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Tape delay blogging from SYRF

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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June 7, 2006

I was in DC yesterday and tried live blogging from the Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom (SYRF) Student Summit put on by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, but my blackberry wouldn’t cooperate. Today SYRF students from around the country are on Capitol Hill lobbying their congressmen to endorse the REAL Act. It was great to be around so many students that are engaged and active on this issue. During lunch I chatted with some of the students about the dangers of ab-only programs and we started talking about the benefits of peer education. Sure enough, the Daily News ran a story today that mentions a peer education group in NYC.

More from the article after the jump.

Shaquana Gardener is an 11th-grader in public school who works as a peer educator at Planned Parenthood. In her semester-long health ed class at school, however, birth control has not been discussed.

“They’ve taught us about HIV and AIDS and infectious diseases and how to protect yourself against them,” says the lower East Side teen. That means they’ve discussed condoms as disease fighters.

Her class has also studied how conception occurs, right down to the diagrams of the birth canal. “But contraception,” says Shaquana, “it’s not in the text book. I looked through the index. [Even] when you get to the pregnancy unit, there’s no mention of contraception.”

A spokeswoman at the city Department of Education says officials are reviewing the health education curriculum and plan to update it this fall. Perhaps this means it will come into the 21st century – or even the 20th.

No mention of contraception? That’s useful for sexually active teens wanting to avoid unintended pregnancy.

Fortunately, in addition to the Planned Parenthood there are other great programs training peer educators on issue of reproductive health. The NYCLU has an amazing program called the Teen Health Initiative that advocates for minors’ rights to confidential health care. We should all be thankful that groups like Planned Parenthood and the NYCLU have these programs. As I was reminded yesterday, the federal government gives $0 to fund comprehensive sex ed programs so we need all the help we can get.