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Sexual Health Resource Fair to educate students

An on-campus resource is singing along to the tune of Salt-N-Pepa’s hit classic: “Let’s Talk About Sex.”

This Friday, Ohio University’s Office of Health Promotion is hosting a sexual health resource fair for students to learn more about the sexual health resources available to them.

The fair will be held at the third floor atrium of Baker University Center as well as in Leadership Room 366. There, students will be able to walk through different tables from various community partners to get resources and to have conversations about sexual health.

Since the pandemic, the Office of Health Promotion has been in a period of transition and working to make these resources more available to students. Taylor Bauer, the assistant director of peer health education and empowerment at OU, hopes to revamp sexual health education on campus.

“For us, these first rounds of events and work that we're putting out is really to just re-energize the conversation to get the conversation started, which is the tip of the iceberg as far as the work that we have to do on our campus when it comes to supporting sexual health initiatives and creating that sense of empowerment,” Bauer said.

Along with the resource fair, the Office of Health Promotion is also planning a “Sexy Game Night” April 20 for students to win prizes and gain additional resources.

Within the Office of Health Promotion, this fair has been planned primarily by student interns. One of these interns, Mchaley Kirchner, a senior studying community and public health, hopes to provide sexual health education that some people may not have received prior to college.

“We want to promote education that people didn't necessarily get during high school, middle school and everything,” she said. “We want to figure out the best way to educate people while trying to make it fun and interesting.”

The interns have been working with various community partners such as Equitas Health, a nonprofit healthcare system. According to a previous Post report, they are one of the nation’s largest organizations serving the needs of LGBTQIA+ and HIV/AIDS patients. With locations in Ohio, Texas, Kentucky and West Virginia, their Athens location lies at 8 W. Stimson Ave.

“We're hoping to pull in some of those partners that have tables to share their resources and promote and empower sexual health (and) reproductive health on campus,” Bauer said.

In addition to Equitas Health, there will also be tables from the Women’s Center, the LGBT Center and Lion’s Den that will include prizes and information.

The university’s LGBT Center will be continuing its work of promoting queer sexual health education at the resource fair.

“That's definitely an area that I think needs more attention and we're working to build up the capacity to be able to support queer sexual health even more on campus,” Bauer said.

Bauer wants everyone to feel represented at this resource fair regardless of their sexuality.

“We've also tried to make sure as far as our giveaways go that we've got a pretty inclusive amount of products and things to give out,” Bauer said. “Being able to secure those dental dams was pretty huge for the group.”

Aside from promoting safe sex, the Office of Health Promotion also hopes to end the stigma surrounding sex and sexual health. One way to do this is by starting conversations.

“We want to get people to talk more about sex and healthy sex and stuff like that (and) try to de-stigmatize it because it is very stigmatized,” Kirchner said.

This stigma can especially apply to queer sexual health.

“From my perspective as a queer individual, that stigma is very much there and it's rooted in all these other systems that are at play that ‘other’ you or make you feel as if you don't belong in this conversation,” Bauer said.

The Health Promotion team encourages conversation about these topics within their office at Baker Center 339.

“It’s very interesting showing people that they have a safe space to come into the office and everything because it's very open and ready and there are people who want to learn more,” Kirchner said.

Bauer also hopes to hear from students having these conversations.

“We're open to feedback if students or other people have perspectives that they want to bring to the office,” Bauer said. “We're always open for students stopping in and chatting with us.”

Alex Cannon, a sophomore studying finance, feels sexual health education is important on college campuses.

“College is a very sexually active environment and a lot of scary things can happen within that world (like) STDs, pregnancy scares and stuff like that,” he said. “Some people don't know how to deal with that so education would be important.”

One of the many goals of the Office of Health Promotion is to empower and support students with the resources that they provide on campus.

“I hope people get connected to the resources,” Bauer said. “I hope people feel as though there's some support coming from the university from our office to be able to have these conversations and de-stigmatize them.” 

Bauer and the rest of the office encourage students to check out the sexual health resource fair on Friday and take advantage of the resources being provided.

“Get your free condoms, get your free dental dams, get your resources that we've got,” Bauer said.


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