Know Your Rights: Advocating for Your Sexual and Reproductive Health

This guest post comes from the Planned Parenthood Arizona Education Team’s Casey Scott-Mitchell, who serves as the community education & training coordinator at Planned Parenthood Arizona.

It’s important that all young people have the information and resources they need to take care of their sexual and reproductive health. However, depending on the state you live in, you might encounter barriers in the form of laws and policies that affect your ability as a young person to access your sexual and reproductive rights. Through our work of providing sex education in various Arizona communities, we know many people aren’t fully clear on what their rights are when it comes to sexual and reproductive health — so consider this a quick crash course!


A critical step in protecting your sexual health is to understand your rights.


In terms of information about sexuality, there is no state law requiring sex education in schools. It is up to each school district to decide whether they provide sex education, and what type of curriculum they want to use if they do provide it. We know there are many districts across Arizona that have chosen not to offer sex education to their students or to provide limited information about sexuality (e.g., abstinence-only sex ed).

The lack of consistency around sex education is problematic because research shows that most youth and their families want their schools to offer comprehensive sex ed  — a holistic curriculum that covers topics like consent, healthy relationships, STDs, birth control, abstinence, etc. Furthermore, when youth receive comprehensive sex ed, they are more likely to have healthy relationships and make choices that will reduce their likelihood of unintended pregnancies and STDs.

When it comes to accessing resources and services that help young people protect their health, there are a few laws in Arizona that are important to know about: Continue reading

The Fight for Equality and Inclusion in Sports Continues in Arizona

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, strategic relations officer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Sports can often teach character traits outside the classroom: good sportsmanship, being a gracious loser and a humble winner, and the importance of fairness and contributing to a team. Participating in sports can be a powerful way to hone physical agility, mental resiliency, and personal identity. For kids, it’s a way to learn teamwork, sportsmanship, and the endless potential that can be unearthed when goal-focused individuals come together and execute a winning plan.


There is no ‘I’ in Team, but there is a ‘T’!


Let’s acknowledge, too, that sports have often been divisive and disheartening. Black athletes across the board have generally had to break some form of “color barrier” in their respective sport. Women, too, have often been left on the sidelines. As athletes of color and women continue to navigate the racist and sexist systems in place, they slowly make progress toward equality.

The fight for equality often leaves the field for legal proceedings and public opinion. The clearest example of an actual struggle for progress in women’s sports is the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team’s legal fight to obtain equal pay and better working conditions. As our World Cup champions fight for fair compensation, a different inclusion barrier is being beaten down by another cadre of athletes: transgender athletes.

The unifying power of sport is lost on some, and now career politicians in Arizona are targeting children for political gain. Some would have you believe that women’s sports are vulnerable and need “saving” — not from inequity in pay or sexist stereotypes, but from transgender girls and women. Luckily for women’s sports, the savior they didn’t need or ask for, Rep. Nancy Barto, has come to the rescue with HB 2706, which only allows “biological girls” to participate on girls’ teams in interscholastic sports. Continue reading

You Are More Than Your Body: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The following post comes to us via Tracey Sands, a graduate student at Arizona State University’s West Campus studying communication as it relates to advocacy. Tracey believes dialogue is an act of love and strives to empower others to find and use their voice. She is an education outreach intern at Planned Parenthood Arizona.

The scale. The dinner plate. The mirror. The photos. All of these silent, inanimate objects are anything but silent when you have anorexia. The scale yells back saying, “You weigh too much.” The dinner plate taunts you, “I know you’re hungry, but you won’t eat me.” The mirror scoffs at the way you look, and the photos clap in support of the mirror’s disapproval. No matter what silent, inanimate objects are a signifier of an eating disorder, the eating disorder itself is constant and deafening. How do I know? Because what I described above happened to me.

My Story

Growing up I was a sassy and confident leader, both in school and sports; the first to raise my hand or reach out to a classmate, and the go-to person for team morale and strategic plays on the basketball court. Although this did not completely drift away, it was dulled at the beginning of 7th grade as I started to hate my body.


You are more than your eating disorder, you are more than your body.


Why did I hate my body? I honestly don’t know. I just did.

While no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that they are influenced by a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.

I developed an all-consuming anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder in which you restrict the amount of calories you consume and limit the types of food you eat, which led to detrimental weight loss. By completely restricting my diet and pushing my body and mind to their literal limits, I went from 125 pounds to 98 pounds in one year. As I lost weight, I lost my confidence, my strength, and my period, all occurring during the most pivotal time of growth, puberty. The physiological and emotional impediments put me in a dark, unhealthy place. Continue reading

ERA: A Personal Look Back

On a summer Saturday in 1978, it had been more than six years since the Equal Rights Amendment passed Congress. Ratification by two-thirds of the states was stalled, three short of the 38-state goal. We needed to do something.

That night, I left my home in Cleveland, Ohio, aboard a red-eye bus for Washington, D.C. Sunday morning, the Capitol dawn broke into a bright, warm day. Pumped, together with my fellow career-woman friend — who certainly had a name, but, hey, it’s been more than 40 years and memory fails me — we tumbled off the bus to join the hordes of determined feminists, clad in white and converging on the Capitol to demand that three more states get off the dime and ratify the ERA. Here’s my dear, nameless friend, full of piss and vinegar.

National ERA March, July 9, 1978, Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anne Hopkins)

Our collective ask of the states was simple — add these words to our Constitution:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Continue reading

What’s the 411 on 2-1-1 Bills?

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, strategic relations officer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Hello, 911? I’d like to report a dumpster fire.

Anti-abortion politicians are at it again — this time targeting the 2-1-1 referral system as a pretext for charging the taxpayers $3 million to fund a pilot program to promote childbirth instead of abortion. The 2-1-1 system is a statewide information and referral network that has been in service since 1964, with more than 80% of calls regarding public utility inquiries.


A new funding bill for the 2-1-1 system is bloated with unnecessary abortion restrictions and charges taxpayers $3 million to promote childbirth.


2-1-1 Arizona is a private, nonprofit organization run by Crisis Response Network, Inc. Through their website, mobile app, and automated phone system, Arizonans can learn about important community services — resources that include assistance with housing, food, and bills; domestic violence; health, dental, and mental health care; services for disabled people and veterans; employment services; and more. Planned Parenthood is one of hundreds of resources listed under Health & Dental, and their inclusion in 2-1-1 Arizona’s listing helps connect patients to vital family planning, STD testing, and cancer screening services. A Google search shows there is no mention of the word abortion anywhere on 2-1-1 Arizona’s website. Continue reading

STD Awareness: How Do I Tell Someone I Have Herpes? Or HPV? Or HIV?

Image provided by Katie to Vice

Of all the novel ways to jump-start a difficult conversation, presenting someone with a hand-drawn comic about herpes is among the most creative. A couple of weeks ago, Vice shared the story of Katie, a millennial with genital herpes who struggled to find the optimal way to disclose her status to potential partners. In a fit of inspiration, she wrote and illustrated a pamphlet that not only shared her history and status — it also included important stats and other facts about genital herpes, a highly stigmatized and widely misunderstood condition. Her pamphlet has been received well by potential partners, dispelling myths while also lightening the mood during what can be a highly fraught conversation.


Begin your relationship with transparency and respect.


Katie’s struggle is shared by a lot of people with treatable — but incurable — STDs, such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV. (Herpes and HIV stay in the body for life, but 9 out of 10 times HPV will be defeated by the immune system. But sometimes, HPV lingers for years or even life.) Most of us don’t want to disclose too early, when we haven’t yet established trust, but we also might be wary of waiting too long, lest we be accused of dishonesty. And disclosing before it seems like sex is in the cards might seem presumptuous. It can be a fine line to walk.

Whether you design your own comic like Katie did, or try another route, the ability to disclose your STD status to a potential partner is an important communication skill to develop. Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of honesty and respect, and your potential partners need to make their own decisions when it comes to their comfort with possible exposure. To make an informed decision, they must be armed with all the facts — and you can help them! Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, Local Elections Do Matter

This post is from Planned Parenthood Arizona Strategic Relations Officer Kelley Dupps, who traveled to Virginia in late 2019 to work on state campaigns and help turn Virginia blue. After the news broke of Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Kelley shared some thoughts from last fall and reflected on where we’re heading into 2020.

Supporters and opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982

Virginia is a political beast of a state. Once the capital of the Confederacy and current home to the National Rifle Association, Virginia sports 13 lucky electoral votes (only two more than Arizona), and has served as a training ground for many organizers learning how to make a red state blue. When activists take a tobacco-growing, gun-toting Southern capital and organize it to recognize the humanity and equality of their citizens, they provide inspiration — and a proof of principle — to other organizers nationwide that the seemingly impossible is quite possible.

Effecting Change in Virginia


Virginia showed us what’s possible, and in 2020 Arizonans must remember that elections can be won or lost by just a few votes.


Last year around this time, in January 2019, the Virginia Senate refused to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Wielded by men and women who believe in patriarchy and voted to ensure that women were not seen or treated as equals under the law, that veto triggered a lot of grassroots passion, and the election season of 2019 in Virginia was lit! Voters wanting more visibility and representation in their democracy sent more women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates to the state Capitol than ever before, turning a once beet-red state into big ‘D’ Democratic blue.

And elections have consequences.

A year later, on January 15, 2020, Virginia legislators voted to ratify the ERA, solidifying that women are to be treated as equal under the law! Continue reading