Let’s Talk About Sex Education: Planned Parenthood SHAREs

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.

Growing up, I was under the impression that sex was making out naked. I thought condoms were only used for protection against pregnancy. I did not understand that sex was meant for my pleasure. I thought I was a bad person for masturbating. All of these misconceptions, and more, would have been answered if I had comprehensive sex education. If only my school understood that access to sexuality information and services does not lead to increased sexual activity or riskier behaviors. On the contrary, if sex education were provided, I would have understood the reproductive, physical, and emotional components of sex. And rather than feeling confused and unsafe, I could have been empowered with the information I needed to make healthy choices about my own body.


Finding reliable sex education resources that specifically speak to your needs can be a daunting task.


In Arizona, sex education is optional, which leaves our local schools to determine what, if any, sex education is taught in their classrooms. Schools either completely opt out of sex education, or if they choose to provide it, have the option to teach abstinence-only or comprehensive curricula. Unfortunately, more often than not, schools in our state choose to opt out. (Here is an updated list of sex education by state provided by the Guttmacher Institute.)

The other common choice Arizona schools make is to implement an abstinence-only curriculum. Abstinence-only programs not only remain ineffective at their goal of promoting abstinence until marriage, they also withhold potentially lifesaving information; promote dangerous gender stereotypes; stigmatize sex, sexual health and sexuality; and perpetuate systems of inequity. These curricula ignore or deny the sexuality of young people, which has real consequences. They often ignore the range of values, desires, and questions that teens have regarding sexuality in lieu of promoting one value system and one set of behaviors and the messaging consistently targets those that identify with the dominant culture (e.g., heterosexual, cisgender, white, Christian, without disabilities, etc.). In addition, the curriculum uses fear-based information that focuses on the imminent threats of STDs and pregnancy, while ignoring the preventive and empowering components of birth control and safe sex practices, including consent and healthy relationship building. Continue reading

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

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

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

The People’s Agenda and the Next 100 Days

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

I love the smell of democracy in the morning!

Monday, January 13, was Opening Day of the 2020 Arizona Legislative Session, and it reeked of (small ‘d’) democratic hopes and dreams. But right out of the gate, before the session even started, Republicans filed bills that are set on limiting the rights of everyone from teachers to asylum seekers, cutting funding to public schools, and essentially outlawing inclusive sex education.

Planned Parenthood gathered with civic leaders, organizations, and progressives from around the state to remind legislators they are here to get the People’s work done and not be distracted by personal politics.

Our agenda — the People’s Agenda — reflects the needs of everyone in Arizona:

  • Education is vital to the future of our state and our children, and our partners at Arizona Education Association are advocating on behalf of teachers and educators for more equitable and progressive funding of public schools — including teacher and support staff pay, facilities maintenance, and school counselor and nurse allocations.
  • When it comes to Reproductive Rights & Justice, Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA) are gladiators for bodily autonomy. PPAA aims to repeal a 1906 law that Arizona has on the books that criminalizes abortion providers by imprisonment of up to five years.
  • In terms of Equality, we heard from our partners at the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Arizona, who reminded us that LGBTQ people are still treated differently in Arizona and our vigilance is needed to protect the rights of all. Already this session, lawmakers are rumored to have introduced bills (like these already introduced in other states) that interfere with the delivery of health care to transgender youth. And sex “education” bills have been introduced that do not allow students to learn about the spectrum of identities, and others mandate schools teach abstinence to homosexuality.
  • Our partners at Teamsters 104 spoke on the need and the power of labor unions, highlighting the struggle of Tucson’s steelworkers, who have been on strike since October. Arizona needs an economy that is fair and works for all of us, and our partners at LUCHA are working to ensure the voter-passed minimum wage increases remain unhindered by the Legislature, while ensuring predatory loan companies are not a threat to Arizona families.
  • On the Environment; our friends at Chispa and the Sierra Club once again spoke truth to power, even if that power denies that truth. Climate change and the risk to communities’ air and water are real and happening now, and Chispa has been fighting the money and influence of Arizona Public Service Co. in the past few cycles.

The next 100 days are expected to be a roller coaster of emotions and parliamentary procedure. We’ll need your voice, your action, and, ultimately, your commitment to get us through 2020!

Please ensure you and everyone you care about is registered to vote, knows about the upcoming elections, and gets out the vote!

Standing with the Missing: Tucson Hosts the REDress Project

Tree at the Piikani Nation, Alberta, Canada. Photo: voyagevixen2

Last year, on March 11, red shirts and dresses filled the Arizona House of Representatives. Activists wore the color in support of HB 2570, a bill introduced by Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler, to address an ongoing crisis in Arizona’s Native American communities.

That crisis, and that visual statement in response to it, is also the theme of the REDress Project, a traveling exhibition by Métis artist Jaime Black, whose work opens at the Tucson Desert Art Museum on January 10. Black, who is based in Winnipeg, Canada, began the project in 2009, collecting and displaying dresses to “call in the energy of the women who are lost.”


Honoring the many lost throughout North America, the REDress Project will be on exhibit at the Tucson Desert Art Museum.


The red of those dresses has become a symbol — and the letters MMIW the shorthand — for missing and murdered indigenous women. In Native American communities, domestic abuse, kidnapping, and other forms of violence have put many victims on difficult paths to justice, often leading nowhere.

Gaps in jurisdiction, especially when the offender isn’t a tribal member, have been one barrierNon-tribal suspects fall under federal jurisdiction, but a shortage of federal marshals has often meant that they can continue offending with impunity. In a report published last year, the Urban Indian Health Institute found that roughly half of perpetrators in MMIW cases were non-Native. Continue reading

STD Awareness: Fighting STDs with Education

Here in Arizona, Tucson Unified School District has been taking steps toward adopting a comprehensive, inclusive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate sex education program, but it’s been repeatedly delayed by a vocal minority. In September, a vote was put on hold after the superintendent recommended changing the proposed curriculum to focus on abstinence as the preferred method for avoiding STDs and unintended pregnancies.


You can make your voice heard. Learn how!


Additionally, many opponents of TUSD’s proposed curriculum believe its inclusiveness of LGBTQ kids is tantamount to “indoctrination,” that this type of education “sexualizes” children, and that discussions of gender identity will confuse students. LGBTQ kids have traditionally been ignored or demeaned in sex education programs, and their health matters too. Presenting medically accurate and age-appropriate information does not indoctrinate or sexualize children — it simply helps them make healthy decisions, no matter who they are. And these days, students need to be empowered with as much knowledge as possible to make decisions that protect their health.

Confronting the STD Epidemic

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual report on sexually transmitted diseases. It did not contain good news. For the fifth straight year, STD rates are climbing.

Continue reading