March 21, 2018

TO: President Tony Frank

FROM: Zinta Byrne on behalf of the President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity

SUBJECT: Recommendation for Task Force on University Sexuality Education for Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice

Recommendation

We recommend the university convene a Task Force on University Sexuality Education for Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice to investigate, develop and implement short-, mid-, and long-term opportunities for providing the entire campus community – students, staff, and faculty – with educational resources and skills development related to sexuality, inclusion, equity, and social justice.  We envision the following goals for such an education program:

  • Align existing resources, courses, programs, campaigns, and research, with the University’s mission to improve the campus culture and climate around gender.  By providing resources for personal wellbeing, professional development, academic programs, and access for support and services, we envision this will contribute to making CSU the best place for women to work and learn.
  • Share and build upon campus resources, information, offices, programs, and research to promote greater understanding and university-wide implementation of inclusive practices related to sexuality.
  • Educate on issues on diversity and inclusion, including but not limited to trans identities, ability, queerness, bodies, cultural background, non-heteronormative practices, and pleasure gaps.
  • Educate on issues of sexual assault, interpersonal violence, coercion, “bad sex,” boundary setting, consent, and navigating hook-up culture.
  • Build skills of good communication, respect and caring relationships, taking care of self and others, and practicing equitable and inclusive practices in one’s own life and relationships.

Further elaboration on the recommendation, including possible Task Force members and a tentative charge and mission for the Task Force, is included in the Appendix.

Background

The predominant mode of formal education around sexuality in the U.S. takes the form of sex education, and yet only 24 states require high school sex education, with the requirements for content varying among those states.  Further, 88% of schools offering sex education allow for parental exemption.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that high school students receive education on 16 components of sexual health, inclusive of pregnancy and disease prevention topics frequently required in sex education programs, but also addressing relationships, communication, peer support, and other critical aspects of sexual activity.  However, fewer than half of high schools address all 16 topics in sexual education programs, and even the CDC’s recommendations lack explicit language around inclusivity of social identities.  As far as inclusion and equity is concerned, a staggering 94% of LGBT students report that sex education programs largely excluded positive representation of LGBT topics.

With respect to sexuality education, the content of which expands beyond heterosexual reproductive and sexual health, other relevant topics include consent, power, pleasure, and inclusive representation of a variety of gender and sexual identities and practices.  These are largely missing from high school sex education programs, which means most people do not have formal or easy access to a more broad form of sexuality education that elucidates how such issues are salient aspects of all our daily lives (even if their salience is due to their absence in our experiences).

The pleasure gap (i.e. disparity of sexual pleasure and satisfaction) among heterosexual women and men is a notable example of how even the most personal aspects of our lives reflect historical social and political inequities.  Furthermore, the intersections of race, culture, gender expression, ability, and class provide profound opportunities for dominant narratives about gender, sex, sexuality, and pleasure to negatively impact the lives and wellbeing of all people and the health of their interpersonal relationships.

Finally, the tenor of cultural discourse around sexuality has shifted with the recent rise of the #MeToo movement, in which behavior in need of redress can range from the worst types of abuse, harassment, sexual assault, violation, and rape to the “grey areas” of bad sex, poor communication, and the normalization of coercive gender norms for people of all genders.  A new trend on campuses seeks to address these issues as part of a culture that promotes sexual health in order to reduce the threat and reality of sexual violence.  Centering attention on the culture of sexual politics for freedom and equity has long been a cornerstone of feminist work, and the #MeToo movement reminds us that the time is up to reframe sexuality in our culture.

These statistics and topics present a variable landscape of sexuality education, in which some students receive no formal sex education whatsoever, and the majority of the rest receive only the most basic education on reproductive and sexual health.  As a university, we can do more to educate our campus community on sexuality and how to approach healthy, respectful equitable, and safe relationships in ways that address a range of problematic social and cultural realities to improve the lives of our CSU community.

Promotes the Mission and Goal of the Commission

There are many ways in which the university currently addresses issues that may affect the personal lives of its students and staff, understanding that happy and healthy students and staff, learn, and work better.  We also know that women and trans/gender non-conforming individuals disproportionately experience sexual violence and incur physical and emotional harm when people uncritically accept and adopt dominate sexual norms.  We believe that a comprehensive sexuality education program, which may develop in a number of possible ways as determined by the Task Force, will lower risks of harm for all people, and enhance our connections to each other, resulting in a more open, healthy, and safe campus community.

Attachment 1:

Select Relevant Campus Organizations and Resources to Engage:

  • Women and Gender Collaborative
  • Women and Gender Advocacy Center
    • Red Whistle Brigade
    • Men in the Movement
    • Consent Carnival
  • CSU Health Network
    • CREWS (Creating Respect and Educating Wellness For and By Students) Peer Educators
    • Transgender Health Team
  • PRIDE Resource Center
  • Student Groups (not mentioned under other organizations):
    • Students United for Reproductive Justice
    • Coming Out Group – Sexuality
    • SOGLBT
  • Office of Support and Safety Assessment
  • CSUPD
  • Residence Life

Note All admitted students are required to complete the Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault Program, which educates students on issues associated with stalking, relationship violence, and sexual assault.

Sample List of Relevant Academic Courses Currently Offered

  • ANTH 333 Anthropology of Sex and Reproduction
  • EDUC 5761 Issues in Educ: Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • ETST 300 Queer Studies and Women of Color
  • PSY 328 Psychology of Human Sexuality
  • PSY 437 Psychology of Gender
  • PSY 677 Psychology of Women, Men, and Gender
  • HDFS 302 Marriage and Family Relationships
  • HDFS 402 Couple and Family Studies
  • SCO 333 Gender and Society
  • SOC 334 Sociology of Intersectionality
  • WMST 270 Contemporary Feminist Theories
Attachment 2:

Recommended Campus Units to be represented on Task Force:

  • Women & Gender Collaborative
  • Women & Gender Advocacy Center
  • Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research
  • Health Network
  • PRIDE Resource Center
  • CREWS student representatives
  • Two additional Faculty members with pertinent research agendas
  • Title IX coordinator
  • Residence Life Coordinator for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Orientation & Transition Programs
  • Dean/Provost’s Office
  • Grad student rep (optional)
Attachment 3:

Proposed Mission and Charge of the Task Force

Mission: To research, develop, and implement a long term, comprehensive approach towards educating the CSU campus about sexuality – including but not limited to personal, interpersonal, emotional, psychological, biological, physiological, cultural, and political factors – that coordinate current and future programming, research, and resources across the University.

Charge:

  • Form Task Force by May 2018
  • Develop scoping plan, inclusive of short-, mid-, and long-term goals
  • Offer a public (all campus) panel on the overall concept
  • Pilot a short-term program, such as a workshop, expo, or seminar series by the end of Spring Semester 2019
  • Report progress to Director of the Women & Gender Collaborative
Attachment 4:

Attachment 4