Category Archives: Sexual Health

Sound…Camera…Action! Maine Teens Making Movies

This week, we welcome a guest blogger — Faith, a high school student from the greater Bangor area.

A group of twenty-five teens sat in a room, buzzing with excitement at the chance to voice their opinion. In public, the topic they were discussing would cause some awkward stares, hushed voices, and very quiet teenagers.

Sexual health is one of those topics that is rarely discussed seriously, but is incredibly important to be informed about. When I was given the chance to educate parents and  teens, I – along with many others – jumped on it.

I’m Faith, a teen heavily involved with a group called Project AWARE. Project AWARE is a non-profit organization based in Southern Maine, whose goal is to empower and educate youth by giving them the opportunity to make movies or videos on very important topics in life.

The Family Planning Association of Maine contracted with Project AWARE to help them create a 10-20 minute movie on teen sexual health, along with four one-to-two-minute videos, called scenarios.

This long journey to create the movie began last December. Continue reading

Because the 1950’s Was Such a Great Decade for Women

Last week the conservative majority of a U.S. House subcommittee voted to completely eliminate the federal Title X Family Planning Program, cutting nearly $300 million in funding. They also voted to cut $85 million from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and increase funding for abstinence-only education by $15 million.

Seems kind of crazy, right? Unfortunately, it’s been crazy times for women’s health care and reproductive rights in this country for a couple of years now. And the lunacy continues.

We’ve got people saying low-income women shouldn’t have access to birth control and people arguing that preventive care for women shouldn’t be covered by insurance. These are the same folks fighting against birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act.

The recent subcommittee vote is merely political posturing since the Senate is sure to reject the proposed funding cuts. The vote to cut all funding for family planning is another in a long line of actions designed to… well, I’m not quite sure what they’re designed to do but I have a hunch.

I’ve made a list of what I think these conservative legislators may be trying to achieve with their actions. Let me know what you think. Continue reading

One of the Best Organizations You’ve Never Heard Of…

Last week, I shared this cool video from the Gates Foundation as a way to highlight the impact of family planning efforts in developing countries. An astute On the Front Lines reader posted a comment in which she mentioned Pathfinder International.

You’ve never heard of Pathfinder International? Until I started working at the FPA, I hadn’t either. But I’m so glad to have learned about this amazing organization, with roots right here in New England.

It’s not a surprise that many people here in the U.S. don’t know about Pathfinder. Even their website acknowledges this with the comment, “We’re often unseen.”

How does an international organization that’s been around since 1957, works in over 20 countries, collaborates with more than 200 local partner organizations, and employs over 850 people remain relatively unknown even among advocates and supporters of family planning in this country? Continue reading

Good News for Mainers — Supreme Court Upholds ACA

Just in time for the July 4th holiday, there was good news coming out of Washington last week!

On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld almost all of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This decision means that tens of millions of Americans who are currently uninsured will have access to comprehensive health insurance coverage, either through Medicaid or private insurance.

Here at the FPA, we’re thrilled with the Supreme Court decision because the ACA includes several provisions that are critical to the reproductive health of Maine women, teens, and young adults.  These include: Continue reading

Don’t Have Sex — Because You Will Get Pregnant & Die

Coach teaches a sex ed class in the movie "Mean Girls"

Last week, we talked about the high teen pregnancy and STD infection rates in the U.S. compared to other developed countries. It turns out that differing societal attitudes towards teen sexuality is the biggest factor accounting for the huge gap. European parents and other adults are much more accepting of teen sexuality and teens consider it the norm to take precautions when engaging in sexual activity.

Quite different from the “sex is bad” approach so common in this country.

Aside from changing our entire country’s cultural norms around sexuality, what can we do to reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection rates? Continue reading

Why Other Countries “Do It” Better


“In any given society, at any given moment in history, people become sexual the same way they become anything else. Without much reflection, they pick up directions from their social environment.”

~ John H. Gagnon, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Stony Brook University

Well said!

Professor Gagnon’s statement speaks to one of my biggest questions:

Why does the U.S. have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates of any developed country? Continue reading

What About the Boys?

Continuing our focus on National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, this week’s post is written by one of FPA’s Pregnancy Prevention Coordinators.

I’ll never forget it. Standing in front of a hundred or so eighth-grade boys, I asked them where they got their information about sex and staying healthy.  After an uncomfortable silence, one brave soul shrugged and said “Mostly…from the streets.”

The ‘streets’ he was referring to are lined with oak trees and sidewalks.  But, I knew what he meant. I had been asked to speak to that group of boys because the principal discovered an underground condom ring going on within the school.  Yep, that’s right.  Some entrepreneurial boy realized he could make good money selling condoms to his classmates.  The same condoms, mind you, that can be legally obtained in about ten different stores in their town.  This makes you wonder…

When I asked them if they had these conversations with an adult at home, they slowly shook their heads.  A few gave me a patronizing smile with that “You’re outta your mind, lady.” look.  I have posed this question to students before, so I wasn’t surprised by their reaction.  But, something about that particular instance has always stuck with me.  Continue reading

What are You Doing for the ‘Jessie’ in Your Life?

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.

Here at the FPA, every day is devoted to the prevention of teen and unplanned pregnancy. Our clinical staff, prevention staff, legislative advocacy staff, and the administrative staff that keep the business side of things going are all committed to helping women and men plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancy.

But what about all the folks who aren’t doing teen pregnancy prevention work as part of their day job — is there anything the average person can do?

By way of answering that question, I’d like to tell you about Jessie.

Continue reading

GYT — It’s National STD Awareness Month

April is National STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to call attention to the impact of sexually transmitted diseases and to promote STD testing across the United States.

You may not think you’re affected by STDs but we all are in some way or other.

Every year, STDs cost the U.S. health care system $17 billion — and they cost affected individuals even more in immediate and long-term health consequences. Continue reading