Hempstead, NY—Forty teens from Hempstead and Roosevelt, including Planned Parenthood of Nassau County's (PPNC) Teen Advocate Project peer educators, recently joined hundreds of youth activists from around the state at the New York State Capitol in Albany at the annual Youth Leadership Conference hosted by Family Planning Advocates of New York State.
"The teens who attended the Respect. For me. For you. Conference are passionate about a host of issues, from reproductive health and comprehensive sex education to LGBT concerns," said JoAnn D. Smith, PPNC's President & CEO. "They learned about advocacy skills and how to work with lawmakers for change. At the same time, workshop presentations focused on helping youth develop their identity and self-respect, as well as respect for others."
"When youth have self-respect, they feel empowered," Smith noted. "This gives them the power to do good things for themselves, their communities and the world."
Following workshops and meetings with their state legislators, the teens gathered in the Empire State Plaza concourse carrying signs they made in support of students receiving age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education in grades K-12.
Many people don't realize that much of the comprehensive sex education content focuses on self-awareness, self-respect, respect for others and relationship-building skills, according to Smith. "Age-appropriate sex education for all students beginning at a young age will do a great deal to address the bullying and intolerance many young people face today."
Planned Parenthood and related organizations are trying to have the New York State Department of Education's Health Learning Standards revised to include comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education, as the learning standards are slated for review.
Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC) is one of 89 affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and operates 3 health centers in Nassau County. In 2010, PPNC provided services to more than 13,000 patients during 26,000 visits. We conducted education workshops and street outreach to 27,000 teens and families, and mobilized approximately 6,000 advocates to protect reproductive health care rights. PPNC has served the community for 78 years, and is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals to make responsible choices regarding their sexuality and sexual health. For more information about PPNC’s services and programs, visit www.ppnc.org.