Sexuality Matters

Course description

Students come to college with varying degrees of knowledge and skills to make healthy sexual decisions. Sexuality Matters takes a sex‐positive and inclusive approach to comprehensive sexuality education.

Course themes

Introduces the concept and dimensions of sexuality. Prepares learners to know and acknowledge their influence and influences, recognize their values, and be comfortable with their sexuality. Affirms that identity exists on multiple spectrums and describes relevant terminology.

  • The role of media, culture, societal norms, policy, school and organizations, faith, community, peers, and family on sexuality
  • Sexuality education in the U.S.
  • Social constructs of sex, gender, attraction, and orientation

Introduces sexual and reproductive anatomy terminology with a pleasure‐based approach using inclusive language. Explains embodiment and its relationship to sexuality. Discusses concepts and statistics related to sex, abstinence, desire, and attraction. Examines societal expectations of sexual activity and its impact on how individuals express their sexuality.

  • Variations in bodies and the process of reproduction
  • Strategies for increasing positive embodiment
  • Common forms of solo and partnered sexual expression
  • Sexual dysfunction and disorders

Explores the value in practicing effective communication related to sex, consent, pleasure, and boundaries. Discusses intimacy and relationships, promoting self‐reflection and communication. Equips learners to examine their own relationships and support their peers.

  • Specific communication models and strategies, as well as active listening
  • The importance of seeking professional support whenever relevant
  • Characteristics of healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships

Outlines testing, treatment, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) across the lifespan. Highlights the importance of communication related to STI status and includes a virtual tour of a sexual health clinic.

  • Bacterial, viral, and parasitic STIs
  • Condoms, dental dams, vaccinations, PrEP, and PEP
  • Communicating safer sex boundaries

Introduces the concept of reproductive life planning and its benefits for all learners. Discusses concepts, facts and figures, and decisions related to pregnancy, parenting, adoption, and abortion from a public health and scientific background. Promotes learners’ reflection on their values.

  • How contraception works to prevent pregnancy
  • Contraceptive methods and common considerations
  • Communicating contraceptive boundaries and reproductive life plans
  • Prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal care and types of providers and settings

Using a trauma‐informed approach, describes sexual assault, affirmative consent, harassment, and stalking. Discusses the choices and steps involved with intervening in problematic situations. Describes advocacy related to sexual health needs, beliefs, and boundaries. Describes and promotes allyship within and across identities and communities.

  • The relationship between substances and sexual assault
  • Prevention and support measures related to sexual assault
  • Specific intervention strategies and possible outcomes
  • Seeking and accessing health resources, practicing self‐care, and identifying and analyzing reliable sources of information
Opening quotes

Comprehensive education that applies to all bodies and sexualities.

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Good information in a judgment and influence-free atmosphere.

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...This course helped me learn that emotional abuse does exist, and that it’s not okay.

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I have gained a stronger desire to stand up for my own and others’ gender, sexual orientation, sexual expression, and sexual identity.

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I have a deeper appreciation for STI testing and pregnancy prevention methods.

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I have definitely become more open in talking about hard topics related to sex and intimacy and have better ways to present this information to partners as well.

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I am much more likely to fully embrace my true self, not just in terms of sexuality. I have already begun working on taking off the mask and being myself, and I’m very happy with the results and enjoy the positive challenge.

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Among Fall 2018 enrolled students in Sexuality Matters at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities who completed their course evaluation, 98% self‐reported increases in awareness of campus services/resources and others’ perspectives related to course topics. In addition, not only did they report increased confidence in applying the information and skills learned in the course, but also actual changes in their behaviors. The degree of change—somewhat, moderately, or very—slightly differed for each of these items.

students’ self-reported increases Fall 2018