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Sexual Health Promotion and Sexual Violence Prevention

Happy Halloween, y’all! Today’s a day that people all over purposefully engage in situations that make them a little bit uncomfortable, anyone who’s worn a wig as part of a Halloween costume understands this intimately. People may even put themselves intentionally into scary settings today. So, in that way, it’s a perfect time to engage in another situation that makes many folks uncomfortable or scared: conversations about sex, specifically consensual and mutually pleasurable sex.

As people who work in the sexual violence field, whether in response or prevention, we get pretty used to talking about terrible things without blinking. The stories we hear and the things we know would upset many people. Ironically, however, we do not get much practice talking about healthy sex. And so while talking about violence becomes common, what should be considered common (good, mutually pleasurable, healthy sex) stays taboo and uncomfortable. It’s no mystery why many people have a difficult time talking about sex; many of us might not have had opportunities to learn how to talk about sex while growing up.

Yet, if we are working to promote sexual violence prevention, then the reality is we are also working to promote healthy, good sex. Sexual expression and pleasure is one of the most basic human rights; people have the right be able to control how their sex life looks and who is involved in it. Teaching survivors and others that they should have control of their sexual and reproductive lives is empowering. Informing children and youth about their bodies and their sexuality is also paramount in not only preventing sexual violence, but also in promoting a happy and full life.

I had the opportunity to visit Portland earlier this month, where they were hosting a state wide conference on this very topic: Sexual Health Promotion and Sexual Violence Prevention. Although the work has often been separated, it of course makes sense for us to combine efforts as we are two sides of the same coin. Sexual health promotion goes way beyond just pregnancy prevention, STI preventatives, etc. It also includes anything that promotes mutually pleasurable, consensual sex. Below are some helpful resources.

1.) Amaze.org has lots of resources that help to “take the awkward out of sex ed.” This includes videos for girls and boys going through puberty, information about healthy relationships, identity and expression, and more.

2.)It’s All One is a curriculum that weaves together sexuality, gender, HIV, and human rights education.

3.)There is a guidebook on A Trauma Informed Approach for Adolescent Sexual Health.

4.)The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has resources for Safer Sex for Trans Bodies.

5.) Since getting into schools to talk with teens about sex ed. is nearly impossible for most of us, there’s an online space you can direct youth and emerging adults to get incredibly useful information about sexuality and relationships called Scarleteen.

6.) Also, if you are looking to get more information in Minnesota about sexual health promotion, you can join SFLE, Sexuality and Family Life Educators. The meetings are super informative and a great way to network. They take place monthly in the metro area.  

It’s no secret that talking about sex is difficult to do in many situations, however there are always ways to weave in these concepts as you do your work. Let’s help eradicate sexual violence by promoting healthy, consensual sex!

Do you have favorite resources? Are you a fan of Laci Green or other You Tubers? Leave your thoughts in the comments and share the wealth!