a few minutes and with no one refuting, pushing back or making a statement against the decision. Mere moments that would potentially put hundreds of women at risk. Mere moments that put Arkansas at the center of the abortion rights movement. Mere moments that pushed fetal heartbeats and 12-week bans as a possible and passable policy option. This is unsettling, to say the least.

Fetal Heartbeat is the new Fetal Pain

Interestingly, what we’re seeing now are certain old school anti-abortion leaders worried that this new wave of (tea party-inspired) radical anti-abortion activism is only going to push abortion ban policies to federal courts, get struck down, and actually just REINFORCE Roe. And they’re right. While we’re on the topic, let’s just revisit the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade for a moment, which states that women have a constitutional right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb (24-26 weeks into the pregnancy).

Abortion bans, at 12 (fetal heartbeat) or 20 weeks (fetal pain), are being argued in court because, get this, they actually ARE unconstitutional. Just last week, a federal court struck down Idaho’s 20-week abortion ban. Luckily, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union have challenged the 12-week ban in Arkansas and are hopeful they will strike down the legislation before it comes into effect.

But that doesn’t mean this new wave of anti-abortion activists and elected officials won’t continue to introduce legislation like wildfire. Nebraska started this trend with a 20-week ban in 2010, which prompted five more states to follow suit in 2011 (Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma), and then three more in 2012 (Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana). Thus far, Arkansas is the first state this year to approve an abortion ban.

Let’s Back up…What’s with the numbers? These measures are premised on the idea that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation and have a detectable heartbeat at 12 weeks, and should therefore be afforded state protections. Well actually, in 2005 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  (ACOG) published a statement that, after rigorous scientific review, states that “fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.” And, as of a statement released in the summer of 2012, there have been no new studies since that have changed this dominant view of the medical profession. And that’s just the opinion of the entire medical profession and rigorous scientific review. No big deal.

But the real point is that 20-week bans, 12-week bans, and whatever ban that occurs before viability are straight-up unconstitutional. We can see this doesn’t seem to stop radical anti-abortion crusaders, which is the worrying part. And the questions we must ask ourselves as abortions-rights activists: What number is next? What state is next?

Actually, we have the answer to that last question. Drum roll please….. NORTH DAKOTA. Yup. A similar ban is under consideration in North Dakota RIGHT NOW. In the light of recent events in Arkansas, this bill may be all the more likely to pass. Other states that have introduced similar heartbeat bans during the current legislative session include Ohio, Kansas, Texas and Alabama. Be on the lookout for actions to plug into in the near future.

BUT FOR REALSIES…. Arkansas takes the cake on worst reproductive health policies this week. And that 12-week abortion stuff above? That’s not the end of it. Earlier this month, they also passed a law that limits abortion coverage in the state’s upcoming health exchange. Oh, and if Senator Rapert didn’t feel like he had done enough passing the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, the next day he co-sponsored a bill designed to strip Planned Parenthood of all state and federal financing. Wow, Arkansas. Just… WOW.

I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed with the state of states these days. But I can’t end this on such a negative note. There HAS been some good coming out of the states, right? Right.

Shout out to…. ILLINOIS! Why?! Well a few things.

On the local level:

The Chicago Board of Education recently passed a policy that mandates a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. In addition, for the first time, sex education instruction in Chicago will cover sexual orientation and gender identity. CHEERS to Chi-Town for getting that all young people deserve the right to lead healthy lives and access to complete and accurate information.

On the state level:

This week, HB 2213, passed through the House Education Committee, which seeks to remove the barriers to school attendance, safety, and completion among young parents, expecting parents, or survivors of domestic or sexual violence. This “Ensuring Success in Schools” Act is now on its way to the House floor for debate. One step closer to ensuring the rights of pregnant and parenting teens!

Also, this week, Illinois’s comprehensive sex education bill (HB 2675) passed out of the Human Services Committee and is heading to the House floor, which requires that if sex education IS taught, then the curriculum needs to be comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate. One step closer towards a more comprehensive approach to sex education!

And to continue on the shout-out train, major props to our friends over at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) for all their advocacy work and youth mobilization on both of these statewide efforts! Young people and sex education for the win!

Curated by Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, State Strategies Manager, Advocates for Youth

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In honor of National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, we asked abortion providers to describe their experiences and why they do the work they do.  Show a provider your appreciation today.

Thirty percent of women will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Thirty percent. That means that two or three of the nine ob/gyns in my residency class will have obtained an abortion during their reproductive lives. They will be joined by 4,000 undergraduate students at the University of Maryland, my alma mater. Unfortunately, 87 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. So where are all of my residency and college classmates going to obtain this safe, legal, and clearly very common procedure? They’re coming to me, and the future abortion providers I train.

I decided to become an abortion provider after volunteering at the University of Maryland Women’s Health clinic. A classmate with an unintended pregnancy came in and asked where she could get an abortion, and I had no clue where to send her. I then learned the staggering statistic about the number of U.S. counties with no provider, and vowed not only to become a provider, but to train others to provide as well. This is the only way I can ensure that my residency and college classmates have a compassionate medical professional to turn to during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives, and that their daughters and granddaughters will as well. I am proud to be one of today’s abortion providers, and to train our providers of tomorrow.

Rachel Rapkin, MD – Pittsburgh, PA

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