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The case for expanding sexuality education in medical school

The start of a new school year is a great time to reflect on education and the opportunities for growth within the educational system. Within the University of Minnesota’s health sciences programs, we try to continuously review our approach to health education to ensure that we’re seizing on such opportunities and positioning our programs for success wherever we can.

Along those lines, it’s been evident for some time now that we face a crisis in declining curriculum on sexuality education in medical schools across the United States and Canada. There is a clear need to better prepare medical students to be able to attend the myriad of sexual health problems their patients face.

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AHC game changer: Eli Coleman

This past year, the University of Minnesota positioned itself as a national leader in shaping and promoting sexual health courses in medical schools across the United States and Canada. Eli Coleman, Ph.D., director of the Program in Human Sexuality, has led this push with his vision for a required national curriculum for sexual education…

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U of M Expert: Pressure to be sexual may be waning

For teenagers, when it comes to sex it can often feel like “everyone is doing it.” But new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paint a different picture.

In a report released earlier this month, the CDC broke down the latest numbers on young people’s sexual activities. The study, which looked at 6,000 survey responses of young men and women ages 15 to 24, found the following:

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Is gender neutrality critical to gender equality?

From pink polka-dotted outfits and tutus to wear home from the hospital to toy cars and tool sets for birthday presents, it’s no secret that little boys and girls are quickly encouraged to play specific gender roles. But in a world increasingly focused on gender equality, some are saying it’s time to focus also on gender neutrality.

Activists in Sweden, one of the most gender equal nations of all, are now promoting a gender neutral pronoun: hen.  The idea initially surfaced years ago as a way to avoid space-consuming he/she writing. But now, some argue the concept could be key to encouraging a society where everyone is free to choose their own self, especially small children.

Walter Bockting, Ph.D., a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Program in Human Sexuality, isn’t sure the effort is necessary in terms of child development.

“Gender generally develops in very predictable ways,” Bockting says. “For the small percentage of people who don’t identify with the traditional gender categories of boy or girl, man or woman, these types of accommodations can be beneficial. But whether that identity applies is hard to determine until much closer to adolescence.”

Instead of discouraging gender-oriented play, Bockting suggests parents and caregivers provide a variety of options and activities to toddlers and young children. This allows parents to focus time and energy encouraging interests of the child while remaining open and supportive, whatever those interests may be.

“As long as the interests of the child are first at hand, it’s best to just let the child play and grow,” said Bockting. “Given space, time and an open environment, children will discover their own interests and identity.”

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