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Being first-generation Americans in my Lebanese family, my siblings and I were raised in a much different environment than my parents had ever known. I grew up in a conservative, religious Muslim household where sex before marriage was considered taboo. My parents never talked about sex, safe sex, or contraception. As a result, my sisters and brother and I were often left to figure out our own life lessons, forming our individual sets of beliefs based on our personal experiences. This mindset proved to be problematic when all my peers seemed to know so much more about sex while I was left in the dust. I knew sex was not something I felt comfortable discussing with my parents. I relied on the Internet, friends, and my brother for information.

Fortunately, I learned that I was not alone. I learned about safe sex and contraceptives through my friends, who utilized Planned Parenthood’s services. My friends began to use Planned Parenthood for birth control. They shared their experiences with me—about birth control and abortion—and said that Planned Parenthood was a safe environment that they’d go back to.

This summer, I decided to intern for Planned Parenthood to show my appreciation for all the support they offer and the lives they better. They provide a safe place that gives you options and equips you with the tools to make better decisions not only in the present, but in the future. Planned Parenthood is there for my friends, it is there for me, and I want to be there for them.

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