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Permanent link for The Planning of Sex Ed Week on February 7, 2022

Jessica Epplett, MPH Candidate at GVSU shares about her MPH practicum project - planning Sex Ed Week at GVSU.

Sexual health is an important topic that is not talked about nearly enough and has been made to feel taboo in our society. Because the topic has been made to feel so taboo, schools are afraid or not allowed to teach all of the elements (or anything besides abstinence-only) of sex ed that should be taught and too many students have gaps in sexual education. These gaps can be dangerous. 

In 2014, a study done by the CDC found that 76% of students were taught that abstinence is the most effective method in preventing pregnancy and STIs and only 35% of students were taught how to use a condom properly. Only receiving this level of education can leave many questions unanswered and can leave people at risk once they decide to start having sex. An article written at Columbia University’s School of Public Health helps to outline this. They have found that abstinence-only education is harmful and does not delay when people start having sex or reduce risk behaviors, like having unprotected sex (Santelli & Berger, 2017).  They have also found that this type of education reinforces gender stereotypes, isn’t always medically accurate, and makes a large number of students feel excluded (Santelli & Berger, 2017). Comprehensive sex ed, on the other hand, shows improvement in contraceptive and condom use, reduced number of sexual partners, lower rates of STIs and pregnancy, and a decrease in sexual risk behaviors (Santelli & Berger, 2017). This is why we planned a Sex Ed Week at GVSU.

Sex Ed Week has been my Master of Public Health practicum project since September, and it’s been exciting to work with a topic I care so much about! I have put in many hours doing research and looking into issues that college students face when it comes to sexual health because it is a topic that I believe is extremely important and needs to be talked about, especially at colleges and universities. Sex isn’t taboo and I am a strong believer in ensuring that everyone should be given all the information they need to take control of their health, including their sexual health. I was fortunate enough to have a sex ed in middle school that was comprehensive, interesting, and didn’t pretend that students weren’t going to have sex, and I’m excited to give students at GVSU a fun, sex-positive sex ed experience, too! This week of events is tailored to the GVSU community and has topics that are important to students and that have been left out in the previous education that many students. This week is a fun way to learn more about sex positivity and be empowered to make the right choices for you! 

We created an exciting variety of event types to make learning more about these topics entertaining and less awkward. I know that it can be hard to discuss some of these topics and feel a little uncomfortable because this could be the first time some are learning these things or maybe they just feel taboo because they aren’t talked about as often as they should be, but our hope is to create a fun, welcoming environment where everyone can feel comfortable asking questions and learn something along the way while we work on normalizing sexual health and giving students the tools they need. Some of the topics that are covered during the week include how to use condoms properly, consent, how to have healthy relationships, LGBTQ+, and many more! 

I encourage everyone to join us for this week of fun and to step out of their comfort zone!

By: Jessica Epplett, MPH Candidate and RecWell Intern

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Page last modified February 7, 2022