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Amidst attacks on LGBTQ+ identities and sexual and reproductive health care, efforts to protect rights are more intertwined than ever

TRENTON, NJ — While Pride is celebrated each June, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ) honors and celebrates the diversity, strength, humanity, and power of LGBTQ+ communities all year long. All people should have the freedom to be their authentic selves, and be able to access the health care and education they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

Planned Parenthood supporters in New Jersey spent the last month participating in Pride events across the state. Advocates attended more than 20 Pride celebrations in Bergen, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, and Union counties. Anne Marie Venezia, Advocacy Manager at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey, joined Congressman Josh Gottheimer at a round table to discuss attacks on LGBTQ+ youth and how our leaders can serve and protect queer youth. Health center staff promoted the importance of knowing your status at events for National HIV Testing Day. And Avery Heimann, Patient Navigator for Gender Affirming Services at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey, penned an op-ed on the importance of acknowledging the LGBTQ+ movement’s history as we reckon with the ongoing attacks of the present.

While Pride is a celebration, it is essential to also raise awareness of the ways those in power are attempting to limit people’s freedoms and hurt LGBTQ+ young people. LGBTQ+ communities continue to face unconscionable attacks on their right to control their bodies, their humanity, and their access to health care and inclusive education. Here in New Jersey, there have been efforts over the last several weeks in several school districts to pass a school board policy that would forcibly ‘out’ LGBTQ+ young people, placing them in potentially dangerous situations at home. These attempted policy changes follow additional recent efforts to ban books in libraries that deal with LGBTQ+ identities, and politically-motivated attempts to discredit our state’s recently updated standards around sex education by engaging in homophobia and transphobia. Luckily, in response to each of these attacks, communities across New Jersey have come out in full force to oppose efforts to limit our young people’s freedoms and access to education. This support is backed by the Murphy administration, as Attorney General Mathew Platkin has clearly and consistently prevented any anti-LGBTQ+ policies from taking effect in New Jersey schools.

Statement from Jackie Cornell, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey:

“The movements for LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive health care access are closely intertwined. LGBTQ+ people are Planned Parenthood’s patients, staff, and supporters. LGBTQ+ communities are part of the reason Planned Parenthood fights to provide health care, information, and education, as well as reproductive freedom in New Jersey and beyond. 

“In a moment in history where attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, sex education, and reproductive health care access continue to increase, we stand in solidarity: these harmful policies impact us all. Efforts to control LGBTQ+ individuals’ lives mirror the efforts to control people’s access to sexual and reproductive health care. The fundamental right to control one’s body and future is not limited to any one gender identity or sexual orientation. No one is free unless they control their own body.

“While Pride Month has ended, know that the work is not over. In a time when rights and identities are under attack — from restrictions on abortion, gender-affirming care, sex education, and even the books in our libraries — Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey will never stop fighting for the ability for everyone to make their own decisions and lead their own lives.”

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