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Second Installment of In Community Launched

Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest is thrilled to share that the second installment of our storytelling project, In Community, can be watched here

Launched last summer, In Community aims to spotlight local community stories and partnerships across San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties – and highlights the advocacy efforts of Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest.

Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being introduced across the country. Although California is generally considered to be a champion of LGBTQ+ rights, local school districts in Riverside County are enacting dangerous policies that put queer and trans students at risk. We are proud to introduce our second installment of this In Community story focusing on the fight for safer schools for LGBTQ+ youth in our communities.

Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest and community partners are working together to protect LGBTQ+ students across Riverside County through the Riverside County LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition, which believes that schools should be safe spaces for learning – regardless of a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. 

All young people deserve affirming and inclusive spaces to learn, thrive, and be their full, authentic selves – free from harmful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and policies that violate their rights and negatively impact their mental health. 

A national survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health conducted just last year, spotlights some alarming statistics: The survey found that nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide and 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Further, the survey found that fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming. Although this data is alarming, it details the importance of safe and supportive school environments, as LGBTQ+ youth who found their school to be affirming, reported lower rates of suicide attempts than those who did not have supportive school environments.

The Riverside County LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition includes members from the following organizations, as well as individual community members: Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, Transgender Resource Advocacy Network Service (T.R.A.N.S.), Alianza, LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, IE Prism Collective, Our Schools East Valley, Equality California, SBX Youth & Family Services, Riverside Pride, IE United, Expanding Identities Development.

Learn more about the important and timely work of the Riverside County LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition, and how to take action at voteforchoice.org/studentsafetycoalition.

Learn more about the In Community series at voteforchoice.org/incommunity.

Action Fund Forum

On February 3, 2024, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest hosted an Action Fund Training & Forum in-person in San Diego.

The Training & Forum was scheduled in response to the ongoing attacks against reproductive rights and access to abortion, and was an opportunity for community members to come together and take a stand against any and all acts of injustice.

Topics included the principles of participating in civic engagement, understanding the reproductive health care landscape in California, and how to advocate for reproductive rights and related issue areas at the local, state, and federal levels including information about federal and local updates, protecting LGBTQ+ youth, info on the Project for Sanitation Justice and more.  The training also covered plans for the 2024 general election and how to stay involved. 

You can view a recap from our training here. Visit voteforchoice.org/takeaction to find out ways to get involved with our work, and to stay in the know on future trainings and forums.

We’ve Launched a Book Club!

In February 2024, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest launched a book club. The first book selection was Birthing Liberation: How Reproductive Justice Can Set Us Free by Black, Queer, Full Spectrum Doula and author Sabia Wade. In April they will be reading and discussing Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun. 

We are thrilled to welcome all people to our book club space – gatherings take place in-person and online.

Of the book club, PPAFPSW Organizer in San Diego, Kat says:

“The book club idea came to me when I was tabling at the North County LGBTQ+ Resource Center’s Youth Leadership Summit in December of 2023 with a brand new PPPSW volunteer. We were sat next to the youth services librarian for the Oceanside Public Library. Shout out to all librarians everywhere! I have always wanted to be a part of a book club, but social anxiety has always stopped me from joining a random one and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to create my own. So, I spoke to the volunteer about it first and they were really excited. I decided to be bold and ask the librarian what it would look like to have a book club. 

I wanted to have a truly community-focused book club, so I spoke to a local librarian and asked for her recommendations as well as logistics for holding a book club in a library. I asked volunteers interested in a book club for local bookstore recommendations and sent that out to everyone with the idea that if we all buy these books, after we are done reading them, we can donate them to the local library to make sure reproductive justice books are in circulation for others. 

We loosely utilize About Our Club as a place to vote on our next book club reading selection and the times of meetings. We are reading books focused on reproductive justice and other forms of social justice, as decided on by the group. 

We read Birthing Liberation: How Reproductive Justice Can Set Us Free by The Black Doula Sabia Wade as our first book club selection and a nod to Black history month as the club started in February. We then voted and have just begun reading Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun. 

We encourage everyone to bring their thoughts, questions, and comments about the book or even the topic, and to participate even if they haven’t read the entire section of the book.”

Email [email protected] to learn more and join today!

Parent Advocacy Teach-In Webinar with Riverside LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition

On March 20th, the LGBTQ+ Riverside County Student Safety Coalition successfully held their first Teach-In webinar, geared towards parents and guardians. Presenters included Samuel Turley of Equality California, Dr. Jon Paul Higgins of Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance, Megan Garcia of Our Schools East Valley, and Lalo Moreno of Expanding Identities Development. 

The Teach-In reviewed the history of Parental Notification policies (PNP) in California, how PNP endangers students, and the current landscape for School Boards in Riverside County. After this background, presenters taught attendees how to get involved in their own School Boards, from reading agendas to crafting an effective public comment. A follow up email directed attendees to the coalition website, further resources, and answers to each question asked during the webinar.

A recap of the webinar is available here, using the password &EPyj8k#.

Community Listening Sessions

The LGBTQ+ Student Safety Coalition is excited to host a community listening session in Western Riverside County. This listening session will be a safe space for community members to come together and hear from students, teachers, parents, and activists that have been directly impacted by the harmful wave of anti-LGBTQ+ policies made at the local school board level.  

The listening session will take place on Tuesday, May 7th at 5pm. This free event will be open to people of all ages and there will be food provided. Please RSVP for the community listening session at bit.ly/listeningsessionriverside.


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