Breaking the social stigma

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Society is constantly changing. Societal norms are shifting and what could previously be considered taboo and awkward to discuss is now becoming increasingly acceptable amongst the general public. One of these changes is a growing acceptance regarding proper sexual education.

On Monday, Sept. 24, the residents of James and Virginia Cleveland Hall gathered for the annual “Sex in an Envelope” discussion, which involved a slideshow presentation spearheaded by the Health Center. This presentation, paired with interactive activities, taught Hampton University students about the risks of unprotected sex.

However, unlike sexual education lessons students might remember from the past, this presentation was not meant as a scare tactic to intimidate students into remaining abstinent for the remainder of their young lives. It was, in fact, quite the opposite. While admitting that abstinence was one of the guaranteed ways to avoid contracting an STD, the use of a condom was actually promoted and stressed more so than the practice of abstinence during the presentation. This can be considered a drastic change from what used to be the norm.

“You know your body best, so if you believe something is not quite right, it is vital to seek professional advice. “

When dealing with young people, the discussion of sex has always been a bit of a taboo, and to be completely honest, it still often is. Sex ed, or health class, is not easy to teach. It is not a light topic, and can be considered uncomfortable for both the teacher and the student. No one wants to be the one who inadvertently encourages students to have sex. As a result, abstinence was often the go-to strategy. Teachers would inform their students about STDs, but the discussion revolving around sexually transmitted diseases would often be accompanied by reminders that simply not having sex would prevent this from occurring. While true, this was also horrifically unrealistic.

Over the past few years, social movements have highlighted the importance of proper sexual education and the idea of true safety. Teaching abstinence is still a factor in remaining safe from STDs, yet it is no longer the only choice. Some universities are leading the charge to break old social blockades by teaching their students the importance of wearing protection while engaging in sexual acts, as well as treatment methods and what to do if one does contract an STD. Hampton University’s Medical Center even provides free condoms for both men and women as a way of ensuring that everyone who wishes to engage in sexual activity has the option to remain safe while doing so.

Events such as this one are receiving positive feedback from Hamptonians.

Second-year elementary education major Simone Albridge Moore, from Suffield, Connecticut, spoke to the importance of sexual education, saying, “People don’t really realize how prevalent STDs are on college campuses. By showing them photographs of STIs, they realize how serious the topic is and it encourages others to practice abstinence or safe sex.”

Second-year journalism major Chance Thweatt, from Prince George, Virginia, also spoke of the importance of sex ed, saying, “It’s good to bring awareness to topics like this, because there was a time when you weren’t supposed to talk about touchy subjects like sex, and I think that now that we are talking about it, it helps people become more comfortable about learning about safe sex. It’s a part of life.”

Sex is a pretty big aspect to life, but it is important to remain safe. You know your body best, so if you believe something is not quite right, it is vital to seek professional advice.

Websites such as http://www.advocatesforyouth.org and http://www.ohiv.org offer more information on STDs/STIs and also offer hotlines and educational resources. It is time to end the social stigma and give young people the support they need to stay safe and healthy for the rest of their lives.

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