Our lively book event in New Jersey was great.  I was especially honored that Reginald “Reggie” Rosarian, the Director of Education from the local Planned Parenthood (PP) attended, enabling me to serve as a bridge in yet another community, connecting caring citizens with a representative from a vital local resource.

With all that is going on in the politics of reproductive rights these days, I was glad to see that parents are aware that they play a key role on so many levels: in their own home with their own kids, as community members with the other youth in their lives, as members of a school community, and as members of the broader society.  But it all starts at home, and that’s where the focus of the night started.  I was glad Reggie got to share that their local affiliate offers “Living Room Chats,” in which a PP Educator will provide a program for teens in a private residence.  Judging from the number of eyebrows that were raised when he said that, I’m hopeful that that will lead to a teen program.

In addition, a participant informed us that a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) had recently provided programs in local schools.  They were not based on medically accurate facts and shamed young people who are sexually active.  Other parents in the room were shocked.  She’s complained to her school and the organization won’t be invited back.  But please know that this is a pattern that is happening in communities in the US and Canada.  These programs have repeatedly been shown to be ineffective, while comprehensive sexuality education—which includes both abstinence and contraception—has repeatedly been shown to be effective and is supported by an overwhelming majority of parents, teens, and all the leading medical establishments.

Details about an upcoming school board meet-the-candidates event were provided by a participant, and we discussed the importance of local school boards.  For anyone who is considering raising their voice about the importance of comprehensive sex ed at any public events, you might find it worthwhile to spend a few minutes first reading some extremely helpful tips from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US at https://siecus.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/CAT-Sept-2018-Final.pdf.

I am a person who knows that sex ed is a human right, and a person who wants to be a positive force in getting others to act on behalf of spreading that right to all.  As such, every time I open a newspaper lately, I see new obstacles.  Yet every time I see a group of concerned citizens like the ones I saw on Thursday—like the ones I’ve seen at every book event I’ve done—I’m filled with hopeful energy.  More than any of the important specific issues we discussed, it was the expressions, the focused concentration, the body language that said, “This is vital, this is challenging, I care about this and I want to do my best at moving my family, my community, and our world to a better place,” which touched me most.  From the bottom of my heart: thank you.

Next appearance: I’ll be a Featured Author at the annual National Association on Mental Illness NAMI-NYS Education Conference in Albany, NY on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.