Students learn about boundaries during sexual health awareness event

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Carl Vincent Carallas / Stafff Photo
Pierce County Aids Foundation Employees Christopher Davis (Left), Hadija Mohamed (Middle) and volunteer Sue Turner provide the student body with basic, but essential safe sex needs, such as contraceptives, lubricant, and free HIV testing.

Pierce College hosted a sex awareness workshop on March 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m in the Fireside Lounge of the Cascade Building. Pierce counselors, Planned Parenthood, CareNet, and Pierce County Aids Foundation came together to inform students and staff on everything about sexual health in a seminar titled “Let's Talk About Sex”.

Planned Parenthood education staff answered questions at a booth. According to their website, Planned Parenthood reaches 1.5 million individuals each year, and 64 percent of those individuals are middle school and high school-aged. Their education departments provide a robust range of programming options.

The event offered helpful sexual health resources like HIV testing, STD testing, pregnancy testing, and other sexual health help resources.

An educational program about consent, The C-Word: Consent, led a Title IV Compliant presentation. The C-Word: Consent is an interactive, educational program brought by the creators of the award-winning shows Mission Improvable and Shot of Reality. The C-Word used a combination of audience interaction, improv exercises, and through research broke down walls and have frank, difficult, and needed conversations about sex.

I knew the dangers of not being careful, but I didn’t know the risk of getting an STI.”

— Jensen Quitugua

The two performers covered a wide range of topics that included effective boundary setting, online behavior, bystander intervention and survivor resources, including sexual assault hotlines and counseling services. The C-Word delivered important prevention techniques and information about how to deal with a number of challenging sexual conversations that come up.

Alex Brady, a Pierce College running start student who attended the seminar on March 11, said the event provided a welcoming environment for him to talk about sexual health. “I was never taught these things about sex in high school.” Alex said. “I’m excited to learn how to take care of myself and make good decisions about my sexual health.”

A big factor in sexual education is consent. According to Alex, in high school, consent is not stressed nor clarified in the education system. “Consent is more of something that my parents taught me,” he said. “At a young age, I was taught that, ‘No means no’. The high school sex ed portion of the class had nothing to do with it.”

Jensen Quitugua, another Pierce College student who attended the seminar shared her personal journey of understanding sexual health. “I got pregnant at a young age,” she said. “I knew the dangers of not being careful, but I didn’t know the risk of getting an STI. I’m glad that I'm finally going to know how to be safe.”

Carl Vincent Carallas / Stafff Photo
Pierce County AIDS Foundation prevention and health coordinator Hadija Mohamed (Right) describes to Pierce College student Jenn Timm (Left) the varieties of condoms available to her. According to PCAF, when practicing safe sex with condoms, it’s best to use water-based lubricants compared to oil-based lubricants, because it is less likely to break.

Sex education is primarily taught to prevent students from future encounters with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies; something that many high school students and even higher ed students can face in their school years, making it an important part of a student's education. Consent, on the other hand, is known throughout high school but isn't talked about with as much importance.

Quitugua is one of many students who also didn't know about consent through sex ed in high school. “I’m glad Pierce had this event,” she said. “Consent is really important and the fact that the college doesn't exclude it from the seminar is essential.”

Becoming more aware of sexual health can improve the safety of students on campus. Below are some helpful sexual health resources to keep students safe.

Helpful Sexual Health Resources:

* Planned Parenthood - Tacoma Health Center offers LGBTQ+ health services, pregnancy testing, STD testing, HIV services and much more at reduced rates.
* The C-Word: Consent, an educational program, states that: “Consent is just as important, or more important as Sexual Education.”
* Pierce County AIDS Foundation provides free AIDS and HIV testing year round.
* CareNet Pregnancy and Family Services of Puget Sound offer free pregnancy healthcare from professionals.
* The National sex health helpline is: 0300-123-7123
* Free condoms are available in the Student Life Office in the Cascade Building.