Each month, we feature a stand-out program sponsored by a college or university women’s/gender equity center. If you’d like to highlight your program for consideration, you can submit more information about it online!
Today, we’re highlighting Got Sex?, an annual program sponsored by the University of Idaho-Moscow Women’s Center. Want more information about this program? Contact Lysa Salsbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Program
Got Sex? is a campus forum to promote discussion around issues of sexuality, reproductive health, birth control, social pressures, sexual practices, and risky behaviors. We all need to be able to engage in open, honest discussion with each other, our partners, and our health care providers about our reproductive systems and sexual health, in order to challenge myths, get accurate information, and make healthy choices for ourselves and our bodies. Got Sex? aims to provide a safe and comfortable venue where we can share medically-accurate and non-judgmental information and start a series of conversations to improve our sexual care and health.
Our goals are:
» To create and support open and respectful interpersonal dialogues on touchy topics in a space where everyone can feel safe to ask questions and speak their mind.
» To join in exploration and myth-busting of what constitutes “normal,” and discover ways to do this comfortably, productively, and effectively.
» To allow for provocative, mind-opening, inclusive conversation about our sexual and reproductive health.
Our Learning Outcomes:
After attending Got Sex?, participants will be able to:
» Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the diversity of sexual health “norms,” both physiological and social; understand that “normal” is unique to each person.
» Develop the personal security, courage, and skills needed to challenge social taboos about sexuality-related issues for personal health and well-being.
How This Program Makes an Impact
Several years ago, in 2010, the University of Idaho ranked at the very bottom (140th out of 140) of the Trojan Condoms Sexual Health Report Card for accessibility of sexual health resources and information available to students. At the same time, we realized that many first-year students coming from rural areas in the state with school districts that provided abstinence-only sex ed had concerning gaps in their knowledge regarding sex and sexuality. So a group of us on campus devised a monthly program to provide students with access to group discussion on basic sexual health and practices, as well as provide opportunities for broader discussion of so-called “fringe” topics.
The program is held every month in the Women’s Center lounge and the setting is cozy, comfortable, and informal. We set the furniture up in an inviting and inclusive semi-circle, and provide snacks. We invite a guest speaker to present for 15-20 minutes on a given topic, and then we open the discussion to students. Students can ask questions directly, or anonymously through feedback cards and PollEverywhere. We do everything we can to ensure a safe space, including setting ground rules at the beginning of each program, and having a victim advocate present.
We host capacity crowds at every program (between 40-50 people). Students are very responsive and eager to learn about the topics we discuss, and several faculty members who teach sexuality and health-related classes offer extra credit for students to attend. In post-program evaluations, students report an increase in knowledge regarding sex and sexuality, and a decrease in associated shame, stigma, and discomfort. Students report feeling more comfortable coming into the Women’s Center to get free condoms or referrals, and more comfortable having direct conversations with intimate partners and health care providers.
Also, we are now ranked 73rd on the Trojan Condoms Sexual Health Report Card, up from 140th five years ago. 🙂