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Education Abroad Program Immerses Students in Sexual Health Education Culture in the Netherlands

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The University of Kentucky Office of LGBTQ* Resources — in partnership with Dr. Kristen Mark, LGBTQ* Resources faculty fellow and faculty member in the UK College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion — is offering a unique education abroad experience focused on gender and sexuality in Kentucky and the Netherlands.

The program, Sexual Health and Sexuality Education in the Netherlands, will introduce students to the cultural comparative study of human sexuality and sexual health education in a context where sexual health outcomes are the best in the world.

“The program takes place in the Netherlands because they have some of the best sexual health outcomes in the world. They have the lowest level of unintended pregnancy; they were the first country to provide marriage equality; and they have very low rates of sexually transmitted infections,” said Mark, who leads the program.

The partnership is unique in that the Office of LGBTQ* Resources has adopted this program as their formal education abroad offering. The office is also offering unique need-based scholarships and helping incorporate domestic dialogue before departure.

“We want to make sure that students who really want to engage in this learning experience are able to and that finances aren’t — at least for a certain number of students — an obstacle that keeps them from being a part of this,” said Lance Poston, director of LGBTQ* Resources.

To ensure that program participants frame their experience in the Netherlands through a Kentucky lens, the Office of LGBTQ* Resources is coordinating three sessions for program participants that focus on LGBTQ* history and politics in Kentucky, community support and LGBTQ* health care.

“We hope these sessions will help give students a full comparison and help frame some very tangible ways they can then give back in our local community,” Poston said.

UK senior Katrina Schweitzer, a gender and women’s studies major and former program participant, believes the addition of the at-home impact sessions are very important.

“I think that the three sessions definitely add another layer to the program. It allows you to really compare how things are handled. Through that comparison, you are then taught how to approach things in a better light,” Schweitzer said.

Nathaniel Wilson, a public health graduate student at UK, said he learned a lot through the program.

“I think it really set me apart in my education having that opportunity to study abroad and study in a field that I’m interested in and being able to do all of that while experiencing a whole new culture is incredible. I wouldn’t change that for anything,” Wilson said.

For more information or to apply to participate in the program, students should visit the program page.

Sexual Health and Sexuality Education in the Netherlands is one of many education abroad programs offered to UK students through the UK Education Abroad & Exchanges office in the International Center. For more information on study, intern, research, service or teaching abroad opportunities, visit http://international.uky.edu/EA.