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May 21, 2013
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?
May 14, 2013
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:
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 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:
May 13, 2013
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.
Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth
May 8, 2013
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?
May 2, 2013
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.
Apr 30, 2013
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.
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.
Apr 30, 2013
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?
Check back next week for more!
Apr 23, 2013
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?
Apr 22, 2013
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!
Apr 19, 2013
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.
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.
Apr 12, 2013
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.
You also contributed amazing blogs on:
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!
Apr 11, 2013
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!
Apr 10, 2013
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! :
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!
Apr 9, 2013
Apr 6, 2013
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.”
Apr 3, 2013
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!
Apr 1, 2013
Mar 29, 2013
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.
Mar 27, 2013
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mar 25, 2013
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.
Mar 15, 2013
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
Mar 12, 2013
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
Mar 11, 2013
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.
When I think about providing abortions and helping women self-induce abortions, I rarely think, “Why am I doing this?” More often I think, “Why are other health care providers not doing this?” As a women’s health care provider, I am invested in the well-being of my individual patients but also in the collective health of women in society. Not health as in the absence of illness, but health as in the physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic and social well-being that allows women to fulfill their dreams. And that includes power to make decisions about their sexuality, bodies, reproduction and ultimately future.
For me providing abortions is both a conscientious commitment to women and a political one. Abortion is about gender equity and self-determination, more than simply a medical procedure that women need when they determine that it is not the right time for them to carry a pregnancy any further or to raise a child. I never ask women the reason they are seeking an abortion, I trust them to make the best decision for themselves. For me providing safe and compassionate abortion care is about reversing the de-valuation of women and girls and ensuring they have the opportunity to lead the lives they wish to lead. And in large part it’s also about resistance, resisting the violence of stigma and silencing around abortion and abortion work. Women need abortions and deserve they be provided in the same way all medical care is with beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice.
Mar 5, 2013
Download (right-click and choose save as), print out, and take a picture with one of these images to show your appreciation.
Every single day, abortion providers 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.
Unfortunately, many abortion providers continue to 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.
Join us in showing your appreciation. Take a picture of yourself holding one of the signs above and then send to Julia@advocatesforyouth.org by Sunday March 10th.*
We will be delivering cards and books of your submissions to local abortion providers – to show them how much we appreciate their bravery and commitment. Help us get the word out - share this blog, and tweet it so we can share more thanks!
*By emailing us your photos, you give permission for these photos to be used for any Advocates for Youth materials, including but not limited to websites and printed publications. All photos must be of people age 18 or older.
Special thanks to Megan Smith, founder of the Repeal Hyde Art Project, for the beautiful artwork.
Feb 28, 2013
Today the House of Representatives reauthorized the Violence Against Women’s Act – a version we actually like which includes provisions specific to college students, native American women, LGBT people and immigrant women. VAWA covers a lot of territory. Some of its most known benefits include funding for shelters and programs to prevent domestic violence. Now the bill is off to the President to sign and become law, so take a minute to celebrate all your hard work in making this a reality!
Feb 22, 2013
If you’re like me, your uterus was doing the Electric Slide with excitement last year when the Obama Administration announced that birth control would be covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Preventative benefits without cost sharing? Um, yes please. As if I wasn’t overjoyed already, I was even more thrilled to hear the recent news that Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) such as Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) and the hormonal implant would also be covered by ACA.
The incredible effectiveness of IUDs and the hormonal implant as well as the flexibility to remove the device at any time make LARCs a fantastic contraceptive option for all women. Mirena, a hormone-releasing IUD, is over 99% effective and once inserted by your health care professional, can last for up to 5 years. Paragard is a non-hormonal IUD made with copper which is also over 99% effective and lasts up to 10 years. The hormonal implant, Nexplanon (formerly known as Implanon) is a single rod which is inserted into the upper arm, is also over 99% effective and can last for up to 3 years. All three devices can be removed by your health care professional at any time.
It also seems that the word is getting out about how awesome and effective LARC’s are. In a Guttmacher study, researchers found that between 2002 and 2007, the number of women using LARCs increased from 2.4% to 3.7%, and by 2009, more than doubling the amount of use with a total of 8.5% of contraceptors using these devices. For young women aged 15 – 19, 4.5% use LARCs, with only 0.5% using the hormonal implant Nexplanon/Implanon.
Personally, I used to completely disregard LARCs as a viable option for my own birth control. I thought of them as some ancient, strange method that my mom probably used in the 70’s – definitely NOT an option for a hip and trendy young Millennial. What I was totally ignorant to (besides the fact that no one would ever call me ‘hip’ or ‘trendy’) were all of the incredible benefits that using a LARC would provide me and other young women. Recently, more health care professionals have come forward to affirm that LARCs are a great contraceptive choice for women of all ages, not just those who have previously given birth. In October 2012, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognized that LARCs were a safe and extremely effective option for young women, publishing a report strongly recommending LARCs for women aged 15-19.
Ok, so now let’s talk money. You might say ‘LARCs sound fantastic! I want one right now! Let’s do this thing!’ and I would totally agree with everything you’re saying, but also would remind you that it’s important to consider the details. LARCs can cost anywhere between $400 – $1,000 depending on the device and your insurance provider – a pretty hefty chunk of change, which has deterred women from choosing the method in the past, even though the benefit usually outweighs the cost over time. This is one of the prime reasons why the announcement that the Affordable Care Act is covering LARCs is so fantastic – if the cost of the device is covered by insurance, more women can feel financially unburdened about making the choice to use a LARC.
It is true that the roll-out of the ACA in regards to coverage of birth control has been quite a confusing process in which a lot of women are asking for the fine print regarding the cost of their particular method. Getting a LARC means considering the cost of several things: the insertion procedure, the removal procedure, and the device itself, and so far what we know is that the ACA covers the device and insertion, but there is no word on whether or not the removal procedure is covered under ACA as well. Throughout the implementation of contraceptive coverage, inquiries have come center stage in response to what these new laws mean for women’s access to birth control. We can only hope that as we learn more about this new addition to the ACA, questions and investigative research lead to more informed answers about the details of coverage for LARCs for all women.
Feb 20, 2013
by Julia, Manager, Youth Activist Network
Last fall I had the honor of meeting poet and activist Sonya Renee at Advocates’ annual training of youth activists. Her spoken word performance moved us and her passion inspired us to keep up the fight for social and reproductive justice.
That’s why I am so thrilled to share with you Sonya Renee’s videos for the 1 in 3 Campaign. Sonya Renee has shared her own abortion story, and has also shared two important spoken word pieces about the importance of raising our voices and no longer holding our tongues about abortion experiences. The three pieces are a must-see for all of us working toward ensuring access to safe and legal abortion care for all women.
Help end the stigma and silence around abortion. Watch and share Sonya Renee’s videos now.
Feb 19, 2013
Last Thursday, Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) introduced the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act! This bill lays out a comprehensive, age-appropriate, and holistic vision for sex education in the United States.
Young people have the right to lead healthy lives. To have healthy lives, young people need sex education programs which provide them with the information and skills necessary to make healthy decisions – and that includes medically accurate and complete information about abstinence, contraception, condoms, healthy relationships, sexuality, and more.
They also need programs which connect with young people’s lives and do not ignore or stigmatize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, or young people who have already had sex.
Let’s work to ensure that young people get the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. Please ask your Members of Congress to help make the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality.
Feb 13, 2013
Last night during the State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his call for an AIDS-free Generation. In a speech that discussed some of our nation’s greatest challenges, we were glad to hear that the President still considers HIV and AIDS a priority for our nation. However, too often in this fight, young people and their needs are left out or ignored. That’s why young people from across the country have joined together to call for the first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day to be held on April 10, 2013.
Every month, 1,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 are infected with HIV in the United States. Over 34,000 young Americans are currently living with HIV and thousands do not know they are HIV positive.
Young people are leading amazing efforts in their communities to raise awareness, educate, and hold accountable our leaders. Already youth and adult allies across the country are planning events. From youth summits to town halls, bringing mobile testing units to campuses and hosting spoken words performances, the community is gearing up for a fantastic day.
But, more work remains to be done.
We need leadership from the White House in acknowledging our nation’s youth as a key population in this fight and we need a meaningful commitment to address the specific needs of young people. Join us in emailing President Obama and asking him to recognize National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.
We can reach an AIDS-free Generation, but we cannot do it without our nation’s youth. Please take a minute and contact the President now!
Feb 6, 2013
We’re thrilled to share this great op-ed by Amplify youth contributor Hannah, published this week in The Advocate. Hannah shares her moving personal story and urges LGBT organizations to prioritize young people most in need.
“Before I could even register what happened, I suddenly found myself without a legal residence, car, phone, or insurance of any kind. I was kicked out with just the clothes on my back. Pleas of reconnecting with my parents were met with “We’re done with you” or “You’re forbidden to come back. You will not see us again.
I was fortunate enough to be surrounded with several good friends, have a committed relationship, finally attain a legal residence, and hold two jobs. Others are not so fortunate. The Williams Institute confirms that 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.
Our progressive organizations are certainly fervent in their pursuit of marriage equality and combating bullying, but the majority of them seem to be appallingly silent on this issue, which currently affects thousands of teens. It’s a combination of issues, relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, class, and race. It’s complicated, but couldn’t we all acknowledge that there’s more to social justice for the LGBT community than just marriage equality?”
Jan 30, 2013
by Kate Stewart, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs
Should a woman’s access to safe abortion care be determined by her income level?
Last week, we marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic decision that made abortion legal in the United States. But while Roe was an important victory, it wasn’t the end of the fight to ensure all women have access to safe, affordable abortion care.
Millions of women in America – in particular low-income women, young women, and women of color – are denied access to abortion coverage because they get their health insurance through the U.S. government. When faced with an unintended pregnancy, it is vital that women are able to consider all options available to them, regardless of how much money they have.
In honor of the Roe anniversary, President Obama recommitted to “supporting women and families in the choices they make.” Now we need the President to stand with low-income women by submitting a budget which does not restrict coverage of abortion care for women who have government-funded insurance.
No woman should have her pregnancy options limited because she cannot afford to have an abortion. We have not fully secured abortion rights until all women have access to safe, affordable abortion care.
Jan 23, 2013
by Eriauna Stratton
Through the 1 in 3 Campaign with Advocates for Youth, our student organization VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) has been able to greatly increase our efforts toward destigmatizing abortion and change how we talk about abortion. Our VOX chapter was founded at the University of Kentucky in 2008, and it remains the only pro-choice organization on campus.
When my colleague and I first told the rest of our organization that we were joining the 1 in 3 Campaign, they were reluctant to participate. Even in a pro-choice student group, they were questioning how we were supposed to destigmatize abortion on our campus when we did not even talk about this subject to our friends and family. More importantly, they weren’t sure WHY we needed to talk about the subject at all. But that was exactly my point: If we can’t even talk about abortion, we can’t ever hope to change the stigma.
My colleague and I definitely had our work cut out for us. The first step we took to get our members more involved with the 1 in 3 Campaign was to take them to a clinic that provides abortion services in Louisville to volunteer as clinic escorts. I knew that this powerful experience would help them understand personally why we do this work.
And it did—just as it had transformed my own understanding two years earlier.
I will never forget the first time I ever went to serve as a clinic escort. I honestly did not know what to expect, especially in Kentucky. I had heard the stories about the protestors at the clinic. I knew about the graphic photos and the shouting. I even knew that as the only African-American woman going, I could be targeted by protestors, but somehow that did not deter me. I arrived at the clinic early that morning along with my fellow VOX members with sleepy eyes and an open mind, and soon I realized that all of the rumors I had heard were true.
The signs were even more gruesome and misleading than I had expected. One picture was paired with a scripture from the Bible, and another had a picture of a supposedly botched abortion. The protestors were not only yelling at the women entering the clinic, they were harassing their family members and friends. Not surprisingly, we had the pleasure of being verbally abused by them as well. On a couple of occasions, protestors told me that I was contributing to the genocide of my race by supporting this “madness.” If this is the kind of response we can expect, no wonder people are so hesitant to talk about abortion issues.
If enduring this harassment wasn’t difficult enough, remember that this is after women have managed to make it to a clinic in the first place. Kentucky continues to enact as many laws as it possibly can to delay or prevent women from seeking abortion care altogether. A physician cannot perform the procedure until at least 24 hours after a woman has received counseling. Plus, our state only has two abortion clinics to serve all 120 counties in the entire state!
Volunteering as a clinic escort showed me many of the obstacles women face just in obtaining a legal medical procedure. It also made me see that one day I could be in those women’s shoes, and if I ever was, I would want as much support as I could get to feel safe and secure about my decision. I knew from that day on that it was not by chance that I stumbled upon this work, and I have worked to expand upon it in every way I can.
This year will mark the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and one might think that reproductive health care would not still be a controversial and taboo topic. But it remains a constant struggle—particularly in “Bible Belt” states like mine. It is up to us and the other few organizations who support women’s reproductive rights, like Planned Parenthood and the Kentucky Health Justice Network, to continue to protect what is slowly being taken away from us.
I left the abortion clinic that day with an even more fueled passion for this work, and, as we continue to work with the 1 in 3 Campaign on our campus, we are fueling the passion of our peers as well. We are now hosting discussion dinners, escorting at the abortion clinic, and ultimately educating our members and other peers in the process. Along with my peers here in Kentucky, I am doing all I can to start a new conversation, promote reproductive justice, and destigmatize abortion.
There is one thing I’ve learned for certain: No matter what we face—and no matter who tells us we should just give up—we have to keep going. It really is up to us.
To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this blog is part of a series profiling a new generation of activists working to destigmatize abortion and ensure access to safe, affordable abortion care. Published in partnership with RH Reality Check.
Jan 22, 2013
by Julia Reticker-Flynn, Manager, Youth Activist Network.
Nearly two years ago, I was sitting in our conference room, and I was frustrated. We all were. We were discussing the unprecedented number of anti-abortion bills being proposed—and passed—in state legislatures around the country: waiting periods designed to harass women, unnecessary clinic regulations, parental notification laws, among others. We were watching anti-choice legislation replicate from state to state in real time, knowing that these laws would have harmful consequences in the lives of real people, especially young people.
We were tired of only playing defense. We had to find a way to meet this challenge head on.
We wanted a new approach to activism on abortion issues that was pro-active and on our own terms. We wanted something that would make young activists visible, within the movement and beyond. We wanted to hear about the experiences of the people who had been a part of this movement for decades. We wanted to find a way to give voice to contemporary experiences with abortion. And we wanted to honor the complexity of people’s lives. Ultimately, we wanted a new conversation—one that didn’t focus on the politicized debate around abortion, but focused on people.
Our answer was the 1 in 3 Campaign.
Storytelling has always been a powerful tool for social change. In fact, young activists in a variety of movements were already sharing their personal stories as a large scale organizing strategy. From Dreamers working on immigration issues, to survivors of sexual assault, to LGBT activists fighting for equality, young people were speaking their truths and sharing their lived experiences as a way of shifting how the public understands often polarizing social issues. By sharing their stories, these young people were creating spaces where we as a society could think about issues in terms of people’s realities and not political debates.
Stories dispel myths, break down stereotypes, humanize issues, and invoke empathy and urgency, inspiring people who heard them to take action. And each of these movements helped create a role for allies that propelled their causes far beyond only those who had personally been affected.
The issues may be different, but we knew there was an opportunity to adapt lessons from these progressive movements to build social support and acceptance for women’s experiences with abortion.
Since the 1 in 3 Campaign launched in September of 2011, I have been moved by people who have shared their stories with the Campaign. And I have been inspired by the way that young people – from Michigan to Texas to Kentucky to New York – have been empowered to make this campaign their own.
Youth activists have been at the heart of the 1 in 3 Campaign, making it their own on campuses and in communities across the country. They have started conversations about abortion with friends, family members, teammates, and sororities. They have shared stories from the campaign to build support in their communities to ensure access to abortion care. They have created new opportunities for activism, sharing their own stories, building strong relationships with local abortion providers, volunteering as clinic escorts, and raising money for local abortion funds – all while standing strong against misinformation and opposition at every turn.
In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are delighted to partner with RH Reality Check to feature a series of profiles of student activists who are leading a new generation of activism on abortion. Many of these activists are participating in the 1 in 3 Campaign, but they are far from alone. Young people all across the country are standing up to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable abortion care. Their work extends beyond any one campaign or any one organization. They are activists and artists and clinic escorts and educators and doulas and lawyers and providers.
Young people are leaders in this movement—and it is an honor to work alongside them each and every day.
To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this blog is part of a series profiling a new generation of activists working to destigmatize abortion and ensure access to safe, affordable abortion care. Published in partnership with RH Reality Check.
Jan 16, 2013
by Debra Hauser, President
Today, I am proud to announce the release of the book 1 in 3: These Are Our Stories.
I remained silent about my own abortion for 15 years. Now, as I share my story around the country, more often than not, other women offer up theirs in response. Some are family and friends whom I have known for years; others are complete strangers. The result is a bond, stronger than the anti-abortion rhetoric or the fear of retaliation or violence that too often finds its way into the political debate. In its place is empathy for the complexity of our lives, for the commonalities that bind us, for the need to keep abortion care safe and available.
Created to mark the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, 1 in 3 : These Are Our Stories highlights the voices of forty women. Each story is different – and each is critical to the conversation about abortion.
One in three women in the U.S. will have an abortion in her lifetime – it’s a fact of life. It is essential that people hear these stories, to put faces to the statistics and to understand that women who seek abortions are sisters, mothers and daughters. Advocates for Youth launched the 1 in 3 Campaign in 2011 to begin a new cultural narrative about abortion, and I am honored to share the amazing collection of stories that has grown from it.
Jan 16, 2013
Today’s young people have never known a world without HIV. The path to ending the epidemic is long and challenging. But there is one step you can take that’s easy, yet very valuable:
Thousands of youth activists have called for a National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day – a nationwide call to action for our communities, schools and government to invest in young people’s health, education, and leadership in the fight against HIV & AIDS.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Join us on the journey toward ending AIDS.
Jan 7, 2013
Happy New Year! We at Advocates for Youth are excited about the possibilities for 2013 and beyond. As Inauguration Day approaches, we’d love to know what YOU think President Obama’s priorities for reproductive and sexual health and rights should be in his second term.
We’ll use your responses to keep pushing the Obama administration – and to shape our own work. So make your voice heard today - fill out our survey!
Jan 4, 2013
Katie Stack is a reproductive justice activist and speaker.
The latest TIME magazine cover story features an expose on the abortion debate, and author Kate Pickert concludes that in the abortion war, the pro-choice side is losing.
While she largely ignores the advances made by women of color and reproductive justice organizations, in many ways she is correct. For while abortion remains legal, it is now harder and more costly to obtain one in most states. Abortion continues to be one of the most contentious political issues, and as such it has remained an easy target for Republican lawmakers. The state-by-state strategy for obliterating abortion access seems to be working much more effectively than the efforts of the legacy organizations of the pro-choice movement – who always seem to be playing defense.
In her analysis, Pickert cites a number of reasons for this – but the one that hit home most was the lack of public support for abortion. Unlike Pickert I think that this lack of support is not because abortion is inherently a controversial topic, but because much of the pro-choice leadership has led us down a path that makes far too many concessions and that fails to assert abortion as ethical and as central to human rights.
While disheartening, this certainly does not mean that we have lost. We can come back. And we can win hearts and minds.
But unfortunately, even the best advocates for reproductive rights willingly roll over on the ethics of abortion, choosing instead to the defer to the idea that without abortion women’s lives would be at risk.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll a mere 38% of Americans find abortion “morally acceptable.” Rarely is abortion publicly defended outright. For generations the motto of the prochoice movement was “safe, legal and rare” – driving home the idea that abortion, though it should be available, was not an ideal outcome.
This did not go unnoticed by the anti-choice movement. In fact, their strategic decision to focus on the fetus (through gestational age limits and ultrasound requirements) evolved due to this weakness in the rhetoric around abortion.
The growing youth militia of the anti-choice movement has been especially well trained in capitalizing on this.
As a young Catholic in the Midwest, I was subjected the hours of pro-life training. The very first thing I was taught was that even pro-choice people wouldn’t support abortion in all cases. That everyone had a point where they were uncomfortable with it; where they were no longer able to defend it. We were assured that it existed somewhere – multiple abortions, abortions at 20 weeks, abortions at 30 weeks, abortion because of disability or deformity. The goal, was to find it and then ask – well, what’s wrong with that abortion?
The weakness of the pro-choice movement has been the inability to answer, “nothing.”
A quick search of “abortion debates” on youtube shows countless reproductive rights advocates gingerly tiptoeing around the “what’s wrong with abortion” question. They posit a number answers. Nothing – until fetal development has progressed to certain point. Nothing – as long as you’re willing to believe that the fetus and woman are the same biological entity. Nothing – until 20 weeks gestation.
Nothing – but only because illegal abortions will kill women.
In whole, their arguments are messy, unclear and dependent on an audience that isn’t swayed by the clarity and simplicity of the anti-abortion talking points. What’s worse, they often draw a line between “acceptable” abortions and “unacceptable” abortions – and it is that kind of thinking that has allowed abortion restrictions to take hold.
To win the fight for reproductive freedom, we must be willing advocate for full reproductive justice for all people – even those whose decisions we may not personally agree with. And to do that, we must advocate for women to have full autonomy over their bodies at all times, without exception.
This is undoubtedly a difficult task. In a world where women are continuously told that their bodies are not their own, publicly advocating for reproductive rights on the basis of bodily autonomy is revolutionary. But it seems like a revolution might be just what we need.
Dec 14, 2012
Young Women of Color Leadership Council member, Januari Mckay, is a 2012 Mayor’s Community Service Award recipient. Januari was recognized with the Advocate Award for HIV/AIDS. This award recognizes a Washington, DC resident who has demonstrated exemplary commitment to HIV/AIDS education and prevention through volunteerism and service. Through her efforts as a member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council and her volunteer work with many organizations in the District, Januari has devoted countless hours to addressing the HIV epidemic in our Nation’s capital, especially among women of color. As the first young woman of color to receive this honor, she is a role model for the young people she works with and exemplifies what hard work and dedication is.
Earlier this week, Januari was honored at a ceremony where Mayor Vincent Gray spoke about the importance of community service and the vital role volunteers play in improving our communities and the lives of others. Januari’s humility, dedication and selflessness in all of the work that she does for her community is truly inspiring. Januari represents the amazing work young people are capable of doing in addressing HIV/AIDS in our communities. We all have potential to be amazing leaders in our communities to create change, regardless of our age, so we must get out and make it happen!
Dec 10, 2012
Since we posted this last week, there has been some good news. Thanks to outcry from around the world, action on the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda’s parliament has been postponed at least until February. And, Uganda’s President Museveni has spoken out against the bill’s call for the death penalty.
There is still much work to be done – Uganda remains very dangerous for LGBT people and for activists working on these issues. But with commitment and effort, we can all help to make it safer. We’ll keep you updated on developments in the new year. Help us continue our work in Uganda and around the world - donate today.
In Uganda, a terrifying “anti-homosexuality” bill has resurfaced within parliament for discussion. At its worst, it would call for putting LGBT people to death.
In addition, it would demand a three-year prison sentence for people who do not turn in “known homosexuals” to the police, and a seven year sentence for “aiding and abating” homosexuality.
When the bill was last introduced, human rights and LGBT rights groups were horrified, and many governments condemned it. Pressure from around the globe led to its never being voted on. We need to put that pressure on again NOW.
Activists on the ground recommend we keep it civil so our message is heard – here’s a sample tweet: Prime Minister @AmamaMbabazi will you speak out against Uganda’s dangerous Anti-Homosexuality Bill today? Lives depend on it! #stopthehate
Dec 7, 2012
A year ago today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overriding the FDA’s recommendation to make Plan B emergency contraception available over-the-counter without age restrictions. That’s right – scientists recommended the over-the-counter status, finding the drug safe for young women under 17. But the Obama administration denied it, ignoring the evidence in favor of politics.
Join us in taking action:
Then join us and others in a “twitter flurry” directed at HHS throughout the day – let them know we haven’t forgotten and we want action!
During his 2009 Inauguration speech, President Obama said, “We will restore science to its rightful place.” And since a year ago, the science has only gotten stronger, with the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommending that doctors routinely talk about EC with teens and provide them with prescriptions as needed.
Tell Secretary Sebelius to stick to the President’s commitment and follow the science: make emergency contraception available over-the-counter without restriction!
Dec 3, 2012
Friends, we are once again searching for the most bold and visionary college students from around the United States to receive five hundred Trojan Brand condoms to distribute on their college campuses.
We select one-thousand SafeSites every semester to participate in this nation-wide youth-led grassroots movement to make the United States a sexually healthy nation. Each year, GACC members give out one million Trojan Brand condoms on college campuses across the United States, educate their peers about sexual health, and organize to improve the policies that affect young people’s health and lives.
What kind of ingenious plans will you come up with to distribute them this time? Condom lollipops? Condom scavenger hunt? Condom raffle tickets? Condom demonstration flash mob? Dress up as a giant chicken/duck/goose/platypus laying plastic eggs filled with condoms, candy and fun facts in strategic areas to welcome the spring? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!
The application deadline is December 31st and it only takes about 10 minutes to fill out. Apply now!
Do it for your country.
PS – Check out the GACC Facebook page to learn more and see the amazing ways SafeSites are distributing condoms, educating, and organizing.
Dec 1, 2012
Getting to Zero: What will it take to get to an AIDS Free Generation?
Each year, December 1 marks World AIDS Day, when activists around the world come together to raise awareness of the global HIV epidemic, fight stigma and discrimination, and advocate for increased efforts to support comprehensive HIV education and prevention.
The ongoing theme of “Getting to Zero,” supported by UNAIDS’ multi-year HIV/AIDS strategy for Zero New Infections, Zero AIDS Related Deaths, and Zero Discrimination, is an opportunity for young people to speak out about how to get to an AIDS Free Generation. Thirty years into the epidemic, we are seeing notable declines in HIV prevalence among young people, as described in the recent UNAIDS report, Results. This is fabulous news! At the same time, our efforts to prevent HIV must not falter when 40 percent of all new HIV infections are still among youth age 15-24. According to the report: “Young people are a fulcrum. They remain at the centre of the epidemic and they have the power, through their leadership, to definitively change the course of the AIDS epidemic.” It goes on to urge young people to engage in and lead the fight against HIV.
To find out more about World AIDS Day, go to http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/world-aids-day/
To read the new UNAIDS report, go to: http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/JC2434_WorldAIDSday_results_en.pdf.
Nov 15, 2012
This summer, during the International AIDS Conference, youth activists from across the country called on the President to establish the first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.
The road to an AIDS-free generation begins by prioritizing youth. Today’s young people are the first generation that has never known a world without HIV and AIDS. In the United States, almost 40% of new HIV infections are young people ages 13 to 29. Despite this harsh reality, young people and their allies are determined to end this pandemic once and for all.
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is a nationwide call to action for our communities, schools and government to invest in young people’s health, education, and leadership in the fight against HIV & AIDS.
To achieve this day, we need you. Sign the petition – as either an individual or an organization – that calls on President Obama, Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the HIV & AIDS community to annually recognize April 10 as National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.
With your support, we can achieve the dream of an AIDS-free generation.
For young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who are passionate about HIV & AIDS work, apply today to become a National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Ambassador. Help us make sure the day truly represents young people like you! Applications are due November 30. For more information, click here.
Nov 8, 2012
Check out this entry on Huff Post by Advocates for Youth’s own fantastic Youth Activist Network Coordinator, Ian O’Brien (also known as amplify user AFY_Ian)! It features an interview with GACC safesite Jeremiah at St. John’s University in New York!
Nov 7, 2012
by Deb Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth congratulates President Barack Obama on his historic reelection. We also celebrate the amazing role that young people played within his administration and his reelection, and we recognize the growing power of youth to drive social and cultural change for a better world. Young people represented approximately 19 percent of the electorate yesterday—a larger percentage even than in 2008!
In the years ahead, we call on President Obama to stand with us in recognition of every young person’s right to honest sexual health education, safe and affordable sexual health services, and an equity of social, educational, and economic opportunity – the type of opportunity that builds healthy lives and strong communities.
Nov 6, 2012
by Amanda Wake, Forward Together Youth Organizing Manager
It’s safe to say that almost everyone is going to feel the outcomes of the election on Today. Whether it’s personal, because of a local school board election, a state proposition or the Presidential run off, we all have something at stake. And even though they aren’t old enough to vote, youth may feel it the most. But their age isn’t keeping young people from getting involved in the election and making sure that their voice is being heard.
Wednesday, October 31st in Oakland California, Advocates for Youth CAMI organization, Forward Together took to the streets for Trick or Vote! Prepared with Get Out The Vote materials, tally sheets, signs and costumes they called on their community to Vote for Youth this election. Trick or Vote is a fun way to engage youth in the elections and practice talking about the issues that they care about with adults in their city.
Another way to engage youth is through the Strong Families Vote for Us picture frames where you can put pictures of your friends and family in an electronic frame and share it online. The network of Strong Families members are using these frames to remind folks that we are not just voting for policies and politicians, we are voting for our families, friends and our community. So put your picture in the Vote for Us frame and ask your community to get to the polls on Tuesday.
If you are looking for a way to start the conversation around civic engagement and the elections with youth in your organization, classroom or home, check out the Strong Families Youth Vote for Us Guide to Civic Engagement. To access it click here and then click on “Youth Guide.”This guide outlines ways that young people and folks who cannot vote can be involved this electoral season. There’s also a translated Spanish guide available.
Additionally Forward Together engaged local, cultural artists to create images that boost morale and support folks in being civically engaged. Check them out, find the one that speaks to how you feel about the elections and share it on your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or blog.
When it comes to the elections unfortunately youth don’t get a lot of attention because they aren’t always the ones who are filling out ballots at the polls or donating to campaigns, but their voice still matters. Adults and youth need to make civic engagement accessible, we need to train future voters and we need to make sure that youth aren’t silenced in the process.
Nov 2, 2012
Election Day is coming fast, and every vote matters!
So be ready for November 6 – make sure you know your polling place and know what kind of ID to bring.
Oct 19, 2012
Since Amplify launched on January 1, 2009, tens of thousands of you have participated in campaigns, sent letters to legislators and other decision makers, and contributed blogs, pictures, and videos. You made Amplify the diverse, informed, engaged community that it is – and one that has over a million visitors every year. We at Advocates for Youth are awed by your commitment to youth reproductive and sexual health and rights – and honored to be a part of your activism.
That’s why it brings us such great pleasure to unveil the redesign of www.amplifyyourvoice.org.
It’s streamlined, a breeze to navigate, easier to post photos/videos/art works and more connected to social media than ever before. Just type in the “add your voice” box to get started!
This site showcases the work of Advocates for Youth’s youth activist programs, as well as that of youth activists around the United States and around the world.
We’re also thrilled to introduce Amplify’s seven featured youth contributors – Hannah, D’Laney, Nefertiti, Karlee, Emilio, Briana, and Karachi. They are motivated and talented activists who are making sure youth voices are heard online as well as in their communities.
We hope you’ll try out the site – take actions, read blogs, and of course join if you haven’t already! We’re still in the testing phase of some features, so contact us if you have suggestions or experience problems.
Oct 7, 2012
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.
Groups attending the conference included:
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. This year, the groups attending the Urban Retreat included:
State Youth Activist Councils from Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, and South Carolina. 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 members from Jamaica, Nepal, and Nigeria lead councils in their home countries to promote youth inclusion and youth sexual health and rights.
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 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!
“I had such a wonderful time in DC (like always) advocating for Reproductive Justice and being around such amazing young leaders in our country! Urban Retreat always reminds me that I am never alone in this fight!” – Bree, Young Women of Color Leadership Council (more…)