In 1993, I saw a flier seeking volunteers who were interested in being sexual health peer instructors at the University of Texas at Austin – at the time I was a microbiology major and thought that I was eventually going to be a genetic engineer (egads!). I responded to the ad and following a semester of training, classes, and eventually serving my time as a sexual health peer instructor, my fate was sealed, and I knew that I would somehow work in sex education.
After years of working as a sexuality educator and earning my master of arts in human sexuality education at New York University and while working on a PhD in Health Education back at UT, I realized that the disease and pregnancy prevention model for sexuality education and research was not sufficient for helping people live happy and sexually healthy lives. I began searching for others who held a similar point of view and was lucky to find a set of colleagues at the National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC) at San Francisco State University where I was hired as the Director of Education and Training and worked for nearly four years. At the NSRC, my work generally focused on not only shifting from a disease and pregnancy prevention model for sexuality education and research but began to incorporate a social justice and human rights perspective, as well.
Today, I hold the view that sexual health and well being is a basic human right and that all humans deserve to live sexually happy lives that are free of shame, guilt, and oppression. In my work, I strive to educate about and advocate for sexual health promotion that empowers individuals, families, and communities to determine what being sexually healthy means for them and to gain access to the resources, services, and information that will allow them to achieve it. For many people, this includes overcoming and tearing down many of the social, cultural, and structural forces that have been put in place to keep them (us) from expressing our sexuality and love in the ways that we desire. I may be a bit of a dreamer, but I honestly believe that sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health resources is key to improving the lives of millions of people around the globe.