Sexual and Gender Awareness Week

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Sexual and Gender Awareness Week will be in full swing beginning Feb. 6, encouraging students to discuss, explore and learn about healthy and safe sexuality.

A series of workshops, games and activities will be held throughout the week, all geared to engage discussion about the birds and the bees.

"Our main goal is to invite conversation and to provide opportunities throughout the week where people can ask questions, have dialogues about issues relating to healthy sexuality and gender expression and also to hopefully have opportunities to learn," said University of Calgary registered psychologist Carolyn Claire.

Claire said that an important stage for the student community is reaching a level of security and proper questioning in order for students to go about their sexuality in the best and safest ways possible.

She said it is important to acknowledge the large range of gender and sexual preferences, and to be able to search, question and go about these identities appropriately.

"Generally speaking, most students are in that young adult age group, and one of their main developmental tasks has to do with identity, and so our identity as sexual beings and our identity as coming to and expressing our gender plays a huge part in that," she said. "It's also important from the perspective of students, to invite discussion about STIs and to raise awareness on how you can be sexually active and protect yourself."

This is a collaborative project, in which several on- and off-campus groups are involved, like the Wellness and Health Awareness Team, the Women's Resource Centre, the Calgary Sexual Health Centre and the Students' Union.

According to Shannon Jones, a coordinator from the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, it is vital to promote and raise awareness for all types of health.

"Health is important, but there is a focus on physical health, mental health and emotional health. Sexuality is not always included in those things, and sexuality is an important part of who we are," said Jones, who added that knowing the relationship between all these forms of health and how they can interact must be encouraged.

"Human sexuality and being able to express ourselves in a healthy way is normal, and it is our right as human beings," said Jones.

Second-year psychology student Genevieve Hoffart, a member of Wellness and Health Awareness Team, said that because students are in an environment where they are able to search for and meet sexual partners, having access to resources that can guide them is beneficial.

"There are a lot of opportunities for sex at a university campus. You're finding out who you are and who you're attracted to and we want people to build healthy relationships and approach sex the right way," said Hoffart. She said that this project is supposed to be a fun, interactive way to get these messages across.

"We want people to start talking about it, and not to be afraid to talk about it. This whole thing is supposed to be fun and interesting and we want [students] to ask questions."