2018: A Quick Look at What’s Ahead

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

We made it! We’ve survived a year under a regime keen on dismantling democracy, marginalizing many of our most vulnerable neighbors, and draining the swamp. Apparently, the swamp has been drained to release some of its inhabitants to serve as cabinet secretaries, presidential advisors, and political appointees. Despite the abuses to our civil liberties we endured on a weekly — even daily — basis, we have one good thing to say: This administration’s ability to galvanize the grassroots of the Resistance is impressive, and 2018 is poised to be another cage match of democratic ideals against despotic rhetoric.

The Trump Administration’s first year has been a whirlwind in which we found ourselves focused on survival, protecting our most vulnerable, and fighting back; and a quick assessment would show success on each front. From the millions of calls and emails generated to protect the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare); to Jane Doe’s legal victory to obtain an abortion while in ICE custody; to the millions who marched for women, science, truth, and the environment. So 2018 is all set for some intense campaigning as we head into midterm elections and weather attacks from a misinformed opposition, but look forward to some much-needed victories in November!

Tucson protesters rally for the Affordable Care Act, August 2017

Education is a common agenda item at the Arizona state Capitol. Whether it’s funding public education or increasing teacher pay, recent history has revealed Arizona as a state reluctant to back sufficient funding for education. Recently, a grassroots effort has emerged to Save Our Schools (SOS). Proponents have one goal: to get a question on the ballot to stop school vouchers from siphoning more public money away from public schools and into charter and private schools. SOS is hosting a rally on Saturday, January 6, 2018, at the state Capitol. We’re looking forward to a big crowd rallying to make education funding a top priority in Arizona!

Funding for education is important, but what we teach children is just as crucial. Evidence shows that students who are taught inclusive, age-appropriate, nondiscriminatory, comprehensive health education are more likely to graduate, more likely to delay sexual activity, and more likely to stand up for someone they see being bullied or showing signs of being in an abusive relationship.

  • How else do we teach our youngest students about Good Touch and Bad Touch and how to find a Trusted Adult? These are not easy conversations to have, let alone try to get your 5-year-old to understand. Kids are just like voters – they need to hear the message 10+ times from other messengers in order for it to soak in. Reinforcing it in the classroom is an essential part of raising a generation of healthy children.
  • How else do we battle bullying and foster friendships? In these days of text messaging and Internet message boards, so many of our interactions are behind a screen and interacting with people face to face can be challenging. Learning to share and how to be a good friend are lessons that will be helpful throughout life.
  • How else do we prepare our older students to enter the “real” world after graduation? Navigating the world on your own is fraught with peril and can be daunting at times. Students need to be confident in the knowledge and skills they procured in class to be successful at whatever they do.

These questions and scenarios are part of what inclusive, age-appropriate, nondiscriminatory, comprehensive health education seeks to address: the reality of human interaction. Teaching healthy relationships helps everyone, but plays a special role in protecting our most vulnerable children, especially those in foster care. Ensuring all students have access to inclusive, age-appropriate, nondiscriminatory, comprehensive health education is vital to the health and safety of Arizona’s youth. That’s why PPAA supports fully funded public education, along with higher teacher pay and increased support for in-classroom materials.

While many campaigns for 2018 have already started, the legislative session is 100 days long and kicks off on January 8, 2018! Opening Day Rally is at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix with events starting around 8:30 a.m. We need our legislators to fight for education, health care, infrastructure, and civil rights, and Arizonans must be there to hold them accountable. Show your support by rallying with us on Opening Day – January 8!

In 2018, look for PPAA to support:

  • Inclusive, age-appropriate, nondiscriminatory, comprehensive health education
  • Repealing discriminatory and derogatory HIV education law
  • Increasing teacher pay, education funding, etc.
  • Voting rights and citizen access to the ballot

We will continue to monitor and fight legislation aimed at targeting or shaming our patients, and we’ll need your help! Please make sure you’re in The Loop! for all the up-to-date information to answer your questions and make you a more effective advocate!

Keep up with PPAA for the 2018 action!