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Sextravaganzas and Other Campus Sex Workshops

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February 11, 2013

Last month, fellow Choice Correspondent Amanda and I attended Creating Change: The National Conference on LGBT Equality.  I may be biased, but Choice USA’s workshops really seemed to start some productive and practical conversations about how to help make our communities more sex positive.  One of Choice USA’s workshops, “Sex (Education) is a RIGHT!,”  facilitated by Sarah Audelo from Advocates for Youth, our own Mari Schimmer and myself, centered around young people’s right to sex and comprehensive and positive sex education, as well as student organizing.  The audience was asked to split up into groups and come up with a creative way to promote sex positivity in their hometowns.

This yielded some really great ideas, but one in particular stuck with me.  An undergrad student from Indiana shared that his university puts on an annual party/workshop to educate students on sex in a fun way, make contraceptives available and promote healthy sexuality – snacks and party favors were provided.  This concept seemed novel to many, so as someone who has been privileged for three years with a college that does its own version of this, I would like to share this idea in hopes that you will borrow and adjust it for your own school or community. 

At Agnes Scott College, we usually have two workshops like these per year – Queer Safe Sex Workshop and Sextravaganza.  As you probably guessed by the titles, one of these workshops is geared toward individuals who identify as queer whereas the other is intended to be more general (but still very queer accessible).  They both follow a similar model:

 

  • Safe space/fun environment
  • Refreshments (it really does make a huge difference)
  • Free contraception (of different kinds)
  • Free stuff (whether it’s a raffle or party favors)
  • (Guest) speaker who is entertaining and informative
  • Q&A
  • Sensitivity to audience

 

To explain further, I will use Agnes Scott’s Sextravaganza as an example.  Student Advocates For Educating Women (SAFE Women), a student-run campus organization that strives to educate women about health issues, plan and organize this event.  Sextravaganza is always held in a large, highly decorated meeting room.  The tables are stocked with snacks and contraception – latex and non-latex condoms and dental dams for giveaway, as well as diaphragms, IUDs, and implants for display.  At every seat there is a raffle ticket.  What do we raffle, you may ask?  If your ticket number is called, you walk up to a long table and pick from a selection of lubes, sex toys, sex games, dildos, harnesses, ect. – items that (can) make (consensual) sex more fun.  Needless to say, that part of the workshop is always a smash hit.  Finding the right speaker can be the trickiest part, depending on where you live.  In Atlanta, it’s a piece of cake, but finding someone to not only education about sex but also effectively communicate that sexuality is healthy and good can pose challenges in certain parts of the country.  My advice is to screen (screen screen) and to communicate very clearly who your target audience is.  Speaking of, making sure you know your audience is key.  At Agnes, in recent years, the material covered in these workshops has targeted WSW (women seeking women), WSM (women seeking men) and trans men.  Sextravaganzas have been successful for so long largely due to the members of SAFE Women engaging the campus community and providing information and contraceptives that are relevant to the students attending.

Although Sextravaganza takes place in an undergraduate setting, with the funds and support, hybrids of this workshop could be effective in high school and community settings.  If you’ve done a workshop like this in your community, please share it with us!

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