Sexuality was taught to and discussed with every student in the fifth grade and then again in health class in high school. It is also taught here at Stephens. The official name for the class is Human Sexuality and is taught by psychology professor Chris Lawrence, also a teacher in the Masters Educational and Counseling Psychology program. It is an elective course and is only taught every three years.
Lawrence wants her students to take in as much as they can from the class. She wants students to come away at the end of the semester with the ability to feel some sort of ownership of their sexuality and have the ability and confidence to communicate openly and honestly with all future partners about what they want and need in terms of a sexual relationship. Humans are sexual beings by nature and Lawrence wants her students to not be afraid of it.
Being comfortable with sexuality on the inside is one thing, but talking about sex lives with twenty-something other girls is another. Lawrence said that each student started the semester at a different place discussing sexuality openly. She hopes students will become more comfortable with the subject.
“Based on the lively discussions we have had, I would say that their comfort level is increasing,” Lawrence said.
The class is more than just discussion. Students have to complete several assignments and write about them in detail. The first assignment given at the beginning of the semester was for each girl to go to their room and touch themselves to explore what engages them sexually. Some students were all for it, while others were timid and felt it was unnecessary to write about such an intimate subject.
“I did not complete the assignment,” Emily Mendoza, sophomore, said. “I just felt that my beliefs were being violated and I felt extremely uncomfortable.”
There were less invasive assignments, however. Students had to complete three experimental learning tasks and write a paper describing the experience. Some examples of the experimental learning missions were visiting a sex shop, attending a drag show, exploring options for pregnant teens and exploring the impact of dating a same gender individual in public.
Sexuality is something that everyone has to come to terms with.