Guest Opinions

Why threatening loss of health care avenues is harmful for all

Alyssa Wainaina
Alyssa Wainaina

As we take a moment to reflect on Pride Month, which was in June, it is important to reiterate that the fight for full civil rights continues, especially in Idaho. Right now, millions are having their rights threatened by the proposed health care bill.

As a young person in Idaho, I know firsthand about the importance of access to resources, information and support so people can be their most authentic selves. We simply don’t have good sex education in Idaho. We have limited resources available to us without Planned Parenthood. I turn to Planned Parenthood for information, like millions of others each year, but I know many others who end up at unhelpful websites that don’t share accurate information.

If Planned Parenthood were to be defunded, it would be terrible for myself and my peers. We do not have proper sex education, especially for LGBTQ+ youth. There is next to nothing. The restrictions the state imposes, in addition to not requiring sex education, are a challenge. Whether to provide sex education, and the content itself, is decided by each individual school district and sometimes each individual school. The health education that we do receive is limited and biased. Planned Parenthood offers unbiased and inclusive information to everyone, not just for cisgender and heterosexual people, but for everyone. Any background, any experience.

Here in Idaho, we face a government stacked with people determined to strip away our rights and push us back into the darkness of the closet.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community have unique health care needs. We experience greater obstacles to obtaining and benefiting from sexual and reproductive health services. Those of us with layering identities — people of color, low-income folks, those who are undocumented, and other oppressed identities — face even more barriers to proper health care and education.

I know for a fact that LGBTQ+ youth lack accurate and inclusive sex education. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands strives to offer such programs, as well as provide safe and supportive environments that allow young people to get the information and support we need to make healthy decisions and feel comfortable in our identities.

There is so much more to be done. For example, we aren’t taught about consent, and it is a reflection of the laws currently in place. Our sexual assault laws in Idaho are not as inclusive as they should be. We all have a right to comprehensive information because sexual assault and domestic violence don’t only happen in the ways the laws describe.

Planned Parenthood understands that the struggle for LGBTQ+ liberation is deeply connected to justice for all. I hope that we will one day live in a world where no one experiences discrimination or violence because of their gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation or other identities.

Having always used Planned Parenthood as a resource, and as someone who works with people of all backgrounds, losing this organization would set us back decades.

Alyssa Wainaina is from Meridian and is a youth activist organizer for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.