Planned Parenthood’s Tips on How to ‘Feel Safe’ from Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Relatives at Thanksgiving

George Marks/Retrofile/Getty

Planned Parenthood is coming to the aid of those who may need a “safe space” at the Thanksgiving dinner table, surrounded by family members who may not be politically correct enough for them.

“Visiting family for Thanksgiving can be challenging,” Planned Parenthood observes in its Tumblr post titled “Thanksgiving: How to Deal with Difficult People.”

“Your dinner companions may say hurtful, offensive things about race, gender identity, sexual harassment and assault, birth control coverage, abortion, or any number of topics — which can feel stressful, isolating, or enraging,” the abortion provider adds, extending four tips on how to “feel safe” if you are planning to be around other people for the holiday.

First, Planned Parenthood says you can engage in “self care” by making decisions that allow you to “feel safe,” including the options of “not going home at all, going home with a friend or partner by your side, or only visiting for dinner.”

Second, the group recommends developing allies among “family members who love and respect you.”

“The more people in your family who can call people out … on their problematic behavior, the less acceptable it will be,” Planned Parenthood asserts.

When the subject of birth control comes up at the Thanksgiving table, Planned Parenthood offers these suggestions – but only if you “feel safe”:

If you feel safe doing so, start with a mutual value (like freedom, respect, or love). For example, if someone says they don’t think businesses should have to cover birth control, ask why from a place of curiosity. Maybe they think business owners are people who should be free to make decisions based on their religion. You can agree that people should be free to make decisions based on their beliefs — whether you’re a CEO or an employee, you should have the ability to make your own personal health care decisions. So you explain (calmly) how that mutual value informs your stance. Practice asking questions, finding a value in their sentiment you can agree on, and starting from there. This is hard work, but you only get better at it if you keep trying.

Finally, if you have arrived at the pumpkin pie and can no longer contain yourself due to the racist, sexist, homophobic conversation during dinner, Planned Parenthood suggests it’s time to get down to serious business:

Take a stand: It’s totally ok to tell someone that their language or behavior is hurtful and unacceptable to you. Tell them about the impact it has on you and why, and what the consequences of their actions are to the larger community. Tell them you expect better, and what the consequences are if they don’t change (like cutting off contact with them or leaving). And you’re allowed to end the conversation, leave the room, and set whatever boundaries you need to feel safe.

If these tips aren’t enough to get you through Thanksgiving dinner, Planned Parenthood recommends some “great resources,” such as Rewire’s “How to Talk to Your Family About Abortion During the Holidays,” “Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Thanksgiving Toolkit” – which is especially recommended for “white people,” and Buzzfeed’s “15 Tips for Surviving Election Talk Over the Holidays.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.