Em-URGE-ing Voices

Posts Tagged: young people

Assembly Bill 154 and Young Californians: Increasing Access to Safe Abortion Care

California is nationally recognized as one of the most progressive states in the Union and a national trendsetter for progressive issues, including reproductive justice.  In fact, I am proud to report that the Golden State has none of the major types of abortion restrictions, such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions, in place. However, our lack of legal roadblocks to safe, affordable, and accessible abortion care do not mean that every Californian has the same kind of access or that access is uninhibited.  In fact, my home state is the perfect example of why the fight for reproductive justice is always important and never finished.  Assembly Bill 154, or the Early Access to Abortion Bill, is the next piece of vital legislation for Californians,… Read more »

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 »

The Next Step for Young Immigrants

by Raquel Ortega, Choice USA Field Associate A little over a year ago the Obama Administration announced the introduction of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children (among other criteria) the ability to live and work in the country legally for a renewable period of two years. This was one of, if not, the most important immigrants’ rights victory for the immigrant youth movement to date. As a Chicana (Mexican-American), I’ve been awarded many privileges in life that I took for granted most of my life: I had the ability to get a drivers license when I turned 16; I was able to go to a public university, pay in-state tuition and qualify for financial aid; and I’ve… Read more »

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 »

Netroots 2013: Amazing Conference; But Where Are All the Young People?

From June 20- 23, I had the amazing opportunity of attending the 8th annual Netroots Nation conference; one of the largest meetings of progressive minds in the country.  This year the conference took place in San Jose’s downtown region, and included organizations and unions from all over the country.  The conference also used the #nn13 hashtag and daily emails so those not present at the festivities could keep track of what was happening.  When I initially found out that I would be attending this conference I was excited, but truly had no expectations.  I was at Netroots Nation first-timer as my button proudly proclaimed.  From the time I entered the Convention Center, I felt like I was surrounded by the movers and the power players of Progressive organizations.  There was a good… Read more »

Responding to Teen Pregnancy: Stop the Shame

The current conversation around young mothers is not only stigmatizing, it’s also incredibly insensitive. Campaigns such as #NoTeenPreg, launched by the Candies Foundation, present young mothers as inherently problematic – to themselves,  their families, and their communities. The campaign proliferates messages like,  “You’re supposed to be changing the world, not changing diapers,”  as if teen moms are incapable of influencing positive change. The Candie’s Foundation isn’t the first organization to shame young parents and unfortunately it won’t be the last. As advocacy organizations, we often respond to campaigns like this by explaining that the “real problem” with teen pregnancy is the lack of resources and medically accurate information about sex and sexuality. While I agree that these are often the cause of unintended pregnancies –  80% of teen pregnancies are… Read more »

On Privacy and Reproductive Health: California’s Confidential Health Information Act

Elizabeth McElvein is a member of the Choice USA chapter at Scripps College The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health plans and insurers to offer coverage to dependent children up to age 26. While the expansion of health care coverage is a momentous step forward, the ACA leaves matters of patient privacy relatively ambiguous; consequently, it is up to state lawmakers to mediate the conflict between maintaining appropriate health plan and insurer communication and protecting patient confidentiality. This tension is of concrete significance to women and young people for whom patient confidentiality translates into freedom to pursue sexual and reproductive health care services. Imagine a high school senior sitting by herself in a doctor’s waiting room. She contemplates telling her doctor that she is sexually active and dreads the… Read more »

Sextravaganzas and Other Campus Sex Workshops

Last month, fellow Choice Correspondent Amanda and I attended Creating Change: The National Conference on LGBT Equality.  I may be biased, but Choice USA’s workshops really seemed to start some productive and practical conversations about how to help make our communities more sex positive.  One of Choice USA’s workshops, “Sex (Education) is a RIGHT!,”  facilitated by Sarah Audelo from Advocates for Youth, our own Mari Schimmer and myself, centered around young people’s right to sex and comprehensive and positive sex education, as well as student organizing.  The audience was asked to split up into groups and come up with a creative way to promote sex positivity in their hometowns. This yielded some really great ideas, but one in particular stuck with me.  An undergrad student from Indiana shared that his… Read more »

Sugar Babies: Victims or Opportunists?

My school, The University of Central Florida is known for its size –  58,000 currently enrolled. But it’s becoming notorious for something else recently…sugar babies. For those of you that don’t know what sugar babies are, no we’re not talking about those tasty caramel movie candies. These types of sugar babies are young people, mostly female, that get their expenses paid for by older individuals – their “sugar daddies.” Why I decided to write about this now? Easy, UCF recently became the 4th fastest growing “sugar baby” school according to sign ups on a site called Seeking Arrangement. I wanted to know just how this site markets them and went on the startup page to see why people are so interested. The site claims to be one of the best at offering… Read more »

It’s Raining Bibles but where are the Contraceptives?

Just recently in Orange County, Fla., the dear old county where I’ve resided since entering college, a group of individuals from World Changers of Florida was allowed the ability to “passively” provide bibles in schools. Passive distribution in this situation means that the World Changers cannot speak with students about them but have them available to anyone who asks. This struck a deep cord because providing the option to have Bibles in high schools is vital, but individuals in the upper echelons of the school system don’t find the importance or urgency in providing the same or similar access to contraceptives. Orange County is an abstinence-only until marriage county and receives Title V as well as Community Based Abstinence Education funding. This approach to sexual education leaves students to go on wild goose… Read more »