Boldly Me is a first stop on the road to unlearning all the inaccurate knowledge your high school taught you about sex.
We can all agree that we didn’t learn much in Sex Ed. in our middle and high school education. Sex Ed. has an overall focus on cisgender heterosexual relationships — some high schools focus only on the basic sexually transmitted infections and urge students to wear a condom during sex, if the students were even taught anything other than abstinence.
According to oregonlaws.org, schools must provide age-appropriate sexual health that is medically accurate and include information on STIs, importance of having healthy relationships, and protection against unplanned pregnancy.
However, even with these laws in place, several Oregon State University students were quick to share their own dissatisfaction with their primary education with me. They feel as if they have no idea what they are doing when it comes to sex and sexual health.
That’s where Boldly Me comes in. Boldly Me is a week long event, packed with events surrounding sexual health and identity that’s been happening on campus since 2017.
“It was built from an existing event, The Red Dress Fashion Show,” Sara Caldwell-Kan, a Wellness Agent program coordinator at Oregon State said, via email. “Wellness agents and other students recognized the need to make an event that didn’t just focus on STI prevention and awareness, but also identity, love and relationships. Thus, Boldly Me was born.”
What makes Boldly Me unique is its connection to identity across the board. One of the coordinators of the week this year, Anna Spross, said they wanted to focus on how identity intersects with your sexuality.
“We wanted to really focus on identity and sexuality through different scopes of identity, through cultural identity, gender identity, and your ability status and all that sort of stuff,” Spross said.
The Boldly Me committee worked hard to make sure there was a diverse range of events that anyone could relate to. From Student Health Services, to the cultural centers on campus, to the newly formed Disabled Students Union, everyone is coming together to make this week inclusive to all identities.
“This week is all about celebrating the uniqueness contributed by each and every member of the OSU community,” Caldwell-Kan said via email.
There are a variety of events happening on campus, all open to the public. The week begins with the Sexual Health Fair in the MU Lounge on Monday, Feb 24, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and ends with the big Variety Show on Friday, Feb 28, starting at 6 p.m.
The Variety Show is their staple event and Caldwell-Kan’s favorite.
“[It’s] just a true celebration of unique identities and experiences. I love hearing students share what makes them Boldly them,” Caldwell-Kan said via email.
Spross is excited for one of their more sex focused events.
”I really wanted to have an outside source come in and teach a class on sexual education,” Spross said. “So many people don’t talk about sex and they don’t talk about how to have healthy sex.”
She Bop, a women-owned adult store in Portland, is participating in Boldly Me with a class on sex toys. The history of them, how to buy them, how to clean them, and how to find one that works best for you.
Other events include a Drag Makeup workshop, watercolor and screen printing with the Crafts Center, and even conversation centered events that focus on intersecting identities such as the Disabled and Queer Story circle and the QTIPOC Collective.
Boldly Me is supported by the Student Health Services, so they are offering discounts and help for students who would like to get tested for STIs throughout the week, which includes free HIV testing the entire week of and half-off chlamydia and gonorrhea testing.
Caldwell-Kan describes Boldly Me’s mission to be a week dedicated to creating and promoting safe spaces for people to be themselves, talk about sexual health, and discover safe ways to learn about their own sexual and social identities.
For more information on the events happening across campus, click here.
T-Shirt photo by Madilyn Sturges
All other photos taken by Jacob Le