Every year, Planned Parenthood provides high-quality, affordable and compassionate care to 2.7 million women, men and young people. There is no organization that does more than we do to provide and advocate for family planning, preventive care and sex education. As the most trusted nonprofit, reproductive health care provider in the country, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our patients.
Many of our supporters are equally passionate about the work we do in their communities and have chosen to share their experiences. This is a story from a college student and Planned Parenthood volunteer named Ethan who wanted to share his experience as a patient, so others can understand the importance of creating safe spaces for reproductive care.
One of the reasons I support Planned Parenthood: They provided me with sexual education when I couldn’t get it anywhere else. I did not receive comprehensive sexual education from either my parents or school. Growing up, I did not even know there was an anatomical difference between people. I thought we were all the same. So when I got to high school, I was extremely confused when I took my first health class – it wasn’t educational or accurate.
The class was mostly composed of childbirth videos and scary pictures of sexually transmitted infections. It wasn’t until a representative from Planned Parenthood came in and taught the class for the day that I actually learned extensive and medically accurate facts about reproductive health. She even mentioned healthy relationships and LGBT people in her lecture! For once, I could actually relate to the material being taught in the class. From then on, I knew I wanted to learn all I could to educate others like myself and give back to this wonderful organization.
I will never forget the first time I went into the local Planned Parenthood health center. I had made the decision to become sexually active, and through Planned Parenthood, I knew that I should start getting tested. However during this time, my parents were not supportive of my relationship with my girlfriend, so I was unable to ask them for health coverage in fear of punishment. I had been threatened with homelessness once, and I wasn’t going to risk getting kicked out again. I remembered that Planned Parenthood offered testing without parental consent.
So I immediately scheduled an appointment and went into the center. As soon as I walked through the doors, I felt safe. The center was super clean with LGBT-related posters hanging on the wall and even a gender-neutral bathroom. As a young queer kid, this was highly comforting. I had never been in another public space in my hometown with rainbow posters. Everyone I encountered from the front desk receptionist to the doctor was considerate and took care of me with a smile.
As a queer and transgender boy in high school, I had never been taken seriously or treated so kindly by professionals or adults. Planned Parenthood was also the only health center or public service center that asked for my preferred name and pronouns, and used them as well. I felt truly safe and comfortable with every person I encountered at Planned Parenthood, and the positive experiences only continued when I started volunteering.
I volunteer with Planned Parenthood in the hope that one day I might be that person who goes into schools and educates our youth about comprehensive sexual education. I want to teach future high school students everything I wish I had known at that age and share all of the resources they need, so that they won’t feel confused or alone – like I did.
Planned Parenthood has not only shown me where my passion lies, but has also given me the opportunity to gain valuable leadership skills. These are the people who I can rely on, share my experiences with, and receive support from. I am so proud that Planned Parenthood exists, and I hope that you will see this fabulous community of like-minded, selfless people thrive.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or an endorsement by Planned Parenthood. Check with your health care provider to discuss what is best for you.