Meanwhile, researchers warn of link between sexual assault, substance abuse
Contrary to prevailing health recommendations, a “safer sex guide” aimed at freshman college students says it’s “silly” to expect a partner to be sober.
To be “safer,” students are told to “mix fewer substances” and check on the partner if they begin “slurring their words” according to the “LGBTQIA+ Safer Sex Guide.”
Brenna Bernardino, co-chair of the Contraception Task Force at the American Public Health Association, promoted the resource last week on X as students began the fall semester.
Many high school sex ed classes gloss over or ignore safer sex for LGBTQIA folks. @GLSEN and @AdvocatesTweets created a thorough safer sex guide to fill in the gaps for LGBTQIA people going onto campus for the first time: https://t.co/9z5NKHZ4K0 pic.twitter.com/OQBW6Ljb0U
— Brenna Bernardino (@brennabernardin) August 21, 2023
“Many high school sex ed classes gloss over or ignore safer sex for LGBTQIA folks. @GLSEN and @AdvocatesTweets created a thorough safer sex guide to fill in the gaps for LGBTQIA people going onto campus for the first time,” Bernardino wrote.
The progressive LGBTQ groups Advocates for Youth and GLSEN, which wrote the material, advocate for “inclusive” sex education in schools starting at kindergarten.
Among their advice to students is to “get to know your body” by masturbating and self-exploration, or body mapping. In the guide, they also promote sending nude photos to potential partners.
The groups acknowledge their advice to students strays from the norm when it comes to safety, sobriety and consensual sex.
“Most safer sex guides will say that sobriety is a prerequisite to consent,” sex educator Aida Manduley says in the guide book. But Mandulaey said it’s “silly to expect people to not hook up while under the influence of some substance.’”
“Harm reduction” advice includes “mix fewer substances (e.g., keep it to only alcohol instead of alcohol and cocaine)” and “discuss what substances people are currently on or using.”
Partners should also talk about “if this is someone’s first time using a substance or not. If it is, consider delaying or going slower than you would otherwise” and “get familiar with the effects of popular substances so you can better recognize if someone else may be on or using them.”
However, these “safer sex” recommendations come as researchers continue to warn of the connection between sexual assault and substance abuse.
Heather Kettrey, associate professor of sociology at Clemson University, and Martie Thompson, professor of public health at Appalachian State University, wrote about the problem last week at The Conversation.
“People who misuse alcohol or drugs, or who are tolerant of violence, are more likely to sexually assault someone,” Kettrey and Thompson wrote.
Sexual violence increases a student’s risk of “numerous adverse outcomes, including poor academic performance, post-traumatic stress disorder, repeated sexual assault and suicidal thoughts,” they continued.
Citing a 2019 study, the professors said approximately one in five women are victims of sexual assault in college.
Additionally, “women and nonbinary students, those whose gender may not align with their sex assigned at birth, were four times as likely to experience sexual assault as men,” they continued.
In their own research, published in April in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Kettrey and Thompson concluded that federally-mandated campus sexual assault prevention programs appear to have had little effect on the problem.
“Most research on campus sexual assault prevention addresses factors that lie at the individual level, such as by targeting individual students’ drinking behavior,” they wrote.
Instead, they said programs at the community and societal level would be more effective in protecting students from sexual violence.