Let’s Talk About … Being the Parent of an LGBTQ Child

The following guest post comes to us from Planned Parenthood Arizona’s education staff. Contact them at education@ppaz.org.

father-and-son-thumbnailOctober is Let’s Talk month, when Planned Parenthood advocates for better parent-child communication around sexuality. Last year we wrote about why it’s so important for any parent to talk to their child about sexuality — early and often. Parents are the primary sexuality educators of their children, and children who can talk to their parents about sexuality wait longer to have sex, and are more likely to use protection.

Planned Parenthood has great resources to help parents talk to their kids. Advocates for Youth also has a comprehensive guide to help parents through difficult conversations. Planned Parenthood also has resources for parents of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) youth. You might also ask your friendly local librarian about one of these books recommended by PFLAG, a national organization for families, friends, and allies of LGBTQ people.


Demand LGBTQ inclusivity and comprehensive sex education in your school district.


On November 2, Planned Parenthood will host an interactive workshop in Phoenix for parents of LGBTQ youth, where they can practice being an “askable” parent. Parents of LGBTQ kids may find it a little more difficult to be an “askable” adult. But it’s even more important because your children are at particular risk. LGBTQ youth face significant obstacles in their schools, in the world, and, sometimes, unfortunately, in their own homes. LGBTQ youth experience high rates of homelessness, depression/anxiety, and astronomically high rates of suicides — 3 times higher than straight youth. Study after study has shown that, in schools, LGBTQ youth face much higher levels of bullying, harassment, intimidation, threats, and physical assault than their peers. Stopbullying.gov reports that bullied LGBTQ youth (or youth perceived as LGBTQ) are more likely to skip school, smoke, use alcohol and drugs, and to engage in other risky behaviors.

If your child is transgender, their risks are exponentially higher. Almost all transgender students report being harassed at school about their sexual orientation and/or gender. More than half of transgender students report being physically harassed (pushed, shoved) in school. And about a third report being physically assaulted (punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon). For more information on transgender discrimination in schools, please see Harsh Realities: The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools, available online here. Continue reading

Lost in Translation: What the Doublespeak of Reproductive Rights Opponents Really Means

NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona's Kat Sabine in front of the Capitol in 2012.

NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona’s Kat Sabine in front of the Capitol in 2012.

A “dedication and commitment to protect the health of women” sounds like something from the mission statement of a praiseworthy organization — one that might even get you to grab your wallet for a donation or your running shoes for a marathon. Those nine words, though, came from Gov. Jan Brewer, in a proclamation against Roe v. Wade that she signed for the Center for Arizona Policy.

The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) is an influential, far-right Christian organization behind more than 100 of Arizona’s state laws. Since its founding in 1995, CAP has taken positions that are antagonistic to the health of Arizonans — adults and children alike. As Rachel Port has written previously for this blog, CAP has opposed anti-bullying measures, comprehensive sexuality education, and the Affordable Care Act.


Abortion opponents may claim to safeguard women’s health, but their policies put women in danger.


People who oppose access to abortion have made rhetoric about the health of women and children a common theme in their messaging, implying that the termination of a pregnancy is a dangerous procedure that threatens patients’ health. It’s been part of their toolbox even though abortion is one of the safest medical procedures a patient can undergo — safer, in fact, than childbirth. It’s been in use in spite of other contradictions as well, like those CAP exhibits in its disregard or adversarial stance toward policies that would promote the health of women and children. Continue reading

Center for Arizona Policy: A Witches’ Brew of Spine-Tingling Politics and Legislation

Photo: Ryan Godfrey

For nearly 20 years, CAP has been injecting their extreme interpretations of Christian doctrine into Arizona law. Photo: Ryan Godfrey

The Center for Arizona Policy is a far-right Christian organization that was founded in 1995. According to its mission statement:

Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty.

Its political purpose is stated in the next sentence:

The fact is, what happens at the state Capitol impacts real lives. CAP works with state legislators and other elected officials at all levels of government to ensure that public policy promotes foundational principles.

Its founding president, and its second and current president Cathi Herrod, are both lawyers, and Herrod was a lawyer on staff before becoming president. Therefore it is no surprise that CAP is more than a lobbying group — they actually write legislation, including the vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ customers under the guise of religious freedom.

They are proud of the legislation they have written or supported over the years. A Huffington Post report from February 2014 says:

Since the group’s 1995 establishment, 123 CAP-supported measures have been signed into law, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod. Twenty-nine bills backed by CAP have been vetoed by various Arizona governors after being passed by the state legislature.

Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was just overturned in federal court. Cathi Herrod responded to the the decision with a post on CAP’s Foundations blog.

Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its moral foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on God and His principles.

But we do not despair. We do not throw in the towel. We do not give up.

She goes on to cite the religious right activism spawned by Roe v. Wade, and predicts a similar movement building up against same-sex marriage.

A rather terrifying thought, given the terrorism and deaths the anti-abortion movement has generated. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Allison Ewers for Kyrene School Board

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

A._Ewers_headshotKyrene School District encompasses Ahwatukee as well as parts of Chandler, Guadalupe, Tempe, and the Gila River Indian Reservation. It is home to approximately 18,000 students in 19 elementary schools and six middle schools.

In a state that doesn’t mandate sex education of any kind for its students, abstinence-only education — or the complete absence of any sexuality education programs whatsoever — is the norm in Arizona. Kyrene School District currently uses abstinence-only-until marriage curricula, but supplements the information with outside sources, for instance by inviting representatives from the health department to talk to students about sexually transmitted diseases and condom use. While this kind of supplemental information is good, the school district has the opportunity to deliver much better sexuality education to its students.

Allison Ewers is uniquely positioned to bring her background in sensitive and inclusive educational curricula to help Kyrene improve its sex education programs to be truly comprehensive. On October 19, she shared with us her vision for public education in Kyrene, and how her unique background will inform her participation on the school board.


“Education is power, and … our children can use that power to keep themselves safe.”


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a proud resident of the Kyrene School District and graduate of the public school and university system in Arizona. I will work hard to ensure that our children have the same opportunities for success that I have had.

I am currently a producer for HP2, Inc., a local Arizona small business. My involvement in the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair, the Arizona Science Fair, Arizona Local First, One Community, and the Arizona Small Business Association has allowed me to see firsthand the crippling effect that discrimination has had on our state. This makes it much more difficult to attract high-wage, technically advanced business to the Valley.

When I travel worldwide, I am often asked, “What is wrong with Arizona? There seems to be so much hate.” I am working to change this reputation. It is time for strong leaders in our schools and our state Legislature. I can no longer stand by and watch this happen to the reputation of a state that I am so proud of, so I have chosen to step up. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Brian Davidson for Osborn School Board

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

10498597_1459086937673271_6501604788517873548_o (1)Among elected officials, school board members are in a unique position to directly affect the lives of students under their governance. When a school board understands that accurate, comprehensive, and inclusive sex education is part of a well-rounded education for all students, it can help empower students to make informed, healthy relationship choices and to respect the humanity and diversity of the individuals they’ll encounter in their lives.

Brian Davidson has lived in the Central Phoenix Osborn School District for 10 years, where he’s been an active community volunteer in that time. Currently, Mr. Davidson seeks to serve his community by running for Osborn School Board, where he plans to advocate for smaller class sizes, continued arts and music education — areas that have been cut in many districts throughout the state — and more classroom resources for teachers.


“Children need to be empowered with information about their bodies and prepared to make responsible decisions by the time they are in middle school and high school.”


Brian Davidson was kind enough to take the time for an interview on October 16, 2014.

Tell us a little about yourself.

A third generation Phoenician, I grew up on the west side of Phoenix. After attending Phoenix College, I graduated from Northern Arizona University. I worked for nonprofits focused on education and career development. From 2003 through 2011, I worked in environmental policy for the State of Arizona and the Environmental Protection Agency. A resident of Central Phoenix since 2002, I served on the Encanto Village Planning Committee and the Woodlea Melrose neighborhood board. I live with my wife Michelle and two children.

Why is it important to you to be involved with education in your community?

As the parent of two school-age children, the quality of our public education system is of fundamental concern to our family. I want to ensure every child in our community has access to a world-class education. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Amy Schwabenlender for State Representative, LD 20

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Amy for AZAmy Schwabenlender is running to represent the 20th legislative district in the Arizona House of Representatives. LD 20 encompasses much of Northwest Phoenix, and includes parts of Glendale and Moon Valley. Ms. Schwabenlender stands strong for reproductive health, justice, and, as a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, the work we do to stand up for women’s rights.

LD 20 is currently represented in the state House by Paul Boyer, who identifies as “strongly pro-life.” Paul Boyer recently voted for SB 1062, the infamous discrimination bill that received national attention last spring. Anthony Kern, a Republican, is vying for the second seat. Kern has indicated on his Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire that he is opposed to comprehensive sex education and in favor of retaining Arizona’s constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Because so much is at stake for this House seat, and because Amy Schwabenlender is such a passionate advocate for reproductive rights, we are proud to endorse her campaign. Ms. Schwabenlender was kind enough to talk to Morganne Rosenhaus on September 14, 2014.


“Government and legislators should not be involved in personal health care decisions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, went to college in San Antonio, and have lived in Arizona for 19 years. I worked in sales and marketing for 10 years, and then transitioned to the nonprofit sector, which is where I have been for the past nine years. I currently work at United Way as vice president of community impact, where my job is to end homelessness and hunger in Maricopa County.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law? In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?

These kinds of bills are insulting to women and their families. It feels like women are being picked on just for being women. The rights that women have when they receive their health care shouldn’t be different from men. No one should have their privacy threatened. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Garcia for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

dg4az-0315In his campaign for the statewide office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. David Garcia has declared that he will work for innovation in Arizona’s public schools. Backed by appropriate resources — including positive leadership and responsible funding — this would provide better future opportunities to all Arizonans. Included is his commitment to ensure that students are getting the comprehensive, relevant information they need to best make decisions about all aspects of their lives.

As a public high school teacher, I know that my students’ sexual and reproductive health care education is an integral part of their overall education and empowerment. For instance:

  • If I never have another student ask me, “Miss, do you need to be a certain age to buy condoms?” or, “Where can I buy a pregnancy test?” — it will be too soon.
  • In my decade of teaching, I have seen more and more students being comfortable openly identifying as gay — and that’s awesome. But certain portions of our health curriculum, by law, do not allow health teachers to say that being gay is OK — or to give these students the complete and accurate information that is necessary to ensure their sexual health and safety.
  • I have had too many students who were abused as younger children and simply never had the correct words — in terms of consent, in terms of bodily autonomy — to name the wrong for what it was. Consequently, the abuse was long-lasting and the healing slow in coming.

When we empower our children to feel secure in their bodies and their identities, we empower them to pursue their educations, goals, and ambitions. In that light, I am pleased that PPAA has endorsed a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction — because who we have in that office matters — and even more pleased that they endorsed David Garcia.

Dr. Garcia was kind enough to take the time for this interview on July 25, 2014. Please also check out our followup interview with Dr. Garcia, in which he spoke to us in more detail about his opponent in the general election, Diane Douglas.


“Planned Parenthood Advocates has taken a bold stance on changing state level leadership. I greatly admire and respect an organization that has the courage to call out policymakers not working for the greater good of Arizonans.”


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve devoted my career to improving public schools because I believe public education is the great equalizer in society and the reason I obtained the American Dream.

My dad was a commercial painter and my mom a factory worker. I grew up in Mesa, in a neighborhood where my parents still live. I wasn’t a great student, and it took enlisting in the Army for me to turn my life around and get serious about school. After the Army, I attended Arizona State University, becoming the first in my family to graduate from college. I went on to earn a doctorate in education policy studies from the University of Chicago. Continue reading