Although more than 83 percent of Texas district schools teach abstinence-only or no sexual education at all, many UT organizations provide resources to educate students on campus about these topics.
Many current UT students attended Texas public high schools that do not offer education regarding safe sex. In a report from Texas Freedom Network Education Fund for 2015-2016, 16.6 percent of Texas public schools taught abstinence plus safe sex, 58.3 percent taught abstinence-only and 25.1 percent had no sex educators.
UT offers resources including workshops, peer educators and free condoms distributed by various health-oriented organizations.
“I think UT being so open about safe sex exposes students, especially freshmen, to the … real world,” chemical engineering junior Yanan Wang said. “While abstinence is ideal, it is not always achievable. I feel like a lot of freshmen are curious, and it’s much better for them to explore their curiosity with an informed mind rather than a clueless one.”
Last fall, Trojan Sexual Health Report Card ranked UT as fifth in an annual ranking of the most sexually healthy universities in the nation. The rankings are determined based on the resources and education the schools offer to promote students’ sexual health.
Student groups such as Texas Public Health, UTerus and Healthyhorns all take part in trying to educate students about sexual health.
“There are people that get caught in not getting taught anything throughout middle school and high school,” said Julia Doncaster, public health senior and president of Texas Public Health. “From my own experience passing out condoms on campus, students have asked ‘What is that?’ It’s definitely important for universities to provide that education.”
Chemical engineering sophomore Braden Taack said more sex education in high schools is needed.
“(In high school) you always heard about the unwanted pregnancy scares from unprotected sex, and I think some education could’ve prevented that,” Taack said.
University Health Services provides free safer sex kits including condoms, lubricant, and information regarding consent, contraceptives and STI testing. UHS also provides educational online videos, including a series titled “Contraception for College Students” featuring a variety of methods such as intrauterine devices and birth control pills.
“We do our best when students arrive on campus with whatever level of knowledge they have to meet them where they are in a non-judgmental way,” said Jessica Hughes Wagner, manager for the Office of Health Promotion. “We meet them there and then give them the knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions.”