By Sarina Trangle
Planned Parenthood has made its foray into Queens with help from South Asian Youth Action, Sunnyside Community Services and Queens Library.
Planned Parenthood of New York City organized a Feb. 7 ceremony to commend the three nonprofits on their collaborative effort to train staff on handling questions about sexual and reproductive health.
Leaders of Planned Parenthood announced at the event in CUNY Law School that they plan to partner with more Queens organizations in an effort to reach more residents of the one borough where they do not operate a health facility.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) echoed Planned Parenthood executives’ descriptions of Queens as a borough plagued by barriers to sexual health care.
“We need Planned Parenthood here, on the ground, in Queens, in our libraries and doing the great work that they’re doing,” said Van Bramer.
Queens has the highest rate of uninsured women, many that face cultural and linguistic barriers to accessing care and high rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, according to Planned Parenthood.
Over the past year, SAYA, a secular organization that assists South Asian youth; Sunnyside Community Services, a settlement house that serves people of all ages; and the Queens Library worked with Planned Parenthood to create policies guiding how staff should respond to inquiries about sex and reproduction.
About 110 employees from the three nonprofits then attended training sessions on topics ranging from sexually transmitted infections to body image issues. They also toured Planned Parenthood’s health centers to get a sense of how they functioned.
The organizations made tool kits with brochures, posters and other educational materials, which help maintain organizational standards amid staff turnover and encourage sex-related questions, said Randa Dean, Planned Parenthood’s director of adult and professional programs.
“It’s acknowledging that that’s a normal and expected question,” Dean said.
Dean praised the library for printing thousands of brochures referring patrons to organizations that deal with various sexual and reproductive health matters. She singled out the Far Rockaway branch for working to alleviate a shortage of free birth control in the area.
“They worked with local businesses to get them to agree to put out a bowl of free condoms in their nail salon or their sneaker store,” Dean said.
Dean commended Sunnyside Community Services for bringing youth to tour Planned Parenthood’s health center in Manhattan during a teen night and SAYA for hiring a part-time employee dedicated to helping youth with sexual and reproductive concerns.
Udai Tambar, executive director of SAYA, said Planned Parenthood helped his team feel more confident fielding questions about sex. He said many South Asian families don’t allow their children to date, but young adults still engage in sexual or romantic relationships and need a trusted adult to turn to with questions.
“Families trust us because we do the basics, the bread and butter, free SAT, college guidance,” he said. “Our staff might be just trained in doing the academic work or the leadership development or empowering them, then all of a sudden they are getting bombarded with these other issues.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.