The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Miami University professor Richelle Frabotta, one of the only three sexuality educators in the state of Ohio and a professor in the department of family science and social work (FSW), is looking to make sex education mandatory for Miami University sophomores.
Frabotta has redesigned her FSW 365: Family Life Sexuality Education Across Cultures class to be specific to the health and interpersonal issues she has seen among students throughout her ten years at Miami.
This would mean students on this campus would receive a comprehensive sexual health education and have access to a professional about their questions on sex, as opposed to turning to Google.
Our staff could not be more thrilled.
We hope that Miami will make the class mandatory for sophomores, as we believe the university has a responsibility to provide students a comprehensive education that creates a culture of communication around sex and prioritizes students’ physical and emotional health.
Sex education in this country is, quite frankly, a mess.
In Ohio alone, the sex ed. curriculum is designed by each individual school district, meaning a student’s knowledge around their sexual health can vary depending on their zip code. Additionally, there is no law ensuring the curriculum has to be medically accurate.
The sex ed. received by students on our own editorial staff ranges from in-depth contraception-based education to abstinence-only curriculum to none at all.
And, regardless of how in-depth our high school education was, our staff agreed that sexual health topics specific to LGBTQ relationships were almost entirely excluded from every curriculum.
There are only nine states that require sex education curriculums be inclusive of LGBTQ topics. Six states prohibit LGBTQ identities from being mentioned, or require they only be discussed negatively.
That’s abhorrent. But Miami has a real opportunity to change students’ perceptions of these issues and so much more by providing the education many students have lacked until arriving on campus.
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Being comfortable and confident with one’s sexual identity is a huge component of sexual health. To continute to push heteronormative sex education curriculum is a disservice to an entire group of individuals who deserve an informed and healthy sex life.
Right now, the efforts to educate students on sexual health happening outside of the classroom don’t include much material on LGBTQ relationships and identities. Then again, the existing efforts hardly address any material at all. Student groups that do try to promote sexual health on campus usually do so through game nights hosted in residence hall basements, where the information is trivialized and made to be more of a joke than a learning opportunity.
But at least they’re doing something.
Miami needs to grow up, and stop treating sex like a taboo that needs to be tucked away and forgotten.
Students have a right to a comprehensive education on how to prevent, recognize and treat STDs. We have booths all over campus for flu vaccinations — easily accessible and widely publicized by the university. We should have that same kind of access to STD testing and preventative methods on campus.
Consent and boundaries are topics far more complex than anything that could be covered in an online module or cute video shown during orientation. But creating an environment where students are able to learn about the nuances of consent and ensure they understand the many ways someone could coerce them will help create a more respectful, more aware student body.
It’s important to realize how heavily sexuality ties into honesty and power.
Frabotta wants to address these topics in her class in hopes that will help curb the instances of sexual assault and sexual violence on Miami’s campus.
We hope the administration feels the same way. Eventually, Frabotta’s class should be listed as part of the university’s Miami Plan to ensure that as many people as possible are receiving a comprehensive sexual education.
We just hope Miami will not be deterred by the geriatric argument that sex education promotes promiscuous sex. Not talking about sex doesn’t mean people stop having it. It just means that they’re not informed about how to have it responsibly.
It’s important Miami be realistic in recognizing that students are going to have sex, so we should do what we can to empower students to make responsible choices around it.
Sexual health is health, and we hope that Miami will take this opportunity to treat it as such.