Students for Choice, reproductive rights and Sex in the Dark

As the two groups-self-named “Con-dum” and “Lick My Boots”-competed to see who could put a condom on a banana first, Betsy Lamberson and Katie Zimmer, co-directors of Students for Choice, walked around shouting directions with condoms stuck to their sailor hats.

Every time banana handlers did not succeed in properly pulling on the condom, Lamberson sprayed them with Halloween silly string.

There was plenty of other sexual humor at the last week’s “Sex in the Dark” informational workshop. Lamberson said she tried to break the ice with sexual humor to get students to cooperate.

“If they work together, they are not embarrassed,” Lamberson said.She also said that through the games and jokes, students actually get to learn about important issues and situations-things about which they would otherwise be too embarrassed to ask.

But there were also serious sides to the night.

Alycia DeMayo, volunteer coordinator for Planned Parenthood, gave a lecture about sexually transmitted infections and conducted a group discussion, informing students of their options when selecting potential partners. “Use your eyes. If there are bumps on their genitals, you can always say, ‘Let’s just watch a movie,'” DeMayo said, only half-jokingly.

“That’s the nice thing about peer sex ed.When you ask a question, you don’t have an older figure pointing at you. You can talk and share experiences,” said Lamberson of the group’s success. Lamberson has had no problems getting the students to partake in the subject of sex.

“Once you get them started, they’ll talk about it.They like talking about sex,” Lamberson said.

The only issue that Lamberson has come across is some students’ reactions to Students for Choice. Most students are surprised to learn that the group’s main focus is on students’ rights when it comes to sexual issues.

The group’s intent is to “organize events on campus to raise awareness about reproductive health, work with and support their local Planned Parenthood health centers and mobilize advocates of reproductive rights.”

Last April, Students for Choice held a rally in front of the Park Building for affordable, preventative health care. The group’s previous co-director, Kelli Lund, and State Sen. Paula Julander, D-Salt Lake City, addressed the crowd, speaking about the importance of preventive health care. Students collected more than 1,000 petitions asking the U administration to cover contraceptives and annual exams in the school’s student health-insurance plans.

Another issue that the group is tackling is the passing of Julander’s Promotion of Preventive Health Care bill in the Utah Senate, which requires health-insurance policies to provide coverage for preventative health-care services, including prescription contraceptives.

Although the bill was voted down, Students for Choice believes that “preventive health care is good public policy,” and points out that similar legislation has passed in other states.

The group encourages students to look out for petitions about the issue that will again be addressed during next year’s legislative session, beginning Jan. 19.

“We are ‘committed to the promotion and preservation of reproductive rights as fundamental human rights,'” reads the group’s Web site. The group promotes an abortion-rights outlook on sexual and abortion-related issues.

According to the site, “Pro-choice means supporting access to all reproductive options-whether it’s motherhood, contraception, abortion or adoption-and supporting the right of all individuals to make their own personal decisions about when and whether to have a child.”

But Students for Choice is more involved than around only abortion issues. According to Lamberson, the group is also concerned with prevention and the teaching of how to deal with unwanted pregnancies.

“We are trying to cover the basis of sexual health, sex ed and political issues,” Lamberson said.Lamberson also acknowledges that the group’s main focus is to have available information for students.

“Everyone has questions.I have been doing this for two years and I still have questions,” she said.

In the end, Students for Choice is “so much more than an abortion rights group with a focus on prevention,” Lamberson said.For more information regarding Students for Choice, visit its Web site at www.students4choice.org.

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