CJ Riehl never liked how clinic workers treated him when he would get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
It was the subtle things. Raised eyebrows, disapproving facial expressions and uncomfortable body language when Riehl would tell them he is in an open relationship.
“Whenever they’re investigating my sexual history, the tone they’re using is judgmental of that kind of relationship,” said the West Palm Beach videographer.
But Riehl, a transgender male, never feels judged when he visits Planned Parenthood clinics.
“Flyers I've seen in Planned Parenthood clinics are OUT Magazine on the table,” he said, “Or one I recently saw written by high school and early-college kids who were queer.”
Palm Beach County adults like Riehl, who is 25, usually have the means to pay for STD testing, either directly or through health insurance policies.
Teenagers have less means. So Planned Parenthood clinics in Palm Beach County offer free or inexpensive STD testing, sexual education, contraception and birth control to them. Teens do not need to prove they live in the county.
Clinics in the county serve around 1,300 teens, said Lillian Tamayo, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. Her chapter covers Florida’s east coast, Gainesville and Tallahassee. Palm Beach County’s Planned Parenthood clinics are the only ones in South Florida that offer teens free testing.
But the “free” part has become uncertain since April 13. President Donald Trump on that day signed a bill to let states deny some federal money to organizations that provide legal abortions, like Planned Parenthood. Abortions make up three percent of its services, the organization reported in 2014.
Tamayo said her chapter gets around $60,000 from a Title X grant to Florida. Title X money is meant for organizations that help the poor with contraception, pregnancy health, and related services. All that federal money goes to Palm Beach County’s Planned Parenthood clinics to help pay for testing, sex ed, pregnancy testing, contraceptives and birth control.
Republican Governor Rick Scott is no friend to Planned Parenthood. Last year he signed a bill to cut state spending to clinics that do abortions. In 2015, when state health officials found no evidence Planned Parenthood traffics in fetal organs, Scott’s staff tried to cut this fact from the eventual press release.
SFGN asked Scott’s office if he plans to cut Title X money to Planned Parenthood clinics. His office has yet to reply.
Tamayo is not hopeful.
"I'm sure if it wasn't a governor Rick Scott, they would say 'Oh my God, we provide X amount of dollars to a private provider who has expertise in this work, and disenfranchised women can match these public dollars,’” she said. “A great public private partnership to provide quality public health care."
Republicans dislike Planned Parenthood because their clinics perform abortions. But abortion is only one part of women’s health, Tamayo argues, and clinics educate women on their options, including adoption and pregnancy care if patients decide to have their babies.
"Those are decisions that are between her and her family, her god, and her doctor,” she said. “Shaming women when they're making these deeply personal decision is heartless and cruel. And politicians have no right to insert themselves in that deeply personal process."
Despite the possibility of funding cuts, these Planned Parenthood clinics in South Florida are scheduled to offer free STD testing on Tuesday.
Palm Beach County
Boca Raton: 8177 Glades Rd
Wellington: 10111 Forest Hill Boulevard, Suite 340
West Palm Beach: 931 Village Blvd. Suite 904
Pembroke Pines: 263 North University Drive
Miami: Second and third floors of 585 Northwest 161st Street
Miami: 3119A SW 22nd Street