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Missed The PP Generation Action Event? We’ve Got You Covered.

“We spend too much time shaming others for not knowing things we just learned three months ago.”

Keynote speaker of the Cal Poly Planned Parenthood Generation Action Conference, Loretta Ross, addressed guests this past weekend, discussing the conflict that occurs amongst well-intended individuals as the pressure to be more socially conscious than others builds. The room bursts out into uproar and applause, as it does during every few sentences of Ross’s speech. Ross, an activist, author, and co-founder of the term “reproductive justice”, commands the room with a lighthearted and warm touch- discussing serious issues while leaving just the right amount of time for comedic relief.

“For me, abstinence is just a theory, I’ve never abstained from anything I truly wanted in my life.” The room lights up again, as laughter and mumbles of positive affirmation towards Ross carry throughout. As discussion topics move across the board; from immigration to representation, to the intersectionality of sexual and reproductive rights; the attention of the audience is focused and engaged. As Ross concludes her hour of discussion and Q&A, Cal Poly Planned Parenthood Generation Action president, Gina Welisch, stands up to announce that the PPGA Conference will now move onto separate panels and workshops in smaller rooms, allowing attendees to build the experience that they want. Amidst pink balloons, glitter, and plenty of free muffins & orange juice, the crowd seems upbeat and enthusiastic, with praise of Loretta Ross still bouncing across the room. I surveyed the first panel options, choosing to move to a nearby building and attend a panel on “Revolutionizing Sex Ed”, while friends and peers head off to discussions on “Incarceration and Barriers to Access” or “I.C.E. and deportation: a Reproductive Rights Issue”.

The rooms are small and personal, each with 30 or so participants. I set foot into the classroom hosting the panel of my choice and was greeted with a wide variety of free stickers and pins promoting safe sex and inclusivity. As I took my seat, the panelists began their discussion of the rules for the room. This is a common practice amongst the various panels, as the panelists make it clear to the group before beginning that this is a space for safety, inclusivity, and respect. The energy in the room is positive and warm, with strangers shaking each other’s hands and diving right into sharing their own personal experiences with the discrepancies between sexual education and actual sex. In just a mere fifty minutes, we covered a vast range of issues; from consent to BDSM, to abstinence-only education. I leave the room with a great sense of respect for my peers, a result of the panel’s open and friendly encouragement of self-disclosure.

The conference hosted two more panel time slots, covering issues like “Queering Reproductive Justice”, “Black Maternal Healthy”, and “The Era of Kavanaugh and #MeToo”. Each panel offers its participants a safe and comfortable space to develop their understandings around social and reproductive issues, and the knowledgeable panelists all facilitated an environment that allowed participants to ask questions and engage in a thoughtful & interpersonal way. As the conference came to a close around 3:00 pm, my peers and I left feeling enthusiastic and ready to engage with social issues at a deeper level. The Planned Parenthood Generation Action Conference was a huge success; one that allowed Cal Poly students and members of the greater San Luis Obispo community to build upon each others’ knowledge and move forward to a place of acceptance and activism.

For more information on Cal Poly’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action, how to get involved and upcoming events, click here!

Paden McNiff

Cal Poly '20

Third year Cal Poly psychology student. I love working with Her Campus because it gives me a community and support group of strong, independent women to learn from and grow with.
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