Column: Sexual health needs funding

Come next year, UNC’s sexual health counseling may no longer be funded.

Steven Long, a member of the UNC-system Board of Governors, told The Daily Tar Heel in May that sexual health was not a top priority.

“Sexual health is not one of the top wellness concerns outside of preventing STDs,” he said in the article. “Most of the concerns, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are things such as stress, nutrition, a proper diet — those types of things. The emphasis was not on those higher priority wellness needs. To be generous, calling it sexual health, it was more sex counseling, it was not a wellness program."

Long said student funds should not promote diversity or social advocacy. In a memo, the Board of Governors singled out a Project Dinah event entitled “Orgasm? Yes, Please!” which has interactive sex education skits and includes a raffle for sex toys.

Long’s comments show he is fundamentally out of touch with the issues our students deal with on a daily basis. Sexual health counseling is absolutely necessary for college students — as much as, if not more so, than exercise, stress prevention and a healthy diet.

My high school health textbook had almost no practical sex ed information. It had an abstinence contract, pages and pages on why we should wait and one little box on the failure rates of birth control. At the end of my senior year, I realized few of my friends knew the correct way to put on a condom.

North Carolina’s health education policies make it impossible for us to learn about sex in an honest, healthy way in high school. For many, college is the first time they get real sex education. What the BOG doesn’t understand is that when students have so-called “sex counseling,” they’re learning compassion, trust and communication. They learn how to advocate for themselves and listen to their partners. These are not frivolous skills.

If the board wants to end sexual violence at UNC, they need to understand we can’t end sexual violence without also teaching students about healthy relationships. We can’t end sexual violence without also having conversations about what good sexual relationships look like, what healthy ones look like. Often survivors don’t realize what happened to them was assault because they were never taught about love.

Many of us grew up with “Twilight” as our model of love, learning that obsession and possession are synonymous with love. Seventeen magazine teaches girls that love is all about tricks, deception, ways to hide parts of your body and personality to lure someone in. It’s no wonder we need sex education, lessons on how to love. Long and the BOG need to end attacks on sex education.

Thanks for reading.

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