There’s an app for that

After the University of Tennessee’s sex week had it’s funds slashed and reputation condemned, students decided to take matters into their own… phones? Hookup, an app created by students and dedicated to providing accurate sexual education, gives students and young adults instant answers for their sex-related questions. While striving for a “cool, older-cousin vibe”, the sexperts answering these questions are volunteer experts and Planned Parenthood educators located in the area. In addition to the anonymous “Ask a Sexpert” feature of the app, a “Share Your Story” section allows users to post anonymous stories.

Obviously an app cannot replace sex ed being taught in schools, but it can promote healthy and honest conversations about sex and the circulation of accurate information. Changing public policy to ensure that comprehensive sex ed is taught in all states is going to take awhile (*cough* Trump *cough*), so temporary solutions, like Hookup, are necessary to ensure young people are receiving accurate information.

Keep up the great work kids.


Even seniors need sex…and sex. ed.!

Older people kissing

Despite what you may think, if you’ve ever thought about it at all, senior citizens do indeed have sex. While sex in the media is usually tied to younger folks, we would be very naive to believe that older people don’t enjoy sex as much as younger people. They weren’t always your grandparents!

Senior sex  itself is not a problem. It can boost their mood, and even their health. All the obvious benefits of having sex- improved self esteem, relationship satisfaction, relaxation-seniors can get all of that too. Unfortunately, while seniors reap all the benefits of having sex and people half their age, they also reap some of the consequences of having an improper sexual education.  As many senior women have completed menopause and can no longer get pregnant and have children, many seniors having sex forego condoms because they view them as a pregnancy prevention method. Condoms do help prevent pregnancy, but they also guard against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Because they don’t use protection, from 2010-2014, cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia in people aged 65 and above have increased by 90%, 65%, and 52%, respectively.

Condom Graphic
Condom use is lowest among people aged 61+; condom use decreases with age (National Sex Study)

Sex is not just for young people, and safe sex is not just about preventing teen pregnancy. Anyone who has sex could be at risk of contracting an STD. Seniors today may be less aware because this wasn’t widely talked about when they were in school, but we can change that for future generations by teaching them about what safe sex really means.

Don’t Dump the Funding, Trump!

In recent years, comprehensive sexual health programs have seen an increase in federal funding with about $176 million dollars spent in 2016; whereas, abstinence-only programs receive about half of that amount at $85 million dollars, also spent in 2016. Sexual educators can thank Former President Barack Obama for this allocation of funding, but the Obama Administration is something of the past with new laws and regulations coming about. The future of sexual education programs is now in the hands of the new and unpredictable administration of the United States of America.

trump-thumbs-down-800President Donald Trump and the Republican Party agree that the goal of sexual education programs is to reduce teen pregnancy, which has already been seeing a decline in the past few years alone. Unfortunately, they do not believe comprehensive sexual education is the reason for this lowering statistic. Instead, they believe the decline in teen pregnancy is due to restricting access to abortions and also the upbringing of more abstinence-only programs. These programs teach children that a faithful, married relationship is the only expected standard of sexual behavior and are extremely judgmental to any other type of sexual behavior that is outside the realm of marriage. Not only is this seen as naive in today’s society, but they are also against the use of contraceptives, even though they claim they would like to see a continuous decrease in teenage pregnancy, which contraceptives indeed help with. The underlying religious aspect of these programs prevents children from learning the full scope of what it means to be sexually active and performing healthy sexual behaviors.

abstinence-only-education-288x300Abstinence-only programs are not the answer to the problem of teen pregnancy. These programs try to induce a certain aspect of fear towards teenagers who may or may not be sexually active, which may work on some children, but the lack of “real-world” education puts these children at a disadvantage and at risk. Teens are exposed to many sexual behaviors through social media, their peers, and through subliminal messages each and every day. Without the proper education to prevent diseases from spreading and knowing of various alternative methods to prevent pregnancy, these kids are more likely to harm themselves and others. Most teens graduate high school and enter college without a formal sexual education from public school systems, other than experience. Instead of taking away funding from comprehensive sexual education programs, President Donald Trump should consider the implications behind teaching children that abstinence is the only way to be safe, which could have more backlash than anticipated.

SLANGuage: How socialized language affects our sex ed.


When I first started dating my boyfriend, my good friend innocently tried to come up with a couple name for us, à la “Kimye” and “Brangelina” (r.i.p.). My name is Liz, and his name starts with a J. To everyone else’s humor, and to her own genuine confusion, her best idea was “Jiz.” This incident just became another on a list one can reference as proof How To Draw Squidward (6)that my friend never went to middle school ( it was never really a drawing of Squidward). To be perfectly frank, I didn’t know “jiz” was semen until high school. My high school years are peppered with memories of my goonish guy friends insisting that in a class of teenage boys, these are things I have to know, and and that by the end of high school they’d have corrupted me. But I reminisce all this to ask: why do people come up with alternate terms anyway? According to a timeline of sexual slang, compiled by Jonathan Green, people have been using sexual slang since 1888, when “jism” was used to refer to semen.

According to Timothy Jay’s book, Why We Curse: A Neuro-psycho-social Theory of Speech, researchers in 1979 asked subjects to write the word they use or learned for various genitalia and sexual acts in different contexts. Parent context “produced the most restricted range of terms” in 1979, and again in 1982 when the study was replicated. Parents are most likely to speak in euphemisms and to avoid using “sexual words,” impressing upon children that these words have a lot of power. Until they begin to learn slang from their peers, these words and topics remain taboo. The study shows that people use separate lexicons depending on the social setting or listeners. Jay’s four systems of sexual language could technically all be used to describe the same thing, but herein lies the problem: the sex ed. we learn in school is only tied to the medical-scientific lexicon. Sex ed. in most schools is largely anatomical. It’s about organs, and microscopic processes, disease and protocol. It fails to address the cognitive, emotional aspects of sex, as well as our other understandings or sex.  Sex ed. as it is now, is merely a chapter of anatomy class. It only serves to drive a wedge between parts of a whole, and not without consequences. Separating the feelings of sex from the science can lead to disassociation between them. The social implication that sex is taboo leaves many people to figure it out on their  But what are the consequences?

3.-KissingAt the risk of being too candid, I offer up my own realizations. My only form of sexual education was through school. My parents never had the talk with me. I understood sex at a basic procedural level. I never connected the dots or understood that the same procedures, specifically an erection, could happen without actually having intercourse. When I became aware of this fact through real life, I was horrified, because I’m planning to wait for marriage to have sex. Until it was explained to me that erections can happen often for guys, especially in the close company of their girlfriends and even at random, I was in a state. My lack of knowledge and disassociation between process and emotion left me unprepared, which in turn caused me shock, horror, and even shame, anger, and fear that I had done something against my values. For someone else, it could be an actual breaking or their values, an STD, or an unplanned pregnancy.

I have to say my classmates failed. There’s still a lot that I’m clueless about. And our separate contexts for different terms don’t bring us any closer.  Rectifying this issue may ask us to take a flying leap out of our comfort zones. The gap in understanding isn’t necessarily caused by the fact that schools use medical-scientific terms. It may feel uncomfortable or too “formal” to say “vagina”, so use “pussy.” Too rigid to say “penis”, so say “dick.” (See what I did there?). And should you need to talk about semen, you may find it more casual and less obvious to say “jiz.”Our task is to tie these different language sets together so that we understand what we’re addressing no matter what words are used to communicate it, so that we can be prepared for sex (horizontal exercise, hot beef injection, bit-of-that-there, mattress polo, pudding…whatever you want to to call it), and everything that comes with it.

Can you pass this sex-ed quiz?

When students can’t rely on their classes to teach them the critical information they need to know about their bodies, they are likely to seek that information from other sources. The issue with this is that many of these sources are unreliable and can lead to further misconceptions about sex and relationships. A lot of times students use their friends or porn to teach them critical information about sexual activity and, in case you were not aware, these sources can be extremely inaccurate!

Basic sexual knowledge should not be something only some students receive, yet it unfortunately is. Limited information can be very detrimental to students, especially in high school and college, when many students are expanding their sexual experiences.

So, see for yourself – take this basic sex-ed quiz to see how much you know. (I’ll admit, I got quite a few wrong.)

Image result for sex ed meme

Leave it to the Parents! A Refutation

As the discussion of mandating comprehensive sex education programming in public high schools rises and falls from the political spotlight the same arguments resurface. One of which proposes that the responsibility of teaching sex education to children and teens falls on the parents, thus, allowing for more particular control of the content provided. This argument is often paired with the belief that the government should stay out of structuring curriculums around a topic as broad and individualized as sex. However, it’s shown that methods such as this are rather ineffective and non-comprehensive.m f symbols on bks

The debate is a heated one, as exemplified by an Omaha Public Schools meeting where the discussion of updating the three-decade-old sex education curriculum resulted in a brawl between parents, some arguing against the change with the belief that, “parents should lead the private discussion of sexual expression.” This argument, however, does not guarantee that every child’s right to education about their own bodies and sexual safety would be met. It is more common now that the responsibility is shared between not only parents, but also health workers, teachers, and schools. This system works more effectively to provide coverage of a broader range of topics, as the student is provided education regarding a variety of perspectives, and avoids the pitfalls of abstinence-only sex ed.

The reality is also that the majority of parents and young people in America support the implementation of these comprehensive programs. So, while authors at ‘The Blaze’ and other more conservative individual’s argue that it is the duty of parents, the truth is that most parents don’t want to have that responsibility and young people don’t want to hear their parents version of ‘the talk’.

The bigger problem, however, is that parents (as great as they think they might be) may not provide comprehensive, all-covering sex education. Parents are more likely pass on beliefs that they hold to be true, many of which lean more on the side of opinion rather than fact. However, evidence shows that children provided with quality sex education through school are not more likely to become sexually active or increase sexual activity, contract STD’s or face adverse health effects. Teens with comprehensive sex education were also 50 percent less likely to become pregnant.

While it is important that parents start a dialogue with their children about sex and it’s various possible consequences it is crucial that public schools and government programs provide a standard that means every child receives the accurate knowledge to give them the basic need that is understanding their own body, their own sexuality, sexual health, the nature of consent, and basic biology.

Comprehensive Sex Ed is a Human Right

It’s no surprise that students have questions about sex. What is a surprise, however, is how few of their questions are being answered in school. Young people have a right to receive accurate and comprehensive information about their bodies, relationships, and sex, yet only 22 states mandate that sex education be taught.

While comprehensive sexual education includes teaching students medically accurate information about contraceptives, pregnancy, and STIs, it also addresses issues affecting the overall well-being of young people. How to communicate needs, develop healthy relationships, and make responsible decisions regarding sexuality are all topics covered in comprehensive sex education and are topics that students, regardless of which state they live in, should know.

There is no denying that sexuality can be a very influential aspect of our lives. When we withhold information about sexuality from students, we are directly impacting their right to make informed decisions about their own bodies. Guaranteeing young people understand how influential sexuality can be on their lives and how to navigate such sexuality is a moral thing to do.

While there have definitely been advancements in the call for comprehensive sex ed, many schools are still teaching ideologically driven information that threatens student’s fundamental right to receive accurate information regarding sexual health. In fact, over 80% of abstinence Image result for comprehensive sex edonly curriculum was found to contain false or distorted information about reproductive health. Specifically, many courses were found teaching false information about the risk of abortion and effectiveness of contraception, while promoting gender stereotypes and religious belief as scientific fact. Additionally, these programs rarely include information regarding LGBTQ sexual health, therefore excluding specific students from receiving the information they need. Comprehensive sex ed does not focus on abstinence as a moral compass and does not use a student’s sexual activity as an indicator of what type of person they are, it promotes sexual health in a way that doesn’t shame the students, simply educates them. 

With only certain states requiring sex education and even fewer requiring that information be medically accurate, the quality of education students are receiving about their own well-being varies depending on where they live. Knowledge regarding the overall well-being of young people should not be limited to the students who happen to live in areas that teach comprehensive sex education. Having no sex ed programs or programs that leave students unprepared is unethical. All people, young people especially, should have the right to accurate, honest, and comprehensive sexual education so that they can make informed decisions about their health.

Sexual health and feeling in control of one’s own sexual decisions is a right I believe all students are entitled to. Withholding information about contraception and using scare tactics to persuade students to abstain from sex is a shameful infringement on this right.