Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth is a Washington, D.C.-based, international, influential pro-abortion activist organization, focused on "comprehensive sexuality education" for children k-12. Advocates for Youth claims to have spearheaded the movement against teaching abstinence to children, framing it "as an assault on public health science", and "coined the phrase 'science vs. ideology'" to "describe the assault by social conservatives on public health research within their fields".
Advocates for Youth claims that their work resulted in the "National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, grades K through 12" which have been "adapted or adopted by 42 percent of school districts" as of 2017.
According to their website, Advocates for Youth is a "pioneer in the school-based health center movement", they "framed the debate over abstinence-only 'sex education' as an assault on public health science and coined the phrase 'science vs. ideology' [which] was...a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s guiding principles." They founded the "first fully-integrated hub for online activism and youth-led grassroots movement building for young advocates across the country and around the world"
- Since 1980, Advocates for Youth has worked with youth leaders to ensure that all young people's rights are respected and that we have the tools we need to protect ourselves from STIs, HIV, and unintended pregnancy.
- For nearly four decades, the organization has worked tirelessly to promote effective adolescent reproductive and sexual health programs and policies in the United States and the global south. Below is a select list of the organization’s accomplishments spanning its 38-year history. Advocates for Youth is:
- One of the first organizations to put adolescents' reproductive and sexual health needs on the agenda of the international family planning field, establishing the International Clearinghouse on Adolescent Fertility as early as 1980.
- An early promoter of edu-tainment, establishing the Los Angeles-based Media Project (1980-2005) to provide storyline ideas, script review, up-to-date research, access to experts and an awards ceremony to encourage television writers and directors to incorporate information and images into television programming that educates viewers about sexuality. Programs such as ER, Dawsons Creek, My So Called Life, Life Goes On, Cagney and Lacy, Moesha and 90210, among others regularly used Media Project services.
- The creator of Life Planning Education, a 1983 groundbreaking sex education program that incorporated sex education with vocational, educational and financial planning education. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the program was translated into multiple languages and used by communities in more than 50 countries around the globe.
- A pioneer in the school-based health center movement, establishing the Support Center for School-Based Health Care in 1984 and helping to expand the number of school-based and school-linked health centers from less than 500 to more than 1500 over a six year period. In the early 1990, Advocates co-founded and helped launch the National Assembly for School-Based Health Care to carry on this work.
- One of the first mainstream organizations to recognize the potential danger of HIV for adolescents, sponsoring a trailblazing first National Conference on AIDS and Adolescents among other HIV prevention initiatives as early as 1987.
- A trendsetter in cultural advocacy, coordinating the European Study Tour as early as 1988, to spearhead a new narrative in the US recognizing youth sexual development natural and healthy. The organization co-produced Let’s Talk About Sex, a provocative documentary designed to challenge the country to rethink its approach to young people and sexuality. The documentary premiered in April 2011 on TLC to more than 1. 5 million households.
- One of two co-sponsors of the First Inter-Africa Conference on Adolescent Reproductive Health in 1992. The conference highlighted adolescent health issues in Africa, examined program models, linked research to program development, and establish a network for study and advocacy. The conference was attended by over 300 delegates from 28 African countries.
- The founder, in 1998 of the first internet intervention for lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, Youth Resource, and its Spanish-language sister site, Ambiente Joven.
- An incubator for seminal organizations in the field. Advocates helped birth the National Assembly for School-Based Health Care, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, the Center for Adolescent Health and the Law, and the Queer African Youth Initiative.
- A leader in the field of youth empowerment, centering the voices of youth most impacted as early as 1990 and promoting youth involvement on HIV community planning groups, the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, the President's Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, and local School Health Advisory Councils across the country. Advocates continues to maintain a Youth Activist Network, comprised of 100,000 young activists and leaders from around the country and the world working in support of youth sexual health and rights.
- A regular contributor to and influencer of the media regarding adolescent reproductive and sexual health issues. In 2001, Advocates framed the debate over abstinence-only “sex education” as an assault on public health science and coined the phrase “science vs. ideology”. The phrase was later adopted by environmental rights and medical associations, including the Society of Concerned Scientists to describe the assault by social conservatives on public health research within their fields. The term later became a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s guiding principles.
- The founder of Amplify, in 2001–the first fully-integrated hub for online activism and youth-led grassroots movement building for young advocates across the country and around the world.
- A pioneer of strategies to redress homophobia and transphobia in communities of color. Advocates founded the Anti-homophobia/Transphobia Project in 2007 to provide information, resources, and assistance to more than 400 community-based organizations serving youth of color around the country, helping them to make their programming and their communities more inclusive of LGBT youth of color. ::In 2012, the organization leveraged its domestic expertise to launch an LGBT youth health and rights program in Uganda, Nigeria and Jamaica.
- Co-founded the Future of Sex Education Initiative (FoSE) in 2007, a collaboration to promote comprehensive sexuality education in America’s public schools. In 2012, FoSE produced the National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, grades K through 12. The Standards provide the first-ever guidance for schools on the minimum essential content and skills students need to learn in each grade. A CDC survey in 2017 showed the Standards had been adapted or adopted by 42 percent of school districts.
- The home of the Great American Condom Campaign, now known as the Condom Collective, launched in 2009 as a partnership with Trojan-brand condoms to normalize condom use by sexually active youth on college campuses. Since then, almost 10,000 students have served as “SafeSites” providing no-cost Trojan ® brand condoms to almost 10 million young people and advocating for improved contraceptive access on more than 1,000 campuses nationwide.
- The creator of the groundbreaking 1 in 3 Campaign, an initiative launched in 2012 that shifted abortion advocacy in the U.S. to one designed to break through people’s silence around their personal experiences with abortion and shatter abortion stigma through the use of first-person storytelling. The campaign launched other storytelling projects in the field and helped undergird the fields’ legal efforts in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. Young people on 100 college campuses participate in the campaign each semester, helping to creating a pipeline of emerging young leaders for the reproductive health, rights and justice movement. In 2019 the campaign evolved into Abortion Out Loud, focused on ensuring young people’s access and centering their stories.
- The publisher of Rights, Respect, Responsibility (2016), the first K-12th grade sex education curriculum. Rights, Respect, Responsibility is fully mapped to the National Sex Education Standards, LGBTQ inclusive and covers all 16 topics recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as essential components of sexual health education. The curriculum is free and its lesson plans are being used in more than 100 school districts, including 11 of the largest 25 school districts reaching more than 2.3 million students.
- One of the primary authors of the International Guidance on Sexuality Education, published by UNICEF and UNESCO to offer curriculum developers guidance on the topics and skills young people need to learn at each developmental stage to grow into sexually healthy adults.
- Author of the first evidence-based HIV prevention intervention designed specifically for Black and Latino young men who have sex with men, ages 16-19. Adapted from Many Men Many Voices, Get Your Life can be implemented by community-based organizations with support from schools. Evaluation shows impact on young people knowledge, skills and intent to reduce risk.
Taxpayer Funded CDC 'Partner'
- "The following non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receive funding from CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health to provide intensive technical assistance and capacity-building support to local and state education agencies to improve health and educational outcomes among children and adolescents"
- Jennifer Augustine (Principal Investigator)
- Daniella Thorne (Program Manager) (3A)
- Mary Beth Szydlowski (Program Manager) (3B)
- Brittany Broaddus-Smith (Program Manager)
- Jennifer Augustine, Executive Vice President
- Amber Barcel, Senior Policy Analyst
- Arlene Basilio, Senior Design Manager
- Ashley Benson Speelmans, Program Manager
- Emily Bridges, Head of Brand Impact and Communications
- Roselyn Buensuceso, Youth Activist Network Manager
- Armonte Butler, Associate Director, LGBTQ Health & Rights
- Nicole Cheetham, Division Director, International Youth Health and Rights
- Cynthia Chinchilla Angel, AMAZE International Senior Program Manager
- Geoff Corey, Director, Campaigns and Rapid Response
- Laura Davis, Division Director, Adolescent Sexual Health Services
- Joi Dean, Content Coordinator
- Kathleen Farrell, Vice President, Finance and Administration
- Yvonne Gaither, Director, Finance and Administration
- Pearl Gahwera, AMAZE International Global Partnerships Fellow
- Nora Gelperin, Director of Sex Education & Training
- Dr. Rachael E. Gibson, Senior Program Manager of AMAZE Education
- Chelsea Gonzalez, If/When/How Reproductive Justice Fellow and Advocates' Law and Policy Analyst
- Emma Grasso Levine, Manager, Know Your IX
- Sydney Greene, Senior Manager of Digital Content and Strategy
- Naura Nabila Haryanto, AMAZE Global Partnership Fellow
- Debra Hauser, President
- Shirley Huang, AMAZE Senior Administrative Assistant
- Tonya Katcher, Program Director for Clinical Services and Contraceptive Access
- Kinjo Kiema, Director of Youth Organizing & Campaigns
- Renee Lavigne, Associate Director of Development and Systems
- Tamara Marzouk, Director of Abortion Access
- Angela Maske, Strategic Projects Manager
- Brittany McBride, Associate Director, Sex Education and Training
- Hortense Hunter Moore, Executive Assistant
- Paris L. A. Moore, Head of Development, Donor Partnerships & Engagement
- Ramish Nadeem, Program Manager, International and Muslim Youth Advocacy
- Victoria Ogunleye, Digital Sex Education Manager
- Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, Director, LGBTQ Health and Rights
- Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, Vice President of Policy, Partnerships, & Organizing
- Gabriella Rodriguez, Youth Activist Network Manager
- LeKara Simmons, AMAZE Program Manager and Strategic Brand Ambassador
- Mary Beth Szydlowski, Associate Director, Healthy & Supportive Schools
- Daniella Thorne, Associate Director, Sexual Health Education
- Darcy Weaver, Associate Director for AMAZE International
- Caitlin Viccora, Program Manager, Healthy & Supportive Schools
- Han Vu, Comptroller
Board of Directors
- Allison Agwu, MD, Chair
- Naina Dhingra, Vice Chair
- Antoinette Jones, Secretary
- Garrett Mize, JD, Treasurer
- Deborah Arrindell, MPH
- August Clayton
- Erin Kennedy
- Adrian Nava
- Joseph Nelson, PHD
- Steve North, MD, MPH
- Zenen Jaimes Perez
- Cherisse Scott
- Fred Sherman, CPA
- Mia Kim Sullivan
- Cathryn Torres
- Maria Trent, MD, MPH
- Shabre West
- Rebecca Whitehead (Bex)
- Debra Hauser, MPH, President
'Harmful Parental Involvement Restrictions'
Advocates for Youth argues that children who seek abortions should not be forced to tell their parents because they are the "are the experts of their own lives" and parental notification may "delay or prevent" an abortion.
- Young people are the experts of their own lives and are most equipped to decide whom they involve in their care. Research has shown that these laws, which disproportionately impact young women of color and immigrant youth, often delay or prevent young people’s access, endangering their health and safety. A majority of Americans support young people’s self-autonomy and right to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health without their parent’s involvement.
Some children may be subject to tell their parents that they want to get an abortion may subject them to "risk of violence." "Forcing teens to involve parents in these circumstances puts them at particular risk of violence," according to the Advocates for Youth website.
Some argue that if there is a real danger to a child receiving an abortion if she is forced to tell her parents, an option for that child would be "Judicial Bypass", which would allow the child to argue her desperate need for an abortion to a judge. But Advocates for Youth is against that option, as well, arguing in part that the child seeking an abortion may be "denied bypass [of parental notification requirements] by resistant or biased judges..."
Advocates for Youth also warns that illegal alien children may have additional barriers to getting an abortion:
- "Parental involvement laws also disproportionately affect immigrant youth, especially youth who are undocumented, have unclear documentation, are from mixed-status households, and/or whose parents or legal guardians have been detained or deported," they explain. "All young people including immigrant youth deserve the right to access confidential reproductive healthcare," states Advocates for Youth.
Some children may go to a state without parental consent laws, argues Advocates for Youth. This is not acceptable because "cost and distance of travel as well as some state requirements of multiple appointments before receiving abortion care can be prohibitive."
From the website:
- "The American Medical Association, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other health professional organizations are in agreement against mandatory parental involvement in abortion decision making."
- "Young people deserve the right to access the full range of reproductive and sexual health services they need, which includes abortion care. And right now, young people are at the forefront of the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements. Activists must be in solidarity with them against the harmful parental involvement restrictions that can put their health and well-being at risk. Yet few are fighting to abolish parental involvement laws; and even when pro-active abortion rights legislation is introduced, it rarely, if ever, addresses minors' needs. Legislation which seeks to protect people’s access to abortion must include young people and protect their access to safe, legal, and affordable abortion care.
Abortion Care Network
- Our Legacy (Accessed August 14 2022)
- Funded NGOs (Accessed August 14 2022)
- Our Team (Accessed August 14 2022)
- Board of Directors (Accessed August 14 2022)
- Abortion and Parental Involvement Laws (Accessed August 14 2022)
- Abortion and Parental Involvement Laws A Threat to Young People’s Health and Safety (Accessed August 14 2022)
- https://www.abortioncarenetwork.org/ally-organizations/ Ally Organizations, accessed July 23 2017
- https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/communities-against-hate-front-line-organizations-20170313.pdf Communities Against Hate: Front-Line Organizations, accessed July 23 2017