UW approves funding eligibility for ‘Sex Out Loud’

A student council committee at the University of Wisconsin ruled Thursday that a student group is eligible to request funding for sex education workshops on campus.

The Student Services Finance Committee, which is responsible for allocating roughly $45 million in student fees annually, voted without dissent to renew eligibility for “Sex Out Loud” after the organization addressed concerns that had led the committee to postpone its decision several days earlier, according to The Badger Herald.

Student Council has funded SOL in the past, most recently awarding the group a $98,000 budget for the 2014-2015 school year, but some representatives expressed equivocation when the group sought to renew its eligibility this year, questioning what would happen in the event that a program hosted by SOL attracted too few participants.

SOL Facilitator Rachel McDonald was apparently able to mollify them during the follow-up discussion, saying that in the event of low turnout, events would not be cancelled, but rather rescheduled, with those who had shown up to the original event being given priority for inclusion in the makeup session.

According to its website, SOL is dedicated to offering “sex-positive approaches to sexual health education” that go beyond the traditional scope of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease by encouraging students to “[participate] in sex that makes them feel happy and fulfilled.”

To that end, the group offers counseling and informational resources, and also provides “safer sex supplies” such as condoms, lubricants, sex dams, and gloves through its office on campus.

SOL explains in a blog post that while lubricants “can radically increase pleasure, comfort, and the efficacy of barrier methods, like condoms,” they are “vastly underutilized” due to perceptions that they are not necessary for “normal” sex, or indicate a failure to arouse one’s sexual partner.

Asserting that “wetter is better,” the post goes on to explain the distinctions among various types of lube, and encourages readers to take advantage of the free supplies available from SOL’s office.

Another post offers insights into the type of informational resources SOL provides. After listing “a collection of dirty-talking gaffs [sic]”—by which they most likely did not mean “dirty-talking fishing spears”—the post points out that “some people aren’t immediately turned on by or interested in engaging in dirty talk,” and suggests several “sneaky ways of easing into dirty talk that make it seem like the completely natural part of sex that it can be.”

SOL also provides a variety of sex education programs at dorms, Greek houses, student organization meetings, and student apartments, sending staff to those locations on request.

One self-explanatory offering called “Sex Jeopardy” is a sexual health-themed twist on the television game show featuring categories including “sex positions, kink, oral sex, anal sex, anatomy, STIs, pregnancy, sexual assault, sex toys, [and] LGBTQ sexual health.”

Students who have participated in one of the “four core” programs on safer sex, healthy relationships, pleasure, and advanced pleasure (“a comprehensive discussion of sex toys and sex positions”) can also request a “kink” program, which “includes interactive discussions of scene negotiation and kinky consent as well as demonstrations, including rope-tying and impact play.”

One type of sexual instruction that SOL does not seem to provide, however, is abstinence education. In 2012, then-student Kristin Van Spankeren wrote on the Pro-Life Wisconsin blog of an interaction she had with SOL members who were distributing pamphlets on campus.

When Van Spankeren asked what the group teaches about the choice to abstain from sex, she claims to have been told that SOL does not provide any programs specifically related to abstinence, but that the group does acknowledge it as “an option for a couple” (albeit not an option that SOL advocates).

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