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CT Students Teaching About Responsible Sexuality

July 21, 2011

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Fifteen high schoolers and five college students from Connecticut have just returned from a national youth conference held in conjunction with Planned Parenthood Federation of America's 2011 Summit in the nation's capital. The 400 participants learned from each other and lobbied their members of Congress on reproductive-health issues.

Asia James, a rising senior at East Haven High School, has been involved since her freshman year with Students Teaching About Responsible Sexuality (STARS), the teen peer program at New Haven-based Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. James says she got a chance to speak to Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both D-Conn.

"I went there to lobby for Medicaid because the teens need Medicaid in order to access our services, and I went there to lobby to keep funding for teen-pregnancy prevention and sexual-health education."

James says being in STARS gives her a chance to help other teens who have questions about sexually transmitted diseases, birth control or sexual identity.

Zak Kirwood is a rising senior and a Planned Parenthood campus-action intern at Wesleyan University.

"That entails planning events on campus related to reproductive justice, and doing organizing on campus and advocacy with the local, state and the national government."

Reproductive justice, Kirwood says, goes beyond reproductive rights to encompass economic justice, LGBT rights and general health-care access. At the conference, he led a workshop about the organizing he's done at Wesleyan.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT