Reproductive and Sexual Health

En Español

For science.
When people receive quality reproductive and sexual health care, education and access, they can fulfill a happier and healthier life. In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the decision that guaranteed the right to abortion in the U.S. Since the court’s decision, more than 30 states have severely restricted abortion access or banned it entirely. The lack of inclusive and accessible reproductive and sexual health care and education negatively affects everyone, but marginalized communities carry a greater burden of harm. Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. In 2019, only 8.2 percent of students report receiving LGBTQ–inclusive sex education and only 19.4 percent of LGBTQ students were taught positive depictions of LGBTQ topics in their schools. Many health care facilities do not provide gender-affirming services. These biased practices put the LGBTQ community at a higher risk for sexually transmitted infections, depression and other negative health outcomes. We must recognize structural discrimination, biases and injustices which can block inclusive and accessible reproductive and sexual health care.

For action.
Urge your elected officials to protect access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, including abortion. Support Black, Indigenous and other people of color reproductive justice organizations through actions like donating to SisterSong’s Birth Justice Care Fund, which provides BIPOC and queer people with pregnancy and postpartum support. Vote in federal, state and local elections for candidates and policies that center inclusive and accessible sexual and reproductive care. Advocate for sex education policymakers to create and execute culturally competent curricula that align with the LGBTQ+-inclusive Professional Learning Standards for Sex Education and National Sex Education Standards. Students can join school health advisory committees and speak to school administrators about the need for inclusive sex education. Promote increased distribution of HPV vaccines, pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and gender-affirming therapists and gynecologic care.

For health.
Women who receive a wanted abortion are more likely to be socioeconomically stable and less likely to stay in violent relationships compared to women who are denied wanted abortions. Students whose sex education expresses support for the LGBTQ+ community are less likely to report bullying based on sexual orientation and gender expression. An LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education curriculum and health care system can lead to a delay in the age of first-time sexual intercourse, reduce the overall number of sexual partners, increase use of contraception, reduce unintended teen pregnancy and reduce rates of teen HIV and other STIs within the LGBTQ+ community.

In celebration.
LBGTQ+ inclusive sex education has increased in several states. In 2022, the queer community recognized that mpox disproportionately affected men who have sex with men and took actions to protect themselves. They advocated for an increase in vaccine distribution and governmental action, declaring that a repeat of the governmental inaction, stigmatization and homophobia during the AIDs epidemic must not repeat itself. In the 2022 midterm election, voters approved ballot measures in California, Michigan and Vermont to protect state abortion rights and rejected amendments that would have further restricted abortion rights in Montana and Kentucky. Reproductive justice organizations are continuously hosting partnerships, trainings and educational programs to ensure everyone is able to choose when, if and how to have children, and to have the support they need to give birth to and raise children in a safe and healthy manner.

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American Public Health Association