Though Pride month celebrations continue to look different for another year due to pandemic restrictions, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund’s 2021 Pride Conversation Series was an all-out success. More than just presentations and lectures, the virtual series engaged the community in various issues facing the LGBTQ+ community. The series was a collaboration with Out Rochester.
Topics for each weekly conversation included inclusive sex education, LGBTQ+ health care and reproductive care, and a fun evening of LGBTQ+ trivia. Each week also featured guest speakers such as James Darville from OutFront MN, Madison Kelly from Out Rochester, and Vicki VanDeCreek, Community Education & Engagement Regional Manager at Planned Parenthood North Central States.
The final event of the series was a panel discussing LGBTQ+ reproductive care, with panelists Claire Cummins, Community Education Program Manager; Jessica Voss, LGBTQ+ Care Coordinator; and Dr. Chandra Shenoy, MD from the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Clinic at Mayo Clinic. The panelists spoke from their varied experiences to give a comprehensive overview of LGBTQ+ reproductive care; what it looks like, the challenges and barriers faced by the community, and what is being done to make the field more accessible.
Here are a few key points that we can take away from this series:
- Education is important. Education can look like a lot of things—comprehensive, inclusive sex education in schools; ongoing diversity training for medical professionals; accessible research about LGBTQ+-specific health concerns, to name a few. Inclusive, comprehensive, and appropriate sex education should be available to everyone, including information regarding intersex bodies and struggles, lesser-known queer identities, and LGBTQ+ history.
- Intersectionality is key. For every issue the LGBTQ+ community faces, those with other marginalized identities experience harsher discrimination. QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color), disabled LGBTQ+ people, and those from other groups that have been historically left out must be a part of the conversation moving forward.
- The fight isn’t over. The challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community didn’t end when gay marriage was legalized. There are still plenty of boundaries to cross, and a lot of work to be done. Discrimination and bias in medical spaces still occurs. Many LGBTQ+ people are unable to access the medical care they need, because of fear of discrimination, lack of access, or overwhelming costs –this is especially true for transgender individuals, and doubly so for QTBIPOC and disabled LGBTQ+ people. Thankfully, there are people fighting for progress. Organizations like Out Rochester and OutFront MN, just to name a few, are doing important work to bring resources to LGBTQ+ people and challenge discrimination and lack of education.