GVSU students to host sex-education resource fair

Theresa Mueller

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Despite the reality that thousands of college students are sexually active, the topic is not often openly discussed, which can lead to a lack of sexual education among college students. 

To combat miseducation and to advocate for safe sex, students from Grand Valley State University’s LIB 326 course, “Sexuality, Justice and Advocacy,” will be is hosting the Get Sex(Ed) Resource Fair, the university’s first peer-led sex-education resource fair.

The resource fair will be held Monday, Dec. 4, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center, Room 2263. The focus of the event is addressing sexuality as an umbrella term and relating it to the lives of everyone.

Students from LIB 326 have collaborated with Planned Parenthood, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health and The Grand Rapids Red Project to provide advocacy for sexual health and education.  

Additionally, students Sean Foster and Sulan Artz-Iffland are planning the sexuality resource fair as part of their senior capstone project.

Foster, a liberal studies major with an emphasis in youth sexuality development and an LGBTQ studies minor, has fulfilled the role of marketing and organizing details leading up to the resource fair. Artz-Iffland, psychology major and women, gender and sexuality studies minor, will be orchestrating things on the day of the event. 

One factor that might contribute to miseducation about sex is the discomfort individuals have in discussing it.

“There’s a huge taboo on sex, but it has been around as long as humans have been,” Foster said. 

The aim of having a peer-led event is to allow students to feel more comfortable talking about sex. 

“Get Sex(Ed) Resource Fair is just a way to get people to feel comfortable about talking about sex, or if they don’t know a lot about it, they can come and get more information,” Artz-Iffland said.

The resource fair will consist of interactive groups discussing a wide range of topics, including the health benefits of pleasure, the history of sex toys, and the pros and cons of “sexting.” 

“There is always something you can learn about sex,” Foster said. 

Each session will provide information on topics that are relevant to campus.

“We all come from different backgrounds and what we experience on campus,” Foster said. “We come from different social groups and have different experiences, and we have different views.”  

Foster stressed the importance of advocating safe sex practices, as “sex is inherently dangerous.” He related safety precautions of sex to his hobby of rock climbing.

“It’s fun once you do it, but you have to take the safety procedures or else things can go wrong; it can go wrong,” he said.

The discussions will be tailored to college students, as sex education in high school is insufficient due to Michigan education restrictions, according to Foster. 

“There’s things they don’t tell you in high school, like half the class didn’t know how to properly put a condom on,” Foster said. “There’s always something you can learn, and there are benefits from that.”

The discussion of sexuality at the resource fair will be all-inclusive, and it will not restrict the resources or information to binary genders, or restrict individuals based on race, orientation, class or ability.

In addition to the group sessions provided by the students, GVSU professors and representatives from Planned Parenthood, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health and The Grand Rapids Red Project will be there to educate students and answer questions.

Additionally, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health will be offering STI testing.

The fall 2017 semester is the first semester LIB 326 has been offered as a three-credit course, and this is the first attempt of a sexuality-resource fair planned by GVSU students at the university. 

Foster said the event received a lot of support from administrators, and he hopes the success of this resource fair will lead to additional opportunities for educating students about safe and healthy sexuality. 

The event is LIB 100- and 201-approved.