Young people are fighting for everyone’s futures

Young people are fighting for everyone’s futures

Throughout our nation’s history, young people have been at the forefront of making positive changes and countering injustices. But young people need people in positions of power to act, too, to make progress. That’s why a group of young New Orleanians have worked with people of all ages to craft the city’s first ever Youth Master Plan. Youth Advisory Board members Maya Garner and Mitchell Devon, writing in a guest column for The Advocate, explain:   

The Youth Master Plan is a 10-year comprehensive roadmap for creating and sustaining a positive, youth-development focused, results-oriented New Orleans that works for all of our young people. The plan — which is facilitated by the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board, the New Orleans Youth Alliance, and the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families with co-direction and co-authorship by New Orleans youth like us — advances solutions that are proven to work, while supporting, engaging and centering youth from a place of partnership, respect and power-sharing.

Legal back and forth on abortion
Louisiana is one of 13 states with a “trigger law” on its books that automatically made abortion illegal when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. But since then, the state’s ban has been blocked and reinstated three times over six weeks. As The New York Times’ Allison McCann explains, the legal back-and-forth is causing chaos and confusion in states where abortion is outlawed one day and legal the next. 

Kathaleen Pittman, the director of Hope Medical Group for Women, one of three abortion providers in Louisiana and a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the trigger ban, said that when the ban first took effect she began referring patients to clinics in New Mexico and southern Illinois. Before Dobbs, the clinic typically saw 15 to 45 patients a day. But many people who called could not travel or preferred to wait to see what happened in Louisiana. Ms. Pittman said the clinic continued to schedule patients for an initial consultation, so that in the event the ban were blocked, they could schedule their procedures. A few days later, on June 27, a judge blocked enforcement of the ban. “We immediately started calling people and saying, ‘We’re back on — can you come right now?’” Ms. Pittman said.

As the Louisiana Illuminator’s Piper Hutchinson explains, Louisiana’s abortion ban is is yet another health care barrier for transgender people living in the state. 

Dr. Deanna Dawson, an OB-GYN resident in New Orleans, expressed frustration with what the ban means for her transgender patients. “There are trans folks who are able to become pregnant and may not want to continue their pregnancies,” Dawson said. “And on top of dealing with the challenges they face just based on their identity, having this additional barrier and additional challenge of having yet another right obliterated and taken from them just by merely existing, I think is hard to put into words.”

Trouble at DCFS
The recent opioid death of a 2-year-old boy is drawing increased scrutiny to Louisiana’s beleaguered Department of Children and Family Services, which failed to remove the boy from his mother’s care despite multiple reports from doctors and caregivers that he was in danger. The Advocate’s Andrea Gallo reports that lawyers for the family of Mitchell Robinson are demanding more information about how the case was handled by an underfunded department that has struggled for years to attract and retain enough staff to carry out basic tasks.  

It remains unclear to what extent the department investigated Mitchell’s case, whether it offered any services to (mother Whitney) Ard and whether the decision to keep him in his mother’s home came directly from the agency or from a juvenile court judge. Such court proceedings are confidential. … The agency is conducting an internal review of how the medical referrals were handled, and the state’s Office of Inspector General is investigating as well. 

Sweeping a chlorine leak under the rug
In mid-April, residents of Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes were ordered to stay in their homes for three hours after a leak of dangerous chlorine from a nearby chemical plant. Still, 39 people went to hospitals in the hours and days that followed. But new reporting shows the dangerous leak was worse than initially reported by Olin Chemical and should have required a longer stay at home order. This is just the latest example of how lax enforcement by the Department of Environmental Quality, the state agency charged with regulating pollution, has led polluters to routinely report inaccurate information about the harmful chemicals they spew into our communities. The Advocate’s David. J. Mitchell reports

A variety of entities were taking air samples during the leak in the hours and days afterward: DEQ, State Police, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Olin or possibly Dow. While the Dow complex has its own internal air monitors, the data are private unless the companies agree to share them with agencies. Often, companies have standing agreements with agencies to share their data in emergencies, making them public. DEQ officials couldn’t immediately say which company actually conducted air monitoring inside and around Olin’s Blue Cube site: Olin, Dow or both companies. But Iberville officials said they take the view that it is the owner of the facility’s responsibility — in this case Olin — to report accurate information.

Number of the Day
44.8% – Turnover rate among entry-level child welfare specialists in the Department of Children and Family Services in FY 20-21. The overall department turnover rate was 12.7% (Source: House Fiscal Division)