Protect Privacy & Autonomy
A Deeper Commitment to Empowering Young New Yorkers
In the summer of 2019, the NYCLU welcomed Aliyah Ansari as our Teen Health Strategist, a new position within the Education Policy Center. With deep experience as a sexuality and health educator in New York City, Aliyah joined our team to better address the intersection of education policy development and direct education for teenagers about their health.
Adolescents often do not get the healthcare they need. Major barriers include a fear that healthcare providers will disclose confidential information about sensitive issues to their parents or guardians and a lack of comprehensive sexual health education in schools. Aliyah’s work is essential in our effort to advocate for inclusive, medically accurate health education and empower young people with knowledge about their rights.
For instance, in 2019 the NYCLU released a revised version of our Teenagers, Health Care, and the Law guide about minors’ rights to confidentiality. This resource is for teenagers, parents and the professionals—social workers, counselors, teachers, and medical providers—who work with young people. Aliyah is using the publication to develop adolescent health workshops to present around the state, and she is working with students in our Teen Activist Project (TAP) to develop a youth-friendly version.
“There’s a lot of pushback on young people taking charge of their own healthcare, but teaching them about their rights shows them how to be independent and take care of themselves,” said Aliyah, who has seen firsthand how this independence also helps youth become leaders. “Peer education programs make it okay to talk about difficult things, particularly when you’re talking about health and sexual health.”