VOX: Raising Our Voices for Comprehensive Sex Education

VOX represents the University of Arizona

VOX represents the University of Arizona

The University of Arizona is home to a passionate chapter of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, where the new generation of reproductive justice activists gains hands-on experience empowering community members with the knowledge they need to make healthy choices. Their current mission is to expand access to comprehensive sexuality education in Arizona, a state with a high teenage pregnancy rate thanks to abstinence-only policies.

Many VOX members are alumni of Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), and these college students have returned to their old stomping grounds to demand a better education for Tucson’s youth. We asked some of them to share their memories of piecing together the mysteries of human sexuality in an environment in which the topic was shrouded in secrecy.

Anna Keene says:

I went to TUSD schools for middle and high school, both with somewhat present sex ed, but not very comprehensive. I remember being separated by boys and girls, talking about weird smells and periods and not too much else. One of the few lectures we received is vividly fresh in my memory: my friend’s mom (who was also our school counselor) explaining to us that there were “different” kinds of sex, and anal sex was something dangerous, and stressing that “once you kiss someone, they are no longer just your friend,” and that condoms are like gloves you put on your privates to keep them clean. Continue reading

University of Arizona VOX: Summer Travelogue

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University of Arizona VOX students represent Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this summer, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona sent four University of Arizona students to the annual Youth Organizing and Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The conference brings together hundreds of young people from around the country who support the mission of Planned Parenthood and seek to bring awareness around sexual health and reproductive rights to their college campuses. The forum provides an opportunity for young people to learn from each other, share experiences and ideas, and become familiar with the top issues impacting sexual and reproductive health across the country.

Apart from the obvious benefit — getting out of the 100-plus-degree weather here in Arizona — this conference is also a perfect venue to inspire and remind young people about the important role they play in the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement.

We wanted to take a moment to share some of highlights — from our VOX students — about the conference so you, too, can be inspired as we kick off the fall semester.

From Nancy …

Although I have been a youth volunteer with Planned Parenthood for five years now, this was the first time I was able to attend one of these wonderful conferences. The 2013 Youth Organizing and Policy Conference brought together like-minded people and encouraged us to speak out about reproductive justice, equal pay, and health care. Not only was it powerful to listen to advocates from around the country share their stories, but it helped me to understand how just a few voices can change the outlook of elections and large policy decisions.

My favorite part about the conference was being able to walk through the Capitol and speaking with our Congressmen and women about issues we found important. I also thought it was mind-blowing how many young people there were behind the scenes running our governmental offices! It’s encouraging to know that when we reach out to our representatives, we are also reaching out to people of our age who help them in office. Overall I had a great experience in Washington, D.C. I walked away with many new ideas for outreach and also a renewed sense of optimism about our continued fight for our civil liberties.

From Zoe …

My experience at YOPC was truly inspirational. We were able to see and meet so many amazing people. My favorite part of the conference was lobby day, when we were able to meet with five Arizona congressmen and women to discuss issues important to young people and Planned Parenthood. Those who were involved in planning the conference did an incredible job, and I hope that I can attend another conference like this in the future!

From Georgia …

Attending the Youth Organizing and Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., was such an eye-opening and inspiring experience. We were so lucky to be able to meet with five supportive Congressional representatives from Arizona, which really gave me insight into what the lobbying process is like in Congress. While we were pretty exhausted after running around on Capitol Hill all day, the experience itself was extremely energizing and it felt awesome to be able to actively participate in the political process.

The rest of the conference was just as awesome, and incredibly encouraging. In a time when it seems like there is a new anti-choice or anti-woman bill passed every day, it was amazing to see all the great work that is being done to push back across the country. I found it especially heartening to hear from students from states like Texas, North Carolina, and Florida, who are putting up an amazing fight against the choice-limiting legislation that is coming out of their states.

Overall, I came back from the conference motivated and ready to implement what I learned with our VOX chapter next semester.

We all wish the UofA VOX crew best of luck on campus this year and look forward to seeing what they do! To find out about a VOX chapter near you, check out Planned Parenthood’s website.

Women for Goddard Say Goddard Is For Women

Editor’s note: For an in-depth interview with Terry Goddard, 2014 candidate for secretary of state, please click here.

Did you know that women are the majority of voters in the United States? In fact, there were 10 million more women voters than men in the 2008 election. Why is it, then, that women only make up 17 percent of Congress? And why is it that issues such as women’s health continue to be relegated to the back burner?

Arizona is an interesting state, because we actually have a long history of women serving in political office here, in particular in the governor’s seat. Who can forget Rose Mofford and her sassy beehives? The irony, however, is that having a woman in office does not always mean that women are being fairly represented. Jan Brewer is the perfect example. During her time in office, Jan Brewer has systematically set back women’s rights, especially when it comes to women’s access to reproductive health care services.

A group of community organizers called Women for Goddard is hoping to change the political climate. They are mobilizing 5,000 female voters in support of Terry Goddard’s bid for governor, and they are reaching out to voters who are registered, but who haven’t voted in recent elections. Women for Goddard recently held a phone bank in which 500 volunteers each committed to call 10 women. Each of those volunteers will remain in contact with their voters until the election to make sure that the women get to the polls. The goal is to tip the balance of the scales in favor of Terry Goddard. And they are doing it one phone call at a time. Continue reading