Last Thursday, PRISM and Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) hosted an event to educate students on the “sex ed” they missed in high school.
The talk took place in Olin Auditorium and covered topics ranging from birth control methods to safe kink practices. It was attended by approximately 25 students and featured a presentation given by members of both clubs, followed by a question and answer session. Cookies and sexual health products like condoms and lubricant were available after the presentation concluded.
PPGA co-president and junior Kaitlynne Jensen said that the concept for the event came from work she did at an internship with Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI) during the summer of 2020.
“A lot of people are coming in to college with different levels of knowledge surrounding sex and different levels of comfort talking about it too. [Students] are also being put into a setting where they have a lot of freedom to explore,” Jensen said. “If we’re going into situations like this without more knowledge on how to explore safely and to find resources at college, then it can create an unsafe environment. Lots of myths and taboos come in with college students so it’s also important to really get at those.”
Jensen approached leadership of the LGBTQIA+ affinity club PRISM to begin putting the event together. She added that she wanted to include PRISM leaders to ensure queer sexual health was covered correctly in the event, as it is a topic that is often left out of high school sex education curriculums.
She and PPGA co-president Zoe Morris prepared the first half of the presentation on birth control methods while PRISM members Sammy Fitts and Emma Evans presented during the second half of the event. Fitts discussed misconceptions around LGBTQIA+ sex and the process of hormonal transition while Evans presented on how to engage in kinks safely.
PRISM president and sophomore Kaleo Toguchi-Tani said that Whitman students come from all over the United States and the world where they receive varying levels of sex education during high school. Toguchi-Tani attended a charter school in Hawaii and said their health class did not cover topics beyond anatomy and birth control options.
“This presentation was definitely needed, albeit a little bit late,” they said.
Toguchi-Tani added that learning about queer sex can be helpful for straight people to break through taboos.
“It is very stigmatized in the media about what queer sex is. I feel like even if you’re straight, learning about queer sex helps destigmatize it,” Toguchi-Tani said. “It helps round out everything and helps people realize that sex is good for everybody.”
First year and PPGA member Piper Danis said that she thought it was important for students to expand their understanding of sexual health when they get to college. She added that she thought the information in the presentation should be added to first year orientation in addition to the session on consent.
“If we had something like this but for a huge group of people, I feel like that would be more beneficial than just a surface level talk about consent because this has a lot of valuable information,” Danis said.
Jensen said that they planned to make the slides available to the student body through the students listserv in the days following the event. She noted that a lot of information on sexual health included in the presentation can be found on the Planned Parenthood website.
Toguchi-Tani said that LGBTQIA+ students interested in joining PRISM can join the club through the group’s Presence page. Those interested in PPGA can also learn more through Presence.