The University of Maryland’s SGA’s health and wellness committee will cosponsor a town hall on sexual health to promote contraception usage, explore preventative measures for sexually transmitted diseases and teach the signs of healthy relationships.
This year’s town hall, though, will feature more resources and information for LGBTQ students. Ranging from discussions on birth control to hormone therapy, organizers felt it was necessary to make the event more inclusive following its cancellation last year due to the pandemic.
“This is sort of an attempt to make it more inclusive for students of varying gender identities and sexual orientations,” said Colleen Berk, the outreach coordinator for the committee.
In previous years, the town hall was largely focused on contraception, said Josh Steighner, a computer, mathematical and natural sciences representative.
The virtual event is also cosponsored by Sex Week at Maryland, the American Medical Student Association and the American Medical Women’s Association. The event will take place on April 15, during Sex Week, which will run from April 12 to April 16.
When legislators began planning for the event, they realized how important it was to ensure the discussion topics represented all students.
“We wanted to make sure that we were sort of expanding the purview to make sure that everybody who could, could get a benefit from it,” Steighner said.
The event will consist of several panelists answering prepared questions and, if there is extra time, questions from the audience, Berk said.
The panelists include university officials at the University Health Center, professors, representatives from student organizations such as Sex Week and representatives from Planned Parenthood in Washington, D.C.
Some discussion topics include an explanation of different types of contraception, potential side effects caused by them and how to get contraceptives at this university, said Ashlyn Nikles, the president of Sex Week.
Nikles added that students will also have the opportunity to learn about how to prevent STIs and common symptoms, as well as signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
“Sexual health education is for everyone, no matter your identity,” Nikles said.
In light of focusing on birth control options, for people who identify as queer, organizers are also looking to add a section on hormone therapy, she added.
Sex Week will also hold other events throughout the week to promote learning about sexual health and other topics like sexual assault, meditations and reproductive freedom.
This year’s Sex Week events, particularly the town hall, will focus on more widespread topics regarding sexual health to include all student communities in a more holistic sense, Berk said.
“Everybody should be looking out for their sexual health,” Steighner said. “We want to make sure that we have all the resources and information that we can share to do the best by everybody.”