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“I’m saying goodbye to people’s perception of me and who I am. I’m not saying goodbye to me, because this has always been me.” – Bruce Jenner, 20/20, April 2015

“I don’t mind being different. Different is special! I thinkwhat matters most is what a person is like inside. And inside, I am happy. I am having fun. I am proud!” – Jazz Jennings, transgender teenager

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like …

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Many of us spent this beautiful weekend indoors, binge-watching Orange is the New Black.  For those who did not, you missed both a great TV show, and a valuable lesson in anatomy, in episode four: A Whole Other Hole. The conversation began among inmates Poussey, Taystee, Janae, and Cindy.  The topic:  How many holes do we have down there? Poussey insists we have two, the vagina and the one for pee, while others are sure we only have one. Sexed

The group moves to the showers for personal verification, …

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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!

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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 …

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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, …

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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.

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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

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We’ve been hearing stories this month of students in high school who have not been permitted to pose in yearbook photos or attend graduation with their babies.  But this one takes the cake:

“A Michigan school district has barred two pregnant students from showing their baby bumps in the high school yearbook — a decision made to keep with the state’s abstinence-based approach to sex education, according to the superintendent.”

What?  So, showing any evidence of pregnancy in a young person’s yearbook picture is a violation of a …

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Elizabeth Smart, who famously was kidnapped, held in captivity for months, and raped, had this to say about her feelings during the ordeal:

…she was raised in a religious household and recalled a school teacher who spoke once about abstinence and compared sex to chewing gum.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you know longer have worth, you know longer have value,” Smart said.

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At George Washington High School in West Virginia, students were required to attend an assembly where abstinence-only speaker Pam Stenzel told students that if they take birth control, their parents hate them; that condoms aren’t safe; and bringing some members of the audience to tears by shaming and scorning those who had ever had sex. The assembly was funded by a conservative religious organization and advertised with fliers that proclaimed “God’s plan for sexual purity.”

Katelyn Campbell, a senior, was not having it; she has filed a complaint with …

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So, I love how the anti abortion lobby’s response to the death of Savita, which has sparked national and international outcry, is that “we don’t know” if hastening her miscarriage would have saved her.

One, experts believe it would have.

And two, so you’re saying that whether or not Savita would have died the only criteria we should consider.  That the facts that 1) the pregnancy was already miscarrying and would not have survived,  2) Savita repeatedly asked to hasten the miscarriage because she was …

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Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the Obama administration’s plan for reaching an AIDS-Free generation.

The “blueprint” calls for starting more infected people on AIDS drugs, circumcising men in high-prevalence countries and making sure that every HIV-positive pregnant woman is treated.

Read The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation

Watch Secretary Clinton’s remarks about World AIDS Day:

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Nude protest outside Speaker Boehner’s office yesterday!

The trio had the words “AIDS cuts kill” painted on their bodies and had linked arms with four men who also disrobed as part of the protest. The nude protesters, along with dozens of other clothed demonstrators chanted slogans, including: “People with AIDS are under attack. What do we do? Fight back.”…

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New info on HIV among adolescents and young adults from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that young people represent a quarter of all new HIV infections.


  • “Nearly 60% of new infections among youth occur in African Americans, about 20% in Hispanics/Latinos and about 20% in whites.
  • About 70% of youth were infected with HIV through male-to-male sex, 20% from heterosexual sex, 4% from injection drug use and about 4% from a combination of male-to-male sex and injection drug use.
  • Young gay and bisexual men and

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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists today called for hormonal birth control medication to be made available over-the-counter, without a prescription.

It makes sense  – hormonal BC does meet the requirements for a switch to OTC status: “For a medicine to be granted OTC status, it must have a wide safety margin and be effective, and must bear understandable labeling to ensure proper use.” – Check, check, and doable.   Birth control is extremely safe.  Depending on the method, it is up to 99 percent effective when used

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UNAIDS released a report in advance of World AIDS Day with hopeful news about the epidemic:  there has been nearly a 50 percent reduction in new infections across 25 low and middle income countries.  In Africa, AIDS deaths have been cut by one-third.  And around the world, in the last two years 60 percent more people have been able to access HIV treatment.  As UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe put it, “We are moving from despair to hope.”

Young people are a key part of this progress.

UNAIDS:  “The …

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A woman in Ireland has died because doctors refused to treat her miscarriage.

Savita Halappanavar didn’t come to the hospital for an abortion; she was experiencing a miscarriage. Doctors had told her the baby would not survive.

Then, several times in the three days while she miscarried in extreme pain, they told her they couldn’t take any further steps to end the pregnancy.  They had to let the miscarriage happen in its own time, no matter how badly it hurt her.

With her cervix fully dilated for …

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It’s Transgender Awareness Week 2012, a time to spotlight the issues trans individuals face in our culture.  Here are a few infographics about what it means to be young and transgender today, great for sharing on Facebook; and if you or someone you love is confronting gender identity issues, check out Advocates’ “I think I might be transgender,” written by and for trans young people.

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A school library in Utah has deemed the book In Our Mothers’ House too controversial for students of any age to read without parental permission.

Patricia Polacco, famous for her envelope-pushing work on such topics as quilting, kittens, and friendship with neighbors, is the author of this edgy work.   Stills from the book Utah schools are protecting students from are after the jump; brace yourself.…

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Your vote will have a real impact on young people and their families. That’s why Advocates for Youth has partnered with the Strong Families Initiative to help create the Strong Families Guide to Civic Participation.

Every family is different. But we all need and deserve government that will protect the rights, recognition, and resources we need to thrive. Use this guide to help you make informed decisions about candidates, ballot measures, and any other public policy proposals. Share it with your friends, family, coworkers, community organizations, and religious groups …

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Amplify will undergo site maintenance beginning today until late Friday.  You may encounter errors posting during this time.  Blogs posted during this time may "disappear" and need to be reposted.  We encourage you to postpone posting until Saturday morning.  Thank you! 

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The 13th Annual Urban Retreat starts this week –  September 27 to October 1!

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. 

This year, …

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 The people that bring you Amplify, among other exciting projects, are seeking a new team member!  Check it out:

The Web Development & Technology Associate is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Advocates for Youth’s organizational websites, online activism platforms and other technology initiatives.

Roles and Responsibilities
• Design and develop changes on Advocates’ websites using content management systems and current web technology. With web staff, develop and implement web based applications and solutions.
• Update and manage content of organizational websites.
• Build database driven online forms as …

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The One Voice Summit essay contest is an opportunity for U.S. based youth activists ages 16-24,  interested in the intersection between climate change and reproductive and sexual health and rights.

Win a trip to Washington, DC, to participate in the seventh annual summit, November 16-19, 2012! Enter an essay contest for youth advocates co-sponsored by Advocates for Youth, SIECUS, and the Sierra Club!

Are you are interested in sexual and reproductive health and rights? Do you want to unite local-to-global advocacy efforts around issues like international family planning, comprehensive

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 A California school district is being sued for offering an abstinence-only curriculum that is biased and contains biases and stereotypes.

As the ACLU describes it

The textbook that Clovis Unified uses for high school sex education does not mention condoms at all, even in chapters about HIV/AIDS and on preventing STDs and unintended pregnancy. Instead, for example, the textbook lists that the ways to prevent STDs are to respect yourself, get plenty of rest, go out as a group and practice abstinence.

California’s law requires that sex education …

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Contraception benefits under the Affordable Care Act go into effect tomorrow, August 1!

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Last night at Youth Force young activists from around the world were joined by Chris Locklear  from the Names Project to create panels for the AIDS Memorial Quilt in honor of loved ones lost to the disease (pictured below).

This July marks the first time in nearly 20 years that the full Quilt has been displayed — and Advocates for Youth is proud to invite you to join us for this historic event on Saturday, July 21.

During the Opening Ceremony on the National Mall in Washington, DC, youth …

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Here’s an email we sent out today to thank those who participated in #BC4US in the weeks leading up to Independence Day!  Thanks for participating!

In the weeks leading up to July 4, we asked you to declare your independence from social conservatives and show your support for President Obama and Secretary Sebelius in their decision to make birth control available with no co-pay. And your response was phenomenal. You shared hundreds of pictures and online actions standing up for birth control. Check out some of the pics here

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 Good news out of Texas on the progress of Kristene Chapa,  one of 2 lesbians shot in a Portland park in June.

Kristine Chapa, the 18-year-old Texas teen who was shot in the head along with her girlfriend Mollie Olgin, 19, who was killed, is making remarkable progress, having left Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital and entered rehab on Wednesday. The teen, who her Army veteran brother calls a fighter, has also improved enough to make invaluable contributions to the investigation of her attacker, helping to update the sketch

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[I am posting this on behalf of Janine Kossen, Advocates for Youth’s Director of Public Policy.]

Every July 11th, we observe World Population Day, a time to call attention to the essential part that reproductive health plays in creating a just and equitable world. To commemorate this momentous occasion in 2012, world leaders will meet in London on Wednesday to call for unprecedented international political commitment and resources to provide an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries with lifesaving contraceptives, information, and services by 2020.


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On July 11 in London, the Family Planning Summit will begin.  Along with the UK Government, UNFPA, and other partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the summit, which aims to “launch a global movement to provide an additional 120 million women in the world’s poorest countries access to lifesaving family planning information, services and supplies by 2020.”

In the poorest countries, contraception is a matter not just of family planning, but of life and death.  Complications from pregnancy, including childbirth and unsafe abortion, are the number …

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Two lesbian teenagers were shot this weekend by an unknown assailant in Portland, Texas.  Mollie Olgin, 19, has died, while Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, is in critical but stable condition at the hospital.  Authorities don’t yet know the motivation behind the shooting.  But activists around the country are honoring the young couple and praying for Mary Kristene’s recovery. We want to express our heartfelt sorrow and support for the victims and their families in this terrible time. Below are a few locations where you can attend a vigil for …

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 Last Friday, we alerted Virginia residents to a protest against a proposed new law that would set onerous regulations on Virginia women’s health clinics, in an attempt to shut down most clinics in the state which offered abortions.

Hundreds of protestors turned out  to protest the new regulations!

Ultimately the board passed the regulation – but exempted existing abortion clinics from having to meet the requirements (limiting them to new clinics).  

"Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers" or TRAP laws are increasingly a tactic used by the far right …

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Yesterday we wrote about the case of Lisa Brown, the legislator who spoke out against Michigan’s oppressive new abortion bill, and who was banned from speaking on the Michigan House floor because she used the word "vagina."  Another lawmaker, Rep. Barb Bynum, was banned because she mentioned vasectomies.

Last night over 2500 people joined a protest and performance of the Vagina Monologues, hosted by playwright Eve Ensler.  The Associated Press wrote up the event:

Billed on Facebook as the "Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!" event,

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

The Communications and Special Events Intern will be spending …

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

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

So Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas banned her from the House floor…for saying the word "vagina" in …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will profoundly limit access to abortion …

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Via ThinkProgress:

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

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

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

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

Said the editorial’s author:  “The amount of attention paid to these minuscule …

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

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

Applicants should have a strong interest in reproductive and sexual health and rights; be good writers or content …

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

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

Urooj Arshad: Many young people have felt stigmatized talking about sexual health, and there are not a lot of resources for them.

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

A few important facts:


  1. The study asked about same-sex behavior, not orientation, so a person

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

The headline for sexual health was: no headline.

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

The only statistically significant change was …

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

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

Hogwash, or as Aimee said on Wednesday, …

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

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

This operation’s cover had …

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This weekend, the New York Times carried a different kind of abortion story — one where the woman’s experience is notable because she did NOT experience barriers, harassment or condemnation.

All I had to do was call the clinic and make an appointment. I don’t have to be ashamed or terrified, because brave women before me fought to make abortion legal, have gone public with their stories of shame and terror and made sure that no woman ever again has to die from a back-alley abortion or bear an

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As the television season starts winding down, I wanted to take a look at a few shows that have included a parent’s point of view about a teen having sex or thinking about having sex, and how well or badly the shows have dealt with parental communication and discussions about safer sex. I’ve seen a lot of bad this season, and unfortunately not too much good.


The very premise of this usually funny and sweet sitcom is strange from a sexual health point of view: a single …

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In December of 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s recommendation that the emergency contraception pill Plan B OneStep be permitted to be sold over the counter. Sebelius expressed concern that younger teens and pre-teens were not cognitively advanced enough to use the product without talking to a health care professional. Research published in April’s issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology explored this supposed potential misunderstanding of how to use Plan B by providing an EC product to young women who requested it at a clinic, …

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In unexpected good news,  Utah governor Gary Herbert has vetoed the abstinence-only bill recently passed by the state’s legislature.

Herbert has said he vetoed the bill because it requires that parents be given fewer options for their children’s education, and because most Utah parents currently allow their children to take sex education classes:

"If HB 363 were to become law, parents would no longer have the option the overwhelming majority is currently choosing for their children. I am unwilling to conclude that the state knows better than

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Wisconsin’s state legislature has passed a "sex education" bill that undoes many of the tenets in the more progressive 2010 bill, and it now moves on to Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to sign it. The new sex education law:

1) Transforms sex education "requirements" into "recommendations"
2) Removes the following topics from sex ed curriculum recommendations
"pregnancy; parenting; body image;  gender stereotypes; and the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved by the federal Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to …

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 What a greeaaat blog from California Latinas for Reproductive Justice on RH Reality Check.  We need to change the conversation around "teen pregnancy prevention efforts! Read the entire blog here or read the new brief from CLRJ,  Supporting Latina/o Youth: Strengthening Latina/o Young Families and Communities.

Keep Your Stigma: Latina/o Youth Need Real Support
by Marisol Franco, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ)

What comes to mind when the words “pregnancy,” “Latina” and “teen” are used in the same sentence? You may be surprised at how reality differs

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All this week, the long-running comic strip Doonesbury will be tackling a new law in Texas that requires women to have a sonogram before they are permitted to have an abortion. 

 ©2010 G.B. Trudeau

Read Doonesbury here.

Doonesbury’s writer, Garry Trudeau, has been writing the strip for more than 40 years, has satirized dozens of political figures, and has taken on war, the environment, the economy, political scandal, and dozens of other issues, but hadn’t previously addressed abortion, according to an interview with Reuters.

Some newspaper …

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March 10th is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – a time to educate, include and empower communities across the country about the impact that HIV and AIDS has had on women and girls.

This year’s theme is “Every Moment is a Deciding Moment” to show that you are greater than this disease and you have empowered yourself and your community to get educated, get involved, get treated.

Women have been hit hard by this disease and now it is time for us to confront it head on. …

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Updated: Dorothy Bond resigned yesterday after widespread outcry about her remarks.

A public high school principal in Tennessee is taking a stand on whether or not LGBT and/or pregnant students should be verbally harassed.  Her verdict:  They certainly should!

“At first she was talking about PDA and she turned around and she directly pointed to the gay people and said if you’re gay you’re going to hell and if you’re pregnant, you’re [sic] life is over,” Amber Whittiemore said.

…The next day, [parent] Snipes was told Dorothy Bond said,

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In case you missed it, this weekend Rick Santorum said that in addition to believing that employers should be able to opt-out of covering contraception,  they shouldn’t have to cover prenatal testing, because many women abort fetuses with Down’s syndrome.

1) Even if you planned to carry this pregnancy to term, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that the child has Down’s syndrome, a difficult and potentially life-threatening condition? 

2) I thought conservatives were opposed to a "nanny state."  Yet here Santorum is saying information should be withheld (or …

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Here’s a statement from Advocates’ Executive Director Debra Hauser on today’s White House announcement that insurance companies must cover birth control when religious employers object.

White House Offers Solution on Birth Control Coverage, but the Goal Posts Have Already Moved

Young People Outraged by Continued Attacks on Birth Control

Today’s announcement from the White House represents a good-faith attempt to balance the critical need for access to birth control coverage with exemptions for religious employers. We support this decision because it keeps the policy focus where it belongs —

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There have been a couple of important articles this week about the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ young people in Minnesota, specifically in Michelle Bachmann’s district.  One appeared in Rolling Stone, and one in The American Independent.   I  encourage you to read both of the articles – though they are infuriating. 

The Anoka-Hennepin school district has a policy that says that teachers and school officials may not discuss homosexuality in positive terms; they must remain "neutral" on the issue. Students participating in a lawsuit against the district …

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Great news today! The 9th Circuit Court has declared California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in the state, unconstitutional.

In May of 2008, California’s Supreme Court ruled that California law restricting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Proposition 8 was a ballot measure and a constitutional amendment that overruled the court’s decision.  It passed with 52% of the vote, after heavy lobbying from religious conservatives, especially the Mormon church. 

In 2010 Judge Vaughan Walker overturned the decision, finding it unconstitutional. Today’s decision upholds Judge Walker’s decision.

The decision will likely …

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You may recall that Jamie Lynn Spears, child actress and sister of Britney Spears, shocked her fans in 2007 when she announced that she was pregnant.  This week, Jamie Lynn has an essay in Glamour Magazine describing her experiences, and it’s really worth reading.  Even though she leads a fairly privileged life, her experience is in many ways similar to many teens’ experiences and speaks to a lot of sad truths about our culture.

Right up front Spears says:

Casey was my first love. Since the day I saw

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Huh. So, Komen said they ended their relationship with Planned Parenthood because it was under investigation, and their new policy says they can’t  give grants to organizations under investigation. 

Mother Jones points out: Penn State is also under investigation — for improperly handling reports of the rape of multiple children. Yet Komen has taken no steps toward revoking their grants.

Guys, it’s almost starting to seem like Komen’s whole "under investigation" policy was only a pretext for punishing Planned Parenthood — like Komen has an anti-abortion agenda of …

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Does it make sense for the world’s largest breast cancer charity to stop giving money to the world’s largest reproductive health care system?  

It doesn’t to me.  But as reproductive health care advocates and many others were shocked to learn yesterday, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has announced that it will stop giving breast cancer screening and prevention grants to Planned Parenthood.

Anti-abortion activists had been lobbying the Komen Foundation for some time, saying that Komen shouldn’t give money to an organization that provides …

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In Friday’s Washington Post, Christina Hoff ommers questioned CDC findings on sexual violence.  Calling the study "careless" and saying it relies on "the familiar jargon of feminist theory," Sommers even puts the word sexism in distasteful air quotes, as in, "the report also called for more research on ‘sexism.’"

Sommers takes issue with the phasing of the CDC’s question about sexual assault:

In a telephone survey with a 30 percent response rate, interviewers did not ask participants whether they had been raped. Instead of such straightforward questions….[the sample

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This week Tony Perkins of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council denounced the BioWare video game company’s decision to allow same-sex relationships in the new online role-playing game Star Wars:The Old Republic.
Said Perkins:

In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists! [Ed. note:  Vomit]  The new video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, has added a special feature: gay relationships. Bioware, the company that developed the game, said it’s launching a same-sex romance component to satisfy some

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Even though Rick Santorum’s recent comments about abstinence lessons in education have been roundly denounced as false, even by the head of one of the programs he was referring to, he’s still sticking to that whole "Obama hates abstinence" line.  

As ThinkProgress and Jezebel report, last night Santorum upped the ante, observing that Obama hates abstinence because he hates poor people.  

I’ve addressed before how profoundly untrue it is the claim that comprehensive sex education doesn’t teach abstinence. (The new National Sexuality Education Standards name it …

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Watching the State of the Union Address last night, we didn’t hear too much about young people, but what we heard was good: more assistance with college tuition, and an endorsement of a path to citizenship for young people who want to "staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country."  Much of the speech focused on the economy and how to create jobs and ease the burden of unemployment and income inequity, while the President also touched on energy reform and the his achievements while in office. Here’s …

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A study has come out this week that contradicts one of the anti-abortion movement’s attempts to mislead the public:  the common claim that abortion is bad for a woman’s health.

Not so, says a study out this week in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology

From Reuters:

Researchers [in the United States] found that women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.

It’s not that surprising, since abortion procedures are …

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A new study from the CDC examined unintended pregnancies among teens, and found that half of teens who were sexually active but didn’t want to become pregnant, were not using contraception. 

Why weren’t they using contraception? Some of the findings are troubling: 

 – Thirty percent believed they could not become pregnant at the time (even though about 90 percent of sexually active teens using no method become pregnant within a year of having sex)

 – 25 percent didn’t use contraception because they believed their partner didn’t want to …

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Two reports with ramifications for youth’s reproductive and sexual health and rights came out this week.

GLSEN’s Playgrounds and Prejudice: Elementary School Climate in the United States found that almost half of students hear "gay" used in a negative way or hear the word "retard" used as an insult – these are the most commonly heard negative remarks in elementary schools.  Over a third have heard sexist or gender-stereotyping remarks. And, while most students feel safe at school, gender-nonconforming students are much likelier to feel unsafe in school.  Students …

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The content of sex education lessons varies wildly from state to state and even from district to district.  Some students receive no instruction about sexual health at all. Millions learn that girls shouldn’t have ideas and boys are like microwaves.   Only a small percent receive comprehensive and age-appropriate instruction throughout their time in school.

The National Sexuality Education Standards, released this week, attempt to change all that, providing clear, consistent, and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum,core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and

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Thanks to Rick Santorum’s comments about contraception, and his subsequent attempts to dial back those comments, one of the weekend’s two Republican presidential debates contained a lengthy interlude about contraception.  As soon as Romney was done minimizing the importance of something which over 98% of sexually active women have used, he managed to force out "Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone.”  

That would be an adequate contraception philosophy if it truly reflected Republican, or even Romney’s philosophy, but we know it doesn’t. …

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Update:   There has been some push back on this story, with some writers claiming it distorts the facts and Santorum denying it.  It’s true that we should accurately characterize what happened.   But what I want to highlight is his comment that the baby wouldn’t have survived either way.  That doesn’t matter to blanket abortion bans.  Many women requesting later-term abortions face similar circumstances, but anti-abortion activists don’t really care.  Consider this story from Nebraska and its similarities to the Santorum family’s tragedy.  The bottom …

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The Milton Hershey School is standing by its decision to reject admission to a student because he is HIV positive. Said the spokesman in an interview with ABC:

…the school was most worried the boy would have sex — if not now, at some point in his future years at the school, where students in groups of 10 to 12 live together in on-campus housing.

"Our kids are no different than teenagers anywhere else," she said. "Despite encouraging abstinence, we can not be 100 percent certain our kids are

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Every year around the beginning of school, Beloit College releases its  notorious “mindset list” : statements that describe cultural realities for entering freshmen. The statements, like this year’s “The Communist Party has never been the official political party in Russia” or “Men have always been Martians, women, Venusians” remind older folks of how times have changed – or not.

In the spirit of Beloit’s work, I’ve compiled a few facts about reproductive and sexual health that have always been true for young people starting college this year (the class …

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New surveillance data from the CDC shows that although new HIV infections in the United States have remained stable, they continue to rise among some sub-populations, particularly young African American men.

Young men who have sex with men experienced over a quarter of new HIV cases, even though they make up one percent or less of the population – with young African American men experiencing half of those cases.

As a nation we have planted (and continue to plant) the seeds of neglect and prejudice among young men who …

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In a Louis CK standup routine, the comedian observes that opponents of marriage equality have no real legal or moral position. He jokes that while proponents of equal marriage can make a series of reasoned and sensible arguments, opponents can really only say, “But Your Honor….they’re fags! I rest my case.”

Some attorneys in a California trial this week seem to think “But Your Honor, they’re fags!” is a perfectly valid argument. But it’s not a same sex marriage hearing. It’s a murder trial.

In February of 2008, Brandon …

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USA Today has published two articles posing some different theories about why HIV rates are so high in the Southern United States, each of them informative but troubling.

As we know, the South suffers from the highest rates in the United States, with the virus concentrated in the African American/Black community. No one reason exists for the disparity in rates – rather, it is a combination of a number of social factors, including poverty, lack of education, and lack of access to health care. USA Today’s analysis …

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For a website devoted to calling out hypocrisy around sexuality, it’s a little easier when the family values crowd falls: a Larry Craig (who supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage), a Vitter or Spitzer (who denounced prostitution while participating in it), a John Ensign (who had an extramarital affair after denouncing President Clinton and after much talk of the sanctity of marriage).

It’s gloomier when it’s an ally – someone with a 100% rating on both abortion rights and gay rights – someone who denounces abstinence-only funding

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Research came out today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that GLB young people are shockingly underserved, and facing health risks on every front.

Across the nine sites that assessed sexual identity, the prevalence among gay or lesbian students was higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for a median of 63.8% of all the risk behaviors measured, and the prevalence among bisexual students was higher than the prevalence among heterosexual students for a median of 76.0% of all the risk behaviors measured. 

Breaking …

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 I’m HIGHLY amused by this video, in which Original Star Trek star George Takei responds to Tennessee’s "Don’t Say Gay" bill by suggesting Tennessee’s students and teacher’s substitute his last name for the word "gay."

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As Amplify’s resident Sports Expert*, I’m interested in the recent uptick in GLBTQ issues in sports.  For good and bad, athletes are being forced more and more to acknowledge the existence of GLBTQ people and confront homophobia in their field.  As a blog called OutSports puts it, for sports, it’s been the gayest month ever.  

It started with Kobe Bryant’s slinging homophobic slurs at a ref when the referee made a call he didn’t like.  What sexual orientation has to do with basketball fouls I do not know, …

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via GLSEN:

Help GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) inform education policymakers and the public about what’s really going on in our nation’s schools by completing the 2011 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN’s seventh national survey about the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in school.

If you attended high school or middle school sometime during the last school year (2010-2011) and are at least 13 years old, tell us about your experiences in school. (If you did not complete the entire …

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A breakthrough study has confirmed what researchers have long suspected: among heterosexual couples, taking HIV medications very soon after an HIV diagnosis significantly reduces the risk of transmitting HIV to a partner.

A study of 1,763 “serodiscordant” couples, where one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative, found that beginning ARV (antiretroviral) therapy early led to a 96 percent reduction in HIV transmission. There were 28 total HIV infections among the couples in the study, and 27 occurred to couples where the HIV+ partner had not …

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When colleagues told me about Michigan State Representative Dave Agema’s budget proposal to penalize Michigan colleges and universities which provide benefits for same-sex partners, I said: “Surely this is just some kind of misguided attempt to save the state money. Surely, colleagues, it cannot simply be an ideological attack on GLBTQ families. Surely no state legislator would be so asinine as to use the state budget punitively.”

Ah! How naïve of me. As it turns out, Republican Dave Agema is exactly that asinine. He claims that by offering same-sex …

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A recent study found that 98% of sexually active Catholic women in America have used barrier or hormonal methods of birth control at some point in their lives. Ninety eight percent – a vast majority – have defied the teachings of the Catholic church, which instructs its followers not to use "artificial" contraception.

It’s not really that surprising: The Catholic Church has over one billion followers, 68 million in America alone. They’re not sheep. They’re people with free will and a desire to make the best decisions for themselves …

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Former Senator Alan Simpson is not having this current crop of Republicans at all. A strong believer in personal freedom, Simpson recently took Republicans to task for, among other things, homophobia, and extremist anti-abortion stances.  

"Reagan said, ‘stick with your folks,’ but I’m not sticking with people who are homophobic, anti-women — moral values, while you’re diddling your secretary, while you’re giving a speech on moral values. Come on, get off of it.”

“I don’t know anybody running around with a sign that says ‘have an abortion, they’re

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I could not help but laugh when I received this month’s newsletter from the National Abstinence Education Association, an organization committed to supporting funding for abstinence-only programs. I don’t think the NAEA was aiming for humor; no, in classic abstinence-clown form, it was more of a laughing-at than a laughing-with.

Valerie Huber, the organization’s president, was quoted thusly:

"At a time when Congress needs to tighten its fiscal belt, restoring a priority on abstinence education is an investment that could reap great economic, social, and personal rewards," adds Huber.

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A recent report from Human Rights Watch about conditions in Mississippi that perpetuate the HIV epidemic is one of the saddest and most infuriating things I have ever read.

Stigma abounds in Mississippi: 

“Being gay with HIV in Mississippi is a terrible curse,” said Robert B., a 48-year old man living with HIV. “I came here from New York and it is like going back 40 years in time. Everyone treats you like dirt.”

….Joseph P., a 40-year-old man living with HIV in Jackson, Mississippi, described stigma as a fear based on

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There’s a lot of handwringing going on out there about the  Lila Rose/LiveAction supposed expose videos of Planned Parenthood clinic workers, committing the shocking act of providing medical care.

Sure, these journalists activists far right publicity junkies with a stated agenda of going to any lengths to close down Planned Parenthood caught one woman committing the awful crime of saying some things. She’s been fired.

But now they continue to issue breathless press releases about videos which, frankly, are boring.  Like, hey, did you ever want to see a person’s …

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Saturday was the anniversary of the historic Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Today is the so-called "March for Life," for which anti-abortion activists from all over the nation travel to express their point of view that all abortion is wrong and should be entirely illegal. Speaker Boehner has graciously welcomed marchers; Michelle Bachmann will deliver the keynote address at tonight’s celebratory dinner; Sarah Palin has tweeted about it; various Representatives and Senators will speak throughout the day. 

So what are they marching for, and what are …

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Steady yourselves: I have just watched what the Parents’ Television Council deemed "the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen." That’s right. Skins US is here, folks. For those not familiar, the show is based on a show from the UK about a band of supervision-lacking teens and their hijinks.

Skins UK, whose stable of very young actors and writers give it a sheen of credibility, has been on for several seasons, and there has been shock and buzz about it. I myself watched the UK …

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A threat. An attack. A risk. What is the Pope describing here? It’s sex education, of course.
Said the Pope on Monday:

"I cannot remain silent about another attack on the religious freedom of families in certain European countries which mandate obligatory participation in courses of sexual or civic education," the pope said.

The dire threat of sex ed was just a part of the Pope’s annual New Year’s address covered many topics, including religious tolerance (of Catholics)  and not naming your baby a dumb name.  If you’re …

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You’ve probably heard that the Republican National Committee, or RNC, is holding elections for new leadership this month.  Perhaps you saw Jon Stewart’s recap of the debate among the candidates.  One issue on which they are all in lockstep is: that they wish to defund Planned Parenthood.

This is a common meme among anti-choice social conservatives — there’s even a guy with a bill.  Anyone who’s anyone has condemned PP for the abortion services it provides.  But abortion is only 3 percent of the services Planned …

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We’ve talked about Ceara Sturgis before: she is the lesbian teenager whose photo was excluded from the school yearbook because she elected to wear a tuxedo in her photo. Her lawsuit is being tried right now, and it looks like the lawyers for the school district are conducting themselves with all the dignity and logic you would expect:

The school district is offering a different photo in an effort to defeat the claim—a picture of Sturgis in a bikini, the Associated Press reports. "Indeed, it is hard

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The memory of the American public is short, yet somehow, Bristol Palin and her awful PSA for teen pregnancy prevention continue to be burned upon it.

I really can’t say much more about the ad itself than this writer on Daily Kos. The ad is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It pays lip service to protection while actually clinging doggedly to abstinence as the ideal.  It promotes the prim lady/rakish gentleman stereotype. And in either case, it does a half assed job of it. It’s the most painful 30 …

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Here are a few of the many interesting resources,  articles and blogs out there about today, World AIDS Day:

EDIT:  Wanted to add Advocates’ new publication, Young People and HIV: A Changing Epidemic Calls for a Realistic Approach to Prevention.

Advocates’ own World AIDS Day Blogathonwww.amplifyyourvoice.org/worldaidsday. Come share your story! 

Time Blog:  World AIDS Day 2010:  Here’s the Good News
Infection rates have fallen, the Pope has granted approval for the use of condoms in some circumstances to prevent HIV transmission, and the drug …

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Two weeks ago we learned that Sarah Palin’s daughter Willow had done some name-calling on Facebook, including calling someone a "faggot."  At that time I called on Sarah Palin to denounce this behavior and let the GLBTQ teens of America know that she doesn’t condone the use of hate speech.

Palin remained silent on the issue for a week, finally making a brief reference to it on Sean Hannity’s radio show:

"She used a bad word when she responded in defense of her family. And her response became

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On Sunday’s Real Housewives of Atlanta, the plot for "Tardy for the Party" singer and wig designer Kim Zolciak revolved around purchasing an "abstinence ring" for her 13 year old daughter Brielle.  Brielle requested the ring after learning about STDs and HIV in school.  Off to the jeweler they went, half-joking about whether Brielle would remain abstinent until 18 or 20.  (Eighteen, they determined:  "Because, you know, college.")  With they jeweler they selected a $3k diamond ring which, the jeweler observed,  "really says abstinence." Brielle proudly showed off the …

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Well, if you’ve been on the Internet for one second tonight, you’ve probably seen these screen shots of Willow Palin responding to some (unpleasant) non-fans of her mom’s show with various insults, including "faggot."

Huffington Post has the pics

What happened here? In both an immediate "Doesn’t Willow know any better?" and in a more long term "What has happened that makes this teen think using this slur is ok?"

I’d like Sarah Palin to address it. She has to know by now: it went up at nine, and …

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Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights slapped the Food and Drug Administration with a well-deserved lawsuit, intended to ensure young women have equal access to Plan B (the morning after pill). 

Here’s a quick timeline on emergency contraception:
1966:  Scientists discovered that the hormones in the birth control pill, taken in larger doses than normal, acted as “postcoital contraception” – that is, it could prevent the woman from becoming pregnant even after she had already had sex.  
1974: The “Yuzpe regimen” was developed  – the …