Youth Show OUT, a new-this-year student voting initiative launched by Feminist Majority Foundation, Advocates For Youth, and Planned Parenthood this summer was in full swing for the elections. But even now, the work being done on the reproductive justice movement is not over.
As a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, I found a local group on campus dedicated to reproductive justice, education advocacy and awareness around issues such as sexual, mental, and emotional health. This group is the Sexual Health Advisory Group and they work with Planned Parenthood. I sat down with the co-chairs of SHAG, Amanda Nicole Alarcon and Kayla Fry to talk about the work SHAG has been doing.
When I asked about their current activities in advocacy of reproductive justice Alarcon replied, “Currently we are working on the Vote No on 1 Campaign in the state of Tennessee.”
They also are hosting letter writing parties, writing to press, and phone banking.
“We are hosting a large voter registration drive and phone banking in conjunction with PSA, which is a progressive student alliance at UTK and the college democrats on University of Tennessee’s campus” said Fry. SHAG also plans on hosting an after party for the registration drive to get even more people involved in the cause. With around 15 dedicated members and more joining every event, SHAG has an opportunity to educate students and the community about reproductive justice.
While not all states have ballot measures like Amendment One, there are students on campuses around the US who are working toward reproductive justice. At the University of Minnesota, the University Pro-Choice Coalition varies their projects based on the current political issues and member’s interests. Currently they are working with the 1 in 3 Campaign, organized by Advocates For Youth, who works to destigmatize abortion by sharing stories and creating conversations. Zoey T. Cobb, the leader of UPCC, said, “This year we will be doing stuff around the election, as well as the upcoming CHEER Act, which would require Minnesota employers to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives in their insurance plans.” UPCC also escorts patients at a clinic on Saturday mornings, raises awareness about crisis pregnancy centers on campus, and is currently seeking even more opportunities to volunteer.
Another campus group in the fight for reproductive justice is Students United for Reproductive Justice at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. SURJ works in the community to fight for women’s rights, unrestricted birth control access, and partnering with Planned Parenthood and other organizations to form the Nevada Teen Health and Safety Coalition. Vice President of SURJ, Lexi Bradford, described SURJ’s mission as “all people, regardless of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic background, can be seen as not only equal, but also trusted and educated by their government to make informed decisions about their own bodies pertaining to their health and safety.”
And they are moving in the right direction. This coalition is pushing for comprehensive sex education in the state of Nevada and SURJ has lobbied in both Carson City and Washington D.C. for this cause. They have also held phone banks to inform the community of candidate’s stances on reproductive justice issues.
Just because election season is winding down doesn’t mean reproductive justice issues should take a backseat! There are countless ways to get involved, either with these organizations, those on your own campus, or maybe even a group you start on your own! Check out Youth Show OUT’s coalition organizations (Advocates for Youth, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, and of course, Feminist Campus!), or find more information about starting up a group of your own!