Birds and the Bees and the Penguins

“My high school home economics teacher told our class that AIDS was a punishment to gays from God,” said Erin Staples, a Clark health and physical education professor, reflecting on her public sex education in Texas in the late ‘80s.

According to the CDC, nearly 10 million STD cases are contracted each year by people aged 15 to 24. The CDC further reports that almost 100,000 people aged 13 to 24 contracted HIV in 2013, and that gay and bisexual men accounted for 72 percent of youth HIV contractions in 2010.

She says that sex education has definitely improved, but that double standards, shame and bad information still exist, especially around young women and LGBTQ youth.

According to the CDC, approximately 273,000 babies were born to teen girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2013.

“There needs to be standardization,” Staples said. “There is tons of research about how comprehensive sex education lowers the risk of pregnancy and disease. There needs to at least be a minimum of what is taught in schools so that information isn’t so varied.”

Staples, who also teaches women’s health, said it’s important for people, especially young girls, to ask questions and use available resources.

She said many young girls experience a double standard when they are taught they should be pure and chaste while boys are taught it’s normal to desire sex.

“Girls talk to me about getting prizes for signing chastity pledges,” Staples said.

She said this creates shame and girls are reluctant to seek help or information on their sexual health and desires.

Staples, like many others, found her information from sources like Planned Parenthood.

There are many available resources on campus and many students find classes that discuss sexual health helpful.

“Community colleges are definitely more inclusive and broadly scoped,” Staples said, referring to sex education in the human sexuality and women’s health classes.

She said sex education for LGBTQ youth is lacking and they often face prejudice when they should be met with understanding, acceptance and empathy, however.

Students can find information at the Counseling and Health Center in the Health Sciences building, which also provides free comprehensive STD testing, condoms and lubricant.

“The Counseling and Health Center is a great resource here on campus, especially for LGBTQ students.” Staples said. Students can walk in or make an appointment by calling (360) 992-2614.

The Diversity Center, located in Gaiser Hall, is another resource for LGBTQ students at Clark. It works closely with the Queer Penguins Alliance, a safe and respectful group for LGBTQ and all students.

In addition to the aforementioned resources, Staples recommended Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit organization that provides more broad information and covers LGBTQ sexual health.

Students can also look to Guttmacher, a sex education organization that provides data and research; the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, which advocates for the right for individuals to make informed choices on their sexual health and provides comprehensive sex education information; and Planned Parenthood, which has a Vancouver location on Mill Plain Boulevard near Clark College. Open Play Dates Location Day & Time Fee Outdoor

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