[Updated] Welcome to #FierceFlores headquarters!

I’ve been updating this post all day as I see new stories on #FierceFlores. Scroll down for complete list of news.

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Well, helloooo internet! I am truly amazed by the phenomenon that is now the #FierceFlores meme! It has gone viral, and then some!

Thanks to all of you out there, Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores knows without a doubt that she is not alone. Faced with death threats after she told the story of having an abortion as a teenager as an example of why Nevada needs a new comprehensive sex education law, Lucy Flore didn’t need us to tell her she was doing the right thing. But that doesn’t mean she has to do it alone! We showed those that would silence through acts of violence that we stand with Lucy Flores!

And you let the world know via twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and more!

Of course, we rally around Flores because no one deserves to be shamed or threatened with violence because they shared their story about abortion. Indeed, nobody deserves to be threatened with violence simply for exercising their First Amendment rights!

So this whole #FierceFlores business started with a post I passed around, starting early April 4. I’m sure you’ve seen this pic by now:

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THOUSANDS of you have shared this, liked it, and tweeted it! And now there are more from those, like Planned Parenthood, who want to add to the #FierceFlores meme:

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I also saw this one tweeted out by anonymous the @MemeNVLeg satirist who tweets about the Nevada Legislature:

Meme #NVLEG (MemeNVLeg) on Twitter_Page_2

The early success of the #FierceFlores meme started with many of my friends and colleagues on the East Coast — particularly those at Fem2.0, RH Reality Check, Think Progress, Women Centric, Education for Choice, NARAL Prochoice Virginia, Catholics for Choice, and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. I even saw a retweet from Sen. Al Franken! (Wow!)

More than anything I have seen a tremendous out-pouring of support for not just Lucy Flores, but for me, too. I am touched and honored that so many amazing friends, fans, journalists, activists, and feminist bloggers have taken up this cause!

This would not have taken fire like it has without all of you! Shout-outs to PLAN’s Bob Fulkerson for being the first person I saw use the #FierceFlores hashtag. And thank you to so many great Nevada organizations and people, including Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada, ProgressNow Nevada, the Henderson Democrats, Nevada Women’s Lobby, Ralston Reports, Ray Hagar… and so many I am forgetting right now. (Sorry!)

And thankfully, many Nevada Legislature insiders — including some legislators, such as Assemblyman Elliot Anderson — are showing their support for the assemblywoman, too. This is so important because those threatening messages sent to Lucy Flores can also work to silence other lawmakers who fear being similarly targeted. To the members of the Legislature: I encourage you to take a look at the #FierceFlores meme on twitter! That support isn’t just for Lucy. It’s for all lawmakers who dare to be brave and work toward much-needed change in Nevada!

But my favorite message of all has to be the one I got from Lucy Flores herself:

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Right back at ya, Lucy! Although we’ve never met and I don’t even live in your district, without a doubt, you have inspired me.

And I’m not the only one who has been inspired by Lucy Flores today. There have been some great stories on her and the #FierceFlores meme, too:

  • Think Progress: Nevada Lawmaker Receives Death Threats After Talking About Her Abortion
  • Reno Gazette-Journal: Assemblywoman Flores receives threats after testimony that she had abortion at 16
  • Ralston Reports: Discussing Lucy canceling her appearance because of death threats, as well as her testimony
  • (New!) Huffington Post: Lucy Flores, Nevada Legislator, Receives Threats After Admitting She Had An Abortion
  • (New!) Raw Story: Nevada lawmaker gets death threats after revealing her abortion at sex ed talk
  • (NEW!) Ms. Magazine: NV State Congresswoman [sic] Threatened After Sharing her Abortion Experience
  • (NEW!) Social News Daily: Lucy Flores Testimony Sparks #FierceFlores, #IHadAnAbortion hashtags

But as amazing as all this has been, I don’t want the most important part of this to get lost. I started the #FierceFlores meme because I was outraged that someone was being silenced by blatant terrorist tactics just for speaking at a public meeting. (Because when you use fear tactics and death threats to silence someone, that is the very definition of terrorism.) Regardless of anyone’s opinions about abortion, no one should be threatened with violence for talking at a meeting!

The other reason why I started #FierceFlores is because I don’t want the anti-choice bullies to distract from the reason why we were at that meeting: Getting comprehensive sex education in Nevada! Don’t be fooled! Arguing about abortion rights is a red herring! Assemblywoman Flores did not get up and talk about abortion at the April 1 hearing to make a point about abortion. She spoke about her experience with abortion as a consequence of a lack of sex education.

And on Thursday Lucy released a statement about the intention behind her testimony:

“This week, I shared an extremely personal story about a difficult decision I made as a teenager to have an abortion. I shared that story because I felt it was relevant to the importance of sex education in Nevada schools, and my belief that our children need to be armed with good information in order to make good choices.  While I am heartened, and deeply moved, by the support I have received from far and wide since my testimony, I want to ensure that we don’t lose focus on the real issue at hand. I don’t want the weight of a serious issue like abortion rights to overwhelm the purpose of this bill, which is meant to ensure that other young people are empowered with information that I simply didn’t have as a young person.

I maintain that educating our children is one of the most important things we can do as legislators, and that should include sex education. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass AB230. AB230 is an important piece of legislation that is sorely needed in our state. Nevada’s young people need to have access to information in order to make informed choices, and hopefully avoid having to make difficult decisions as I had to.”

We are the only state with legalized prostitution but we have an abstinence-only based sex ed law. We vote to commodify sex work on the one hand and then vote to withhold potentially life-saving information from our youth with the other hand. Nevada has the fourth highest rate of teen pregnancy. The cognitive dissonance is startling and it hurts us all!

If you really do stand with Lucy Flores, then remember the point of her message. It’s time for comprehensive sex education!

It’s time, Nevada!

This piece was originally posted on the The Sin City Siren website and it’s cross-posted here with permission

Photo credits: The The Sin City Siren Website

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