As a part of Campus Pride Month, UNH Alliance gave a presentation on the evening of Wednesday, April 27, regarding the sexual education that traditional high school and middle school curriculums lack around the country.
Alliance is UNH’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) student organization, committed to making Durham a safe, prejudice-free environment for students.
Organizers of Wednesday’s event said they wanted to address issues that should be, but are not currently part of the curricular system. “Sex ed. should take three to five weeks in a typical course-style education,” Diversity Support Coalition (DSC) Alliance representative and dual sociology and justice studies major Evan Smith said. “However, we just barely scratch the surface.”
Alliance financial manager and zoology major Rose Kolb assisted Smith in giving the presentation.
Kolb and Smith used statistics to highlight the poor quality of sexual education provided in U.S. schools.
Smith listed various facts emphasizing how ignorant the system is; for instance, sexual education is legally mandated in only 22 states, including Washington, D.C. He also stated that schools in only 13 states require the education provided to be medically accurate, 18 states explicitly restrict the teaching of LGBTQ+ sexual education and only four states, including Washington, D.C., require sex ed. classes to be LGBTQ+ inclusive.
The presentation consisted of a series of myth debunking. Kolb handled a majority of the subjects that directly pertained to sexual intercourse. Thematically, she was very empowering to women and all other members of the spectrum.
In regard to premarital sex, Kolb said that marriage, and/or sex, is not for everyone. “Government documentation does not moralize a personal decision to have, or not have sex. It’s a choice, not a government mandate,” Kolb said.
Kolb’s stance on virginity is one that hopes to devalue its current connotation. “You do not ‘lose’ anything when you lose your virginity, you are no less of a person,” Kolb said. She supported her argument by describing the struggle of virginity when a girl is supposed to be sexy, without having sex, and to stay abstinent without being labeled a “prude.”
Another key distinction made was the difference between sexual and romantic attraction.
“Sexual attraction is a pull, like to have sex and physical contact, while romantic attraction is more relationship based where sex exists separately from the relationship,” Alliance chair Rory Wilson said. “Sex can be or doesn’t have to be a part of romantic attraction.”
Kolb and Smith didn’t totally write off the current sexual education system, however.
“Sex ed. does succeed in providing an unholy fear of STDs and strongly encourages the use of birth control and contraception,” Smith said. “However, labeling those contraceptives as explicitly male or female is problematic for those who don’t identify with their born gender.”
Kolb and Smith described some of the ways that sexual education can potentially develop into an accepting system that is accurate, fully inclusive, (not just cisgender monogamous), stops dividing individuals into binary gender categories (male or female) and cuts out “abstinence only” rhetoric.