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

PPAA Volunteers Visit Washington

PPAA volunteer with Rep. Raul Grijalva

PPAA volunteer with Rep. Raul Grijalva

This summer I had the awesome opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., with Emily Herrell, PPAZ advocacy coordinator, and three other students for the annual Planned Parenthood Youth Conference. We spent three days in the city going to workshops, meeting other activists and listening to speakers like Cecile Richards and Jon Lewis.

The experience was especially valuable to me as the newly elected University of Arizona VOX chapter president. In one workshop I got to meet other VOX leaders and we bounced event ideas and strategies to increase membership off of each other. While there are some pro-choice groups on my campus, it’s rare for us as activists to be able to connect with other than Planned Parenthood student volunteers. I was relieved to find that most VOX leaders struggled with the same problems (i.e. membership) that we do at the UA. Continue reading

Despite Being a Red State, Arizonans Support Choice

Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard's rally at the UofA

Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard’s rally at the UofA

I started volunteering for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona when I moved to Tucson for my sophomore year of college. I was drawn to Planned Parenthood because I saw in the organization a combination of two things I wanted to be a part of: pro-choice feminism and political activism. My first event was a crowd canvass at a local street fair. I was not the sort of person who regularly spoke to strangers, let alone asked them for their signatures on pro-choice petitions. But I quickly got over the awkwardness and discovered I loved it. People were overwhelmingly supportive and grateful for our presence. There were those who ignored us and moved on, but they were few and far between. I remember the men and women who smiled, not the ones who rolled their eyes.

The next few events I attended were much of the same. People were friendly and supportive. I kept volunteering for the rest of the year and began attending VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) meetings as well.

This past summer I returned home to Illinois to spend the school break with my family. Bored and unemployed, I applied for an internship with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and a few months later got the job. Continue reading

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