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Weber State ‘s Center for Diversity & Unity holds a Taboo Talk to discuss sexual education in Utah. (Photo Illustration by Emily Crooks / The Signpost)

 

Weber State University students gathered together Tuesday afternoon to discuss sex — more specifically, sex in Utah. To start, attendees were asked how many of them received “the sex talk” from their parents. Only two attendees raised their hands.

Taboo Talks, Let’s Talk About Sex: Sexual Education in Utah took place in the Shepherd Union, inviting students and faculty to join the discussion on sexual education curriculum in Utah.

Guest speakers from WSU also attended, discussing the current sexual education policies that Utah has implemented and how they have affected the health of Utahans.

The Taboo Talks tackle topics that some may find uncomfortable, aiming to raise awareness and promote student interaction in an informative and comfortable atmosphere.

Madeline Meyer, the common grounds chair of the Diversity Board, planned this event with hopes that a campus-wide conversation about Utah’s sexual education practices would be sparked.

The topic was picked in part because a portion of WSU’s students have experienced the curriculum first hand.

Utah is unique when compared with sexual education in other states. Meyer’s said by creating this event, they were able to address current sexual education issues, stigmas and guidelines.

“It was a great conversation with students. We were able to crush some common misconceptions about sexual education that are out there,” Meyer explained.

Two guest speakers were also invited to speak as experts on the subject. Sarah Dosier, student leader at WSU’s Women’s Center, and Rochelle Creager, the wellness coordinator at Weber State, educated and engaged the audience through their research and experience with sexual education.

Utah is one of the few states that require abstinence-only sexual education. According to Utah’s Administrative Code implemented in March of this year, Utah educators cannot mention the use of contraceptives, including condoms and the pill; the idea of having sex before marriage; sexual stimulation; or the discussion of homosexuality.

During the discussion, Creager noted to the audience that HIV and gonorrhea are on the rise in Utah.

According to the American Sexual Health Association, there are approximately 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections every year, with one in four teens contracting an STI annually.

Creager noted that the average age of initiation for sex in Utah is 17 and went on to state that by teaching abstinence-only education in schools, students are not getting informed until after their initiation age.

Dosier grew up in Utah, citing her experiences with the sexual education curriculum in high school wasn’t fulfilling.

“There were holes in my education,” Dosier said. “I didn’t get good, comprehensive sexual education until college, and I wish I would have gotten that earlier.”

Hailame Kinikini, the 2016-2017 diversity & unity vice president, attended the event, saying that comprehensive sexual education is important, especially in Utah.

“I wish these events were larger. This is a topic that needs to be talked about, and we need to hear different voices,” Kinikini said.

After the discussion, Dosier said she felt confident that students left with lots of helpful information.

“I think it went positively,” Dosier said of the event. “Topics like these may appear heated, but there are always more facts to the story.”

Dosier also said if anyone has a question regarding their sexual health, WSU’s Women’s Center can provide information and help.

“You can walk in if you’d like. We are always happy to talk to people,” Dosier said.

The Women’s Center also offers one-on-one meetings, as well as various resources for students.

The next Taboo Talk will be held next Tuesday, April 5, in room 232 in the Shepherd Union. The topic will be state-assisted suicide. For those interested, more information can be found at the WSU Taboo Talk’s website.

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