Why Colleges Need To Fund Sexual Health Counseling

Like many (if not most) teens across the country, my high school health textbook had almost no practical sex ed information. It had a abstinence contract, pages and pages on why we should wait and one little box on the failure rates of birth control. At the end of my senior year I realized few of my friends knew the correct way to put on a condom and had to hold a covert workshop during school.

The health education policies in North Carolina, where I'm from, make it impossible for us to learn about sex in an honest, healthy way in high school. For many, college is the first time they get real sex education. And yet, come next year, the University of North Carolina’s sexual health counseling may no longer be funded.

Steven Long, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, UNC's policy-making body, told The Daily Tar Heel (UNC's student newspaper) that “Sexual health is not one of the top wellness concerns outside of preventing STDs...most of the concerns, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are things such as stress, nutrition, a proper diet — those types of things. The emphasis was not on those higher priority wellness needs. To be generous, calling it sexual health, it was more sex counseling, it was not a wellness program.”

Long noted that student funds should not “promote diversity or social advocacy.” In a memo, the Board of Governors singled out a Project Dinah event entitled “Orgasm? Yes, please!” which has interactive sex education skits and includes a raffle for sex toys.

Long’s comments shows that he is fundamentally out of touch with the issues that UNC students face on a day to day basis. Sexual health counseling is absolutely necessary for college students, as much as, if not more so, than exercise, stress, and a healthy diet.

What the Board of Governors doesn’t understand is that when students have so called “sex counseling” they’re learning compassion, trust and communication. They learn how to advocate for themselves and listen to their partners. These are not frivolous skills.

Furthermore, if the UNC Board of Governors, and college campuses across the country generally, want to end campus sexual violence (and I’m assuming that they do) then they need to understand that we can’t end sexual violence without also teaching students about healthy relationships.  We can’t end sexual violence without also having conversations about what good sexual relationships look like, what healthy ones look like. Often survivors don’t realize what happened to them was assault because they were never taught about love. Love isn’t your boyfriend forcing you to keep drinking or threatening to break up with you because you won’t have sex with him.

So many of us grew up with Twilight as our model of the ideal relationship. We learned that obsession and possession are synonymous with love. Magazines aimed at teen girls teach them that love is all about tricks, deception and ways to hide parts of your body and personality to lure in someone. It’s no wonder that we need sex education and lessons on how to love. It's time for the attacks on sex education to end.

A version of this article was originally posted on The Daily Tar Heel

More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Education, Feminism, Media, Violence against women
More articles in WMC FBomb by Tag: Activism and advocacy, News, Sexualized violence, College, Sex education, Sexuality, Film



Alice W
Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.