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Sociology students outline mandatory sex ed course

Emma+Cozens%2C+senior+criminal+justice+major.+Photo+credit%3A+Sabrina+Grislis
Emma Cozens, senior criminal justice major. Photo credit: Sabrina Grislis

Emma Cozens, senior criminal justice major. Photo credit: Sabrina Grislis

Emma Cozens, senior criminal justice major. Photo credit: Sabrina Grislis


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Why is there hair growing here? Which STIs do condoms protect from? What if I’m not straight?

These questions, and many more, were probably asked at some point during any Chico State student’s lifetime. Whether or not they were answered is what is crucially important.

High school sexual education is meant to prepare teens to practice safe sex and become informed adults. But, for many students, the level of education upon entering college was not sufficient.

Seniors Emma Cozens and Taylor Holmes were among those dissatisfied students. That is why they outlined a college-level sex education course for their Sociology 330 class.

“I chose this subject because I’ve been really dissatisfied with the things I’ve been hearing about Safestart,” Holmes said. “I don’t really think it’s comprehensive education about sexuality, how to practice safe sex, what rape culture is. I think all students should learn more about their bodies, their sexuality, the different types of sex you can be engaging in, how to do it safely, how to communicate effectively about what kinds of sex you want to be engaged in and your gender presentation.”

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Taylor Holmes, senior multicultural and gender studies major. Photo credit: Sabrina Grislis

This idea first started as a consent workshop between Holmes and Cozens, but then quickly grew into a one semester course.

“Eventually we thought, ‘It’s going to take a whole semester to get all this information in here,’” Cozens said. “So, that’s how it turned into a class. It was both of us deciding that we want to teach them, because there is so much to learn.”

The class, just theoretical at this point, is designed to start with an introduction to open-mindedness and discussions about safe sex, then move on to cover things such as sexuality and gender representation. The class then finishes off with self-love and communication assistance.

The subjects and class content would ideally be a collaborative effort between the biology, sociology, psychology and multicultural and gender studies departments and community organizations, they said.

Because colleges can offer a greater degree of diversity to students than their high schools or hometowns might be able to, it is especially important to Cozens and Holmes that incoming students are introduced with these ideas.

“That’s why we want to teach people who are being newly introduced to a college environment. In this pool of diversity there are people of every race you can think of, every gender you can think of, and more, and sexualties you’ve never heard of before,” Cozens said. “We want to teach what they are and how to cope with them. You don’t have to celebrate it, we just want you to be OK with it existing in the same space that you are.”

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Emma Cozens, senior criminal justice major. Photo credit: Sabrina Grislis

Rather than a high school sex education course, where content can vary from state to state and where parents can easily intervene in their child’s education, college campuses offer more possibilities for what courses can be taught, they said.

“I think some of the backlash we would get is that we’re promoting the gay agenda, the feminist, the liberal, the ‘whatever’ agenda,” Holmes said. “We’re promoting science, factual evidence, critical thinking, self-reflection and dialogue.”

Creating a space where students are free to ask questions and talk about their experiences is critically important to Cozens and Holmes.

“We want to inspire a dialogue,” Cozens said. “We want to teach people that it’s OK to talk about subjects that are bothering them. Health, well-being and personal happiness is what it comes down to.”

Ideally, said Cozens and Holmes, this information should not have to be taught. However, the sad truth is that the students who need this information the most are the ones who are not seeking it out.

Sabrina Grislis can be reached at [email protected] or @sabrinagrislis on Twitter.

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Sociology students outline mandatory sex ed course