Through an immersive learning class, a Ball State professor and nine students are working to spread awareness and education about healthy sex choices in the Muncie community.
The Inclusive Adult Sexuality Education (IASE) class will use inclusive sex education to teach people about safe, pleasurable sex, as well as how to communicate with one’s partner about the subject, said Hailey Ellis, junior psychology major and member of IASE.
Ellis said sex education is usually seen as limited, secretive and taboo and has “made people feel shameful for the things they felt.”
IASE is working to fight this stigma, she said, adding IASE members want to help people grow comfortable within their own sexual feelings and “open new doors” by providing thorough sex education.
Students are typically taught sex education in middle school, said George Gaither, associate professor of psychological science.
In 2018, however, Indiana Senate Bill 65 was passed, stating all students must have written parental consent before learning about human sexuality in school.
Gaither said high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teen pregnancy could be credited to presenting sex education at a young age, especially if schools “suggest that sex should only happen in the context of marriage and no information about actual sexual behavior is ever discussed,” he added in an email response.
Each of the class’ nine members are researching different topics related to sex education, Gaither said, and will present their findings in 30-minute presentations Nov. 23 at a sexual education workshop in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center.
Some presentations will be paired with videos or expert panels. Ellis, for example, said she is presenting on STIs and would like to include people who live with STIs to “personalize” the issue.
Local clinicians, sex shops, therapists and other businesses surrounding sex and health will also have booths set up during the workshop. Ellis said no businesses have yet confirmed their attendance, but students in IASE are also looking into offering free HIV testing as well.
Falisha Lewis, national Pure Romance director and IASE’s community partner, first introduced the idea for the event to Gaither after attending an event called #SexualHealthMatters in Cinncinnati.
Lewis said she worked with Gaither for a number of years prior to IASE’s founding by attending his sexuality classes and sharing her knowledge on sex and relationships. Later on, she felt the need to have a conference in Muncie similar to the one in Cincinnati.
She said she also owns a business created to teach small groups of women about the challenges of a healthy sex life, but it is small scale compared to what an event like this could do for the people of Muncie.
“I think this event is providing a much larger scale for what the parties have to offer,” Lewis said, “in terms of providing a safe place for people to learn, and ask questions and know what their resources are when it comes to sex education in our community.”
Gaither said registration for the event should be available soon. He said he’s hoping to offer gift cards or goody bags for the first people to register.