A Healthy Sexuality Resource Fair will be put on at the Commons on Feb. 10 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. The goal is to promote healthy sexuality and education, advocate for safe sex practices, as well as provide information, relevant literature and words of advice.
Kristin Brandner, a nursing major who is participating in the Healthy Sexuality Fair, focused on LGBTQ Sexual Health.
“We feel that it’s important because we want to promote the greatest good for the community by reducing STI transmission and providing education about having a healthy sex life,” said Brandner. “Sex needs to be consensual and between partners who have the same ideas about what is safe.”
Brandner said that the needs of the LGBTQ community extend to making sure that the entire community of Anchorage, and Alaska, is supportive and helpful for all individuals.
“We’ll be passing out LGBTQ brochures on being an ally and being supportive to the community, resources for sexual health testing, free condoms and Planned Parenthood will be there as a resource for people who want to ask questions or seek health treatment from them.”
For Brandner, one goal of putting on the fair is breaking down untrue and dangerous stereotypes and social myths about sex and sexuality in society.
“We went around campus and did an anonymous survey where we asked what students think are barriers to accessing sexual health care, and many people responded that ‘the stigma surrounding sex’ is a barrier. We want people to know that you should be able to be open with your partner. We want to reduce the stigma about talking about sex and fetishes and condoms and it’s important to let those conversations happen to make people feel more comfortable.”
Matthew Brown, a nursing major focusing on men’s sexual health for the fair said that the survey revealed other troubling information of sexual health.
“In our survey we talked about means of birth control, and a lot of people wrote down that they used certain techniques to prevent pregnancy that are not actual forms of prevention. 15-20 percent of respondents reported using the ‘pull-out method’ as a form of birth control. If that doesn’t show a need for intervention, then I don’t know what does.”
Brown emphasized that men have very real sexual health needs and part of sex education is being open and honest about risks and possibilities.
“We’re trying to represent men in sexual health and I think men are more expected to ‘suck it up’ and ‘be strong’ so we’re trying to advocate on their behalf and develop activities to help inform all people about men’s health needs. One of the biggest things that college-aged (18-25) men need to make sure that they check themselves for testicular cancers. 98 percent of cases of testicular cancer can be totally dealt with if they’re taken care of early.”
Cassie Theel, a charge nurse for Women’s Health and certified pediatric nurse at Alaska Regional Hospital emphasized how important sex education and STI testing is for college students in protecting themselves, their sex partners and possible future children.
“It’s definitely important that UAA is putting on the fair. Safe sex doesn’t just affect you, it affects all of your intimate relationships,” said Theel. “If you have sex in college and you’re experimenting and trying new things and you develop an STD, you could pass that on to a child or to someone else. It’s incredibly important to have conversations about safe sex, because it really does have an impact later in life.”
Brown explained that sex a regular part of life and doesn’t need to be taboo or uncomfortable in society. Instead, the important thing is being educated about sexual health.
“Almost everybody has sex. It can be a great uniting thing, it doesn’t have to be this awkward thing. It’s only weird if you make it weird. You might be shocked at some of the things you learn about men’s sexual health. Men really need to come to get the shocking truth.”
The fair will feature informational booths, games and prizes for attending and participating, as well as food and treats. Safe sex is about open communication and willingness to try new things, and the Healthy Sexuality Fair is promoting education and accessible resources.