How One College Is Changing Sexual Education

The state of sexual education in America has recently been a topic of serious debate amongst advocates for sexual health. One college, though, is hoping to change how higher education deals with sex: Northwestern University is offering a sex ed course for its students, specifically for incoming freshman.

The Evanston, Illinois school (and my alma mater!) has said this course — titled "Intro to Reproduction" — is the first class of its kind for higher education. It will be available as of September 28, and will feature a series of online videos about topics such as alcohol's effect on libido, signs of prostate cancer and — perhaps most importantly for a college campus — sexual violence.

“Most students entering college don’t have a good understanding of their own reproductive or sexual health,” Teresa Woodruff, vice chair for research in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a news release. “Having sex is not the same thing as knowing how it all works. And most students have issues beyond sex, like changing menstrual cycle lengths and questions about exercise and testosterone levels. They need to know because it impacts their health. This class fills a huge gap.”

Woodruff, who created the class, also noted that sex ed is "intimately important" to college-aged students. Considering the rising rates of STDs amongst college students, this kind of education definitely seems downright vital in order to improve the sexual health of America's youth.

The implementation of this course is a huge step towards addressing the failing standards of sex education in America, which often focus on abstinence rather than comprehensive education. Ideally, we would have honest and informative sex ed available in all schools, and it would start at a much younger age, so students have the proper tools to make decisions regarding their bodies as early as puberty, rather than trying to "undo" problems like STD and pregnancy rates after the fact.

While this course may be groundbreaking, Northwestern is certainly not the first college to understand the importance of educating students about sexual topics. Here are five other schools whose Sex Weeks offer awesome panels and honest discussions about topics ranging from anal to female orgasm.

1. Yale University

Yale was the first school to come up with Sex Week, and although they faced criticism and backlash at first, the idea has since spread to many more college since its inception in 2002. They definitely started off strong, too — events from the first Sex Week included: "The History of the Vibrator," "The Spiritualization of Sex," and a "Celebrity Panel" of people who've made important contributions to the world of sex and dating.

2. University of Pennsylvania

The first-ever UPenn Sex Week was in 2013, where they hosted workshops such as: "The Female Orgasm," "Reclaiming Pleasure," and "The Ins and Outs of Masturbation." They also had a "sex toy smorgasbord," which 100 percent sounds like something I want to sign up for.

3. Harvard University

The first inaugural Sex Week at Harvard was in March of 2012, putting them a good decade behind their fellow Ivy Leaguers, Yale. However, they lost no time in thinking of creative and sex-positive panels to share with students. From their 2014 Sex Week schedule: "What What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101," "Fifty Shades of False: Kink, Fantasy, and Fetish," and "Love @ First Swipe: Online Hookup Culture."

4. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

UIUC was heavily criticized when one of its residence hall communities brought in porn star Annie Sprinkle — who was famous in the 70s and 80s — to teach seminars about sexual topics. Sprinkle talked about life as a porn star and hosted a screening of "Annie Sprinkle's Amazing World of Orgasm," and there was also a presentation on "Eco-sexology," as well as a free sidewalk sex clinic. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a hella good week to me.

5. University of Tennessee

UT's first Sex Week was in 2013, and featured events such as "How Many Licks Does It Take..." (a class about oral sex, duh), a Golden Condom scavenger hunt, and a drag show. Unfortunately, the school faced serious backlash after conservatives complained about the lascivious nature of Sex Week events, and over $11,000 of funding was sadly cut as a result. Good news though: Advocates for Sex Week did some fundraising, and the school continued hosting the event in following years.

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