This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Fall Achievement Benefit for the LGBT Center of Central PA on behalf of Planned Parenthood. Wearing my “Planning is Power” pin and having placed our organization’s standard information cards on several tables, Planned Parenthood’s presence was known. What surprised me though was how often I was asked questions like, “Why are you here?” and “What does Planned Parenthood have to do with the LGBT community?” My initial reaction as a gay man was to respond with what I use Planned Parenthood for: STD and HIV testing. Thinking about the question over and over again later on I realized how ignorant and closed minded that response was. So, with our new slogan, “Care. No Matter What.” echoing in my head, here is a list of circumstances that a judgment free and open minded place like Planned Parenthood can be a useful and necessary option for the LGBT community:
First and foremost, STD/STI and HIV testing is a fundamental duty for every sexually active person on this planet.
Condoms. Condoms. Condoms.
Contraception. Everyone needs access, no matter what. Orientation is a spectrum, so access for everyone is absolutely important. Whether its birth control pills, IUDs, condoms, etc. we have it. Accidents happen… Condoms break, antibiotics interfere with birth control pills, you name it, Planned Parenthood offers Plan B.
Birth control to help regulate and minimize periods for women. Sexuality has no factor in this.
Abortion. Probably the number one reason people asked me why Planned Parenthood was at an LGBT event. Well, without making an exhaustive list, there are still plenty of reasons that a woman in the LGBT community may find herself pregnant. And the point is that decisions regarding pregnancy are difficult and every woman has the right to access medically accurate information, healthcare, and ultimately to make decisions about her own body.
Transgender care. Even at the clinics that don’t offer transitional services, all clinics offer a team who is understanding, well-trained and offer the best healthcare possible.
Breast and cervical cancer screenings! Every single woman needs access to this! Again, sexuality has no factor in this.
Planned Parenthood offers nondiscriminatory services to people from all walks of life and that’s important.
CARE. NO MATTER WHAT.
So, to answer the question of “why?” as bluntly as possible: “WHY NOT?!?!”
Although Let’s Talk Month is over, let’s not forget to keep the conversation going with your teens regarding sex. With a topic that could be very awkward when discussed, it is very important to make teens aware of the consequences of being sexually active.
A lot of teens are having sex, even as young as 14. It is best to start talking with them in early childhood. Also, by making the conversation more frequent, it may eventually make it more comfortable for both the parent and the teen. In fact, they may even come to you more often with questions. Help them make smart decisions and maybe even give scenarios to help them understand the consequences and what could really happen. Regardless of what it takes, just keep talking.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot more topics to be discussed rather than just “sex.” “Sexuality includes a wide range of topics including male and female bodies and how they work, human development, reproduction, types of relationships, what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy, sexual behavior, and how to prevent pregnancy and STDs.”
I know there are a lot of teens who may be too embarrassed to even ask questions. But, keeping up with the conversation will make it easier and will encourage them to think before they act.
So, not only do we recommend starting the conversation about sex, but try to keep it going as well. It is very important that teens understand the consequences.
I STRONGLY believe that informative and comprehensive education is ALWAYS the right choice for our youth.
When I was 8, my dad taught me proper gun safety. Before I fired my first gun, I was taught that with proper knowledge, safety, and respect for the weapon, gun ownership is every American’s inalienable right. I was taught to never point a gun at another human, make sure the safety is on when it’s not in use, and always know where and what you are aiming at. I grew up knowing to wear safety glasses and ear plugs, and I aimed at targets in safe wide open fields. My mother never shouted, “YOU’LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!” because she knew that my father had taught me proper gun safety.
Sounds like the way to go, right? Well… randomly in conversation the other day my father, who is vehemently pro-gun safety, said that he believed that abstinence-only education seems like a “good idea.” It appears that many American’s share that belief as well. Polling studies have shown that about 15% of adults believe that abstinence only education is the best method for teaching our children about sex. While, I don’t have the statistics for how many American’s are both pro-gun AND for pro-abstinence only education, I doubt it would be off base for me to assume that thousands or even millions of American’s feel this way.
In 2007, a federal report stated that abstinence only sex ed. has no impact on teenage sexual activity, but in fact decreases their knowledge of the consequences of having it unsafely. In the states that offer no sexual education, or teach abstinence only, teenage pregnancy is higher than those that teach comprehensive sex ed. University of Washington in Seattle researchers found that comprehensive sex ed decreased the likelihood of teenagers getting each other pregnant by 60%. In 2006, Mississippi’s teenage birth rate was 60% HIGHER than the national average! It was also found that their abstinence-only curriculum contained 80% “false, misleading, or distorted information.” In 2010, Mississippi had 55 births per 1000 girls, the highest in the country. That number, versus the lowest, New Hampshire, which has comprehensive sex ed., with just 16 births per 1000 girls. I too had comprehensive sex education and can say that personally, I feel safer having had it.
Currently, according to the National Rifle Association, 40-45% of American households own firearms. But how many people own sex organs?
Unlike with guns, having a reproductive system is not a choice, but without proper knowledge both can have life or death consequences. The Center for Disease Control reports that the teen birth rate is currently at it’s lowest since 1940. The NRA’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program has reached more than 24 million children since 1988. They also report that accidental gun deaths have declined by 94% since 1904. Click here for NRA stats. So WHY are people trying to take our children back to 1904 when it comes to sexual education?!?! If gun safety prevents death and injuries from misfires, and comprehensive sex ed. prevents unplanned pregnancies and deadly STDs, then how can there seriously be people out there supporting one and not the other? Here kids… have this gun and reproductive organs, hangout with your friends, go through puberty and the whirlwind of hormones of your teenage years, but JUST DON’T USE EITHER OF THEM.
The Point: Informative and comprehensive education is ALWAYS the right choice for our youth. The true, and absolute best, way to prevent accidents is to know in detail how something works… Doesn’t our youth deserve that knowledge about their own bodies…
Whether you’re out, coming out, or still questioning, we at Planned Parenthood want you to know that we are always here for you. Open minded, friendly, and can offer various medical testing whenever you may need it. We also have plenty of condoms and lube just in case you need them. So, to the LGBTQI community, congratulations! Planned Parenthood celebrates with you!
As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Planned Parenthood Federation of America will be hosting a Twitter Town Hall. This will give our followers and others in the Twitter community a chance to engage in a conversation about the importance of breast awareness and early breast cancer detection among women under 40. Our goal is to raise awareness about the facts on how breast cancer affects women, educate women on the benefits of regular clinical breast exams, and encourage women to take swift action if they do notice a change in their breast. The online conversation will allow individuals to ask questions by using the hash tag #betterbreasthealth or mentioning @PPFAQ.
October is Let’s Talk Month!
Let’s face it; having “the talk” can definitely be awkward for both parents and the child. That’s why we celebrate Let’s Talk Month! This is a public education campaign coordinated by Advocates for Youth where parent and child communication regarding sexuality is encouraged. There are programs and activities planned in order to make the communication on sexuality a bit easier for everyone.
There are a lot of questions asked by the youth regarding sex and their bodies. We want adults to be informed and aware of this so they can respond without being embarrassed and uneasy.
The Advocates for Youth website provides communication tips for parents and guardians.
Check out http://www.advocatesforyouth.org for more information.
The REAL Reason Most Women Use Birth Control…
A recent study shows that most women who are actually taking birth control are doing it for all the right reasons. And no, that is not because they want to have sex.
According to Jennifer Frost and Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute, “New evidence confirms what most people already believe: Women use contraception because it allows them to better care for themselves and their families, complete their education and achieve economic security.” Birth control gives women the option to plan their future the way they see fit, and most women like that idea. They want to set life goals for themselves (education or career) before they decide to bring a baby into this world.
These positive consequences of birth control and a woman being in control of their future extends to other things as well. “This means we should see access to abortion in the broader context of women’s lives and their efforts to avoid unplanned childbearing, in light of its potential consequences for them and their families,” said Lawrence B. Finer.
Hey all! Soon we will be gearing up for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Keep your eyes peeled as we will be posting articles and updating you with the latest information about breast cancer awareness.
And don’t forget..wear your PINK!
Reshaping Breast Cancer
If there is one thing we all want treated, it is cancer. Recently, researchers have been doing a study which focused primarily on breast cancer and the different types they have identified. They were broken down into four subtypes: luminal A and B cancers, HER2-enriched cancers, and basal-like cancers. In case you aren’t aware of what exactly these types consist of, here is a brief explanation:
Luminal A- These look like the cells of breast cancers that start in the inner cells lining the mammary ducts (A pathway in the breast where milk passes from the lobules to the nipple.) This type has the highest survival rate and lowest recurrence rate.
Luminal B- This type has cells that look like those of breast cancers that start in the inner cells lining the mammary ducts (A pathway in the breast where milk passes from the lobules to the nipple.) Women often diagnosed with these types of tumors are often younger. In this case, the survival rate is still high, but not as high as a luminal A tumor.
HER2-enriched cancers- When breast cancer has an extra copy of a gene, we refer to it as HER2, which drives the growth.
Basal-like cancers- This type has cells with features similar to those of the outer (basal) cells lining the mammary ducts (A pathway in the breast where milk passes from the lobules to the nipple.) Basal-like cancers often occur in younger women and African American women. These tumors are usually treated with some type of surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
These subtypes may be influencing other types of cancers. Over 800 patients were analyzed and researchers found that these tumors are caused by mutations which are from different genetic traits. With that being said, we may be looking at the possibility of new treatments for cancers in the body. Although this study is something that may take researchers a long time to transform, we are finally on the road to finding better treatment for this disease.
In the meantime, most importantly, don’t forget to get your breast cancer screening, or “mammogram.”