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Cornell's chapter of Planned Parenthood continues to advocate for reproductive rights.

March 12, 2021

Cornell Planned Parenthood Generation Action Develops Sex Ed Program

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From developing a sex education curriculum to distributing condoms across campus, Cornell’s chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action continues to educate the University community and advocate for reproductive justice.

Affiliated with both the national nonprofit organization and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, PPGA shares much of the same legislative agenda as the national movement. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s website lays out the organization’s 17-item agenda, including increased access to abortion services and contraception, comprehensive sex education and safe access to reproductive health care facilities, among other initiatives. 

While members of PPGA attend many nationally-organized events, like Day of Action held this past Tuesday, most of the club’s activities are focused on advocating for reproductive justice on the campus level. 

This semester, the club is focusing its efforts on developing a comprehensive sex education program to be delivered within the Cornell community. Co-president Helena Brittain ’22 said PPGA plans to offer sex education presentations to students and other organizations across campus starting next semester. 

Brittain and her co-president Samantha Heller ’23 said they found that experiences in sex education varied widely even among the group’s own members, which prompted discussions within the club about creating a campus sex education program. 

The club soon found that New York State doesn’t currently have any mandate for sex education in schools, according to Brittain. Members also found that sex education programs in other states encourage schools to frame students with LGBTQ+ identities in a negative light.

These realizations, according to Heller, were the impetus for creating a sex education curriculum, one of PPGA’s biggest initiatives this academic year. 

“There’s a lot of topics that people don’t know so much about, and we thought that having sex ed for PPGA would fill a need in the community,” Heller said. 

In fall 2019, former PPGA co-presidents Maggie Shatz ’21 and Shayla Parthasarathy ’21 divided the club’s members into five subcommittees — STIs, contraceptives, pleasure, inclusion and consent — and assigned each group to conduct research on a category. 

Now, equipped with a database of information collected by members, both Brittain and Heller are working with the health educator at Ithaca Planned Parenthood to get the information reviewed, critiqued and ready to be distributed. 

“The plan moving forward this semester and going into the fall is to take all of [the information] and format it into presentations we can give to other students and organizations,” Brittain said. The organization also hopes to create social media content for the sex education campaign to reach a wider audience.

While developing the sex education program has spanned multiple semesters, PPGA has continued to launch smaller projects throughout the year and plans to collaborate with other student organizations on campus later this semester.

Earlier this spring, PPGA received 500 condoms through Trojan Brand’s Condom Collective, a youth-led grassroots movement that makes condoms available to college students to make  contraception a right for all. 

In the past, PPGA would have met to assemble condom goodie bags that would then be distributed across campus, according to Brittain. But because of the virus, the club created a Google form and spread it across social media where students could request condoms, dental dams and internal condoms.

The Google Form received around 55 responses, and PPGA distributed all 500 condoms within two weeks by driving around to deliver them directly to students. 

“It was great that people wanted [condoms] and that we could provide them,” Brittain said. “I was honestly very surprised by how much demand there was.”

Correction, March 12, 7:06 p.m.: A previous version of this article misstated the names of the PPGA co-presidents who started the sex education initiative. This post has since been updated.