Evangelina Zubia, 16, lives in Lubbock, Texas and volunteers with Jane’s Due Process. In May of 2021, Lubbock passed an ordinance banning abortion in the city. But Evangelina tells us not to make too many assumptions about the folks in this South Plains community. We asked her about what it’s like to be such an outspoken advocate for reproductive rights at school and that time she passed out condoms at prom.
Q1. What inspired you to sign up to volunteer for an abortion fund like JDP as a 16 year old activist?
As a female in Lubbock Texas (especially being a young teenager) I watched helplessly as my home became a sanctuary city. Accessing affordable birth control and contraceptives as a minor felt like an unspoken crime. I was raised with a strong understanding of the struggles that tail teen pregnancy and as soon as I knew what sex was, I knew It came with boundaries and protection. After talking to a handful of friends I began to realize that not everyone is as equipped. This wasn’t their fault. We all live different lives. Prior to knowing about JDP I’d experienced helping a peer collect change for a $50 Plan B. We were too young to have paying jobs, yet we were in this position where parenthood could now be on the table. I thought to myself, If only someone had given her information about safe sex maybe she wouldn’t be in this situation. I wanted to tell all the girls around me about things that they should’ve been taught, I just didn’t know how yet. That was until I came across a JDP post on Instagram about free emergency contraceptives. I was a bit shocked, and I needed to know more. After researching JDP and learning about the many services offered to teens I knew I wanted to become a part of this community. So I asked my mother if she knew about anything like JDP and she became interested as well. With her help I was able to connect with women from JDP and together we began delivering reproductive kits for Jane’s Due Process.
Q2. Lubbock is known for being a conservative and anti-abortion community. What’s your experience been like giving out repro kits and educating your peers about how TX teens can get an abortion in your community?
Many people consider Lubbock, Texas a strong anti-abortion community, but I’ve found that much of this comes from lack of information. Having knowledge is power. After becoming a volunteer for JDP I began telling my peers about all JDP offers. As a women raised by a teen mother, I am aware of precautions that can be taken to prevent teen pregnancy, but quickly found that some of my peers had little to no concept of what safe sex meant. I was appalled and knew that I held information that could be a necessity for high school teenagers. I began sticking JDP stickers around the girls restrooms in my high school. Surprisingly the only backlash I received was from my fellow peers who would attempt to take the stickers down. I countered their efforts by sticking brand new stickers up the next day! Despite that, I received tons of support from others. It felt like I’d opened a door to start the conversation about safe sex in my school! I began getting texts from girls all over Lubbock, asking me questions about what plan b does and how they can access safe abortions now that Lubbock had become a sanctuary city. It’s been so empowering being able to offer information that has the power to change someone’s life.
Q3. Last year for prom, you gave out repro kits to your classmates. Can you tell us how that went and what feedback you received from your teachers and fellow classmates while giving them out? What tips would you give to other young people who want to give out repro kits for prom or school dances?
As my senior prom approached, I knew that a lot of my fellow classmates would be taking part in after parties and everything else that comes along with the celebration. I also knew that sometimes my classmates, myself included, make mistakes – and I didn’t want any of us to end up with a mistake that could cost us the futures we were planning. So in an effort to keep everyone safe and promote safe sex practices, I decided to put together goody bags that consisted of condoms I got donated from my local Planned Parenthood, the JDP hotline number, and some confetti for fun. I ended up having over 200 goodie bags with over 500 condoms, and had zero by the end of the night. I recall the moment I walked into the prom after party and screamed “CONDOMS!”I was terrified, but I continued to remind myself that what I was doing could help so many people in the long run. A few weird looks and stares was totally worth the amount of people I reached that night! The feedback I received was all positive from students and one teacher secretly told my mom she was proud of me. The one tip I would give to anyone wanting to do anything like this is to be confident in your mission. Have the confidence to speak to anyone and everyone, start conversations and connect with others, and this will help develop your ability to read the people around you and know where and how to spread information!
Q4. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a youth organizer?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a youth organizer has been to surround yourself with like-minded people! I remember feeling so helpless when Lubbock became a sanctuary city and even more devastated when Roe v Wade was overturned. Having a community of women who support and are just as passionate about women’s rights as me has helped fuel my fire. I feel empowered when I know I’ve surrounded myself with those who understand the issues that need to be fixed and help me along the way!
Q5. What would you like to do next as you continue your organizing around reproductive rights in Texas?
This coming fall I’m going to be a student at Texas Tech University here in Lubbock. I plan to join every woman’s rights group on campus and hopefully start a club of my own at some point. I envision connecting with the high schools in my area and possibly recruiting volunteers for JDP. I want to target minors specifically in high school, because I have seen first-hand the detriments that come from lack of information. I plan to inform and teach the importance of unity between women. I plan to provide clean sanitary products for women. I plan to inform women of their rights and how they are being threatened by our legislators. I plan to fight for reproductive rights in Texas in many different ways. My next step is unknown but I can guarantee that this isn’t my last.