From leading initiatives on comprehensive sex education, to organizing their peers to protect reproductive freedom, young people are at the heart of Planned Parenthood’s work. Selam is a high school student, a Planned Parenthood intern, and a volunteer with Generation Action (a.k.a Gen Action), a country-wide network of young people who are advocating for sexual and reproductive health. We asked Selam some questions about her involvement with Planned Parenthood, and why it’s important for her to join the fight for sexual and reproductive health.
Astrological Sign: Virgo (the best one)
Hobbies: Going to the lake, trying new foods, traveling
Favorite Snack: Any sour candy
How did you become involved with Planned Parenthood?
A friend of mine started a club at my high school with Gen Action and I joined. It started as a way to support my friend and get free food, but after a couple of meetings, I was in love. The friend who started the club was encouraged to do so after she interned with Planned Parenthood. The next year, her sister and I took over the club, which is how I got to know Planned Parenthood.
Why is it important for you to advocate for sexual and reproductive health care?
It is important for me to advocate because as a woman of color our opinions can often be overlooked in these areas. Additionally, many people who are BIPOC can benefit from the improvement of sexual and reproductive health care.
What does your work with Planned Parenthood look like?
This past summer, interning with Planned Parenthood Action Fund has included many things. We started off the summer hearing from many key speakers about how to organize around an issue you are passionate about. Currently, we have been working on more individual projects and phone banking to help raise awareness of the clinic in Rochester and the challenge to Roe v. Wade. During the school year, I have an executive role in a high school club that is partnered with Gen Action Fund. This role requires more time looking for topics surrounding sexual and reproductive health to bring to members of the club. We spend time on topics like the comprehensive sex ed bill as well as lobbying.
What are you most proud of accomplishing in your work with Planned Parenthood?
The thing I am most proud of is helping students at my school learn more about sexual and reproductive health care. A specific moment that comes to mind is having Claire from Planned Parenthood, who is a certified sex educator, meet with members of our club. Claire talked about anything and everything relating to sexual and reproductive health care. She was so amazing we asked her to come back again!
What role do you think young people have in fighting for reproductive freedom and health equity?
Young people have a tremendous role in fighting for reproductive freedom and health equity. Put simply, we are the future and I think within the last couple of years the entire world has been able to see a glimpse of the power we hold. From going out and voting this last election season to forcing school policy to change due to discrimination. These systems that we are trying to change have been in place for decades, but somehow young people have committed to fighting back and it shows. I can only imagine how things will look once we are all able to unite.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to get involved in advocating for sexual and reproductive health care?
It can be intimidating and you may feel as if you don’t know enough to be able to get involved, but your experiences account for more than you think. Here at Planned Parenthood, everyone has been super kind and willing to help you grow both as a person and in advocacy. It can also help to find a friend who also wants to get involved.
Ways to get involved:
- Learn more about Gen Action online
- Volunteer with Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund
- Sign up for our email list