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Planned Parenthood Teen Summit Trains Young Activists to Stand Up for Sex Education and Health Care
Young Leaders Gathering in Los Angeles March 30–31
LOS ANGELES — Young activists from across the country meet this weekend in Los Angeles to share organizing strategies, network and get involved in the movement promoting increased access to medically accurate sex education and reproductive health care. The Young Leaders Summit — the first of its kind for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) — is part of the organization's annual national conference and health care institute, March 30–31, 2007.
"Teaching teens to advocate for their health and well-being is a Planned Parenthood priority. At the current rate, approximately 750,000 U.S. teenagers will become pregnant this year, and nearly four million will contract a sexually transmitted infection. This is unconscionable," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. "When it comes to reproductive health care and information, young people have the most at stake. They are an essential part of Planned Parenthood’s mission and work, and it's critical that we link arms with them to protect their health, their safety and their futures."
Despite overwhelming public support for medically accurate sex education — more than 80 percent of Americans want schools to teach it — currently there is no federal program dedicated to supporting comprehensive sex education. It is estimated that only five percent of America's school children are taught comprehensive sexuality education that includes information about contraception and safer sex in addition to abstinence. To fill the gap, Planned Parenthood has trained peer educators to teach teens about responsible decision-making, healthy relationships and reproductive health.
"Being a peer educator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has been a vessel through which I have been able to give back the information that was taught to me. As the president of Brothers of Kwanza, an African-American social change group for high school young men, I will use information and newly acquired skills from the summit to motivate my 'brothers,'" said Jeffrey, a 17-year-old activist who plans to attend the summit.
In Washington, DC, Planned Parenthood is urging passage of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act, which will increase access to comprehensive sex education programs in schools. The REAL Act, introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rep. Chris Shays (R-RI), would create a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support comprehensive sex education programs across the country.
“It's time to focus on real solutions for parents and teenagers. The REAL Act represents a significant step toward reducing the numbers of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among young people. We urge Congress to put public health first and pass this bill,” added Richards.
For more information on the REAL Act or on Planned Parenthood’s resources for teens and parents, please visit www.plannedparenthood.org.