Em-URGE-ing Voices

Posts Categorized: Sarah

For Queer Youth, Statutory Rape Laws Can Sometimes Do More Harm than Good

Earlier this summer, an 18 year-old Floridian woman walked across a football field and accepted her high school diploma, sights set enthusiastically on the future. “She is scheduled to attend the medical program at [a local college]. She’s also scheduled to audition for The Voice in Texas. She has been singing her whole life and also 4 years of choir” her father proudly told me. The young woman in question was Kaitlyn Hunt. But despite only having a high school diploma and boundless ambition, Hunt was the one teaching me, a queer 24 year-old university student, about legality, homophobia, and sex-negativity. By now, you have likely heard Hunt’s story. During her senior year at Sebastian High School, the then-17 year-old began a relationship with a 14 year-old peer. After Hunt… Read more »

Like, Favorite, Retweet: At Netroots Nation, Sharing Was Caring

From National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change to CatalystCon to the National Womens Studies Association’s annual convening, I’ve been to my fair share of conferences. When I attended Netroots Nation last week, I was certain that that it would feel old hate. After all, conferences like this tend to follow a predictable template: 1. Tote bags are a given. 2. Where there are tote bags, there will be free swag.

Owning the Millennial Stereotype: Progressive Youth and Netroots Nation 2013

Last week, I attended Netroots Nation in beautiful San Jose with my fellow correspondent Samantha and several members of the Choice USA staff. The four day-long conference brought together 6,000 organizers from around the United States to talk politics, social justice, new media, and the ways in which we go about furthering our progressive causes. While Choice USA’s primary “cause” is reproductive justice, we also advocate for America’s youth. People under 35 are the most affected by legislation surrounding reproductive agency, gender identity, and sex education, yet we are the most likely to be excluded from these discussions. When a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks enters a state legislature, we–the youth–are not the ones who directly vote on it, discard it, or make it into law. The senators… Read more »

The South And Marriage Equality, Part III: The Intersecti​onal Blueprint Of A Movement

From abolition to the civil rights, the American South has been the battleground for many social justice movements. When a place’s past is an intricate mural depicting so many hard-won struggles against various oppressions, it’s impossible to approach any ongoing conflict with anything but an intersectional perspective, acknowledging that all resistance to social change has originated from a common ancestor: Patriarchy. Working against patriarchy means not only working toward LGBTQ rights, but also those of women, the poor, and people of color. “Working on other issues that aren’t necessarily ‘gay issues’ may actually help to bridge whatever perceived divides there are between people of color and white gay folks. I say ‘white gay folks’ because they are “the members of the queer community most likely to be unaware of and… Read more »

The South And Marriage Equality, Part II: Are States’ Rights A Wrong?

While racial, reproductive, and economic equality are the apples and oranges of modern social justice and should not be compared too intensely, one thing remains certain: They have all taken–and continue to take–a long time to make their way to the American South. The projected trajectory of marriage equality will likely follow that of abolition, integration, and abortion accessibility. Much of the opposition within the South appears to be tied up in states’ rights, or the pervasive ideology that a state’s government–not that of the United States–should wield the most control over the legislation which affects its citizens. When asked his thoughts on marriage equality last December, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham responded, “The question for us is who should decide these things? Should it be a handful of judges… Read more »

The South And Marriage Equality, Part I: Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Days after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court hearings for Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, Sue Everhart, a chief figure in Georgia’s Republican Party, voiced disdain over the proceedings. “Lord, I’m going to get in trouble over this, but it is not natural for two women or two men to be married,” Everhart told The Marietta Daily Journal. “If it was natural, they would have the equipment to have a sexual relationship.” Juxtaposed with the masses of celebratory, often high-profile, marriage equality ralliers on the marble steps of America’s highest court, Everhart’s sentiments are a sobering reminder that the posterchildren of the anti-gay opposition are changing. The National Organization for Marriage–the leading anti-marriage equality organization in the States–has suffered critical drops in funding in the past year. The… Read more »

Alabama Legislators Try to Pull a Mississippi

If you haven’t been keeping up with reproductive rights happenings in the Southern states, no worries! Here’s what happened on Plea, a dramedy about a group of young adults in Alabama who can’t access birth control because their state legislators are nincompoops! Several weeks ago, the Alabama House of Reps introduced HB-57, a measure which would require abortion clinics to have a doctor present for every procedure. While this seems okey-dokey in print, HB-57 is really just one of many sneaky bills designed to hurt—not help—clinics and those seeking out abortions. This legislation imposes unnecessary and costly restrictions on providers in the hopes that they will be forced to shut down. The representative who is sponsoring this bill is Mary Sue McClurkin, a woman who is presumably not of reproductive… Read more »

Georgia Senators Try to Take Away Their Own Right to Abortion

At Choice USA, we make habit of talking about older politicians’ assaults on youth’s reproductive agency. We’re so accustomed to these attacks against comprehensive sex education and birth control accessibility that it would be surprising to see politicians infringe upon their own right to choose. But that’s exactly what’s happening in Georgia. The newly-minted Senate Bill 98 seeks to restrict birth control accessibility among state employees who receive insurance benefits. The bill blatantly states that, “No abortion coverage shall be provided” and that it “would provided certain exceptions” to that abortion restriction. While SB 98 seems like an attempt to manage the debt caused by Georgia’s recession by decreasing government spending, it’s a classic example of sex discrimination via legislation. You would never see a bill restricting access to funding… Read more »

Thoughts On Creating Change, Part II: Let’s Map Our Desires!

In my previous post on The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual conference, I wrote about the ways large gatherings like Creating Change help sustain LGBT activism, including queer reproductive justice activism. On the second day of Creating Change, these dialogues surrounding our bodies came to a head when I attended Sex Justice: Mapping Our Desire, an institute which lasted from dawn until dusk. According to the conference program, the session was designed to “focus on our desires: How we have shaped them and how they have shaped us. In this space, we can begin to consider: ‘What is just sex? How can my personal claiming of my desire foster more just sexual communities? Where do I begin?’ I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. But… Read more »

Thoughts on Creating Change: On Solidarity in Community, Part I

It’s been nearly two weeks since The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Creating Change conference in Atlanta, as recapped extensively by Lydia and Amanda. The high of sharing space with thousands of activists has since tapered off, and I’ve had time to wash the remaining glitter from my hair and reflect on what I gained from those five days of institutes, workshops, and collaboration with queers and allies from across the nation. There’s something to be said for this conference taking place in Georgia, my home state. I’m all too familiar with our ongoing fight for marriage equality, not to mention the Southern state’s problems with homophobia, the KKK, and abortion access. While Atlanta is one the most gay-friendly cities in the US, a short drive into neighboring rural… Read more »