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Sept. 12: Free Lunch and Learn with College of Education Researcher

Dr. Kristen Mark

Enjoy free lunch while learning about the value of inclusive sex education from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 in the University of Kentucky Singletary Center President’s Room. The discussion is part of a UK Center for Equality and Social Justice serieson advocacy and engagement, with all sessions catered by Lexington caterers of color.

Dr. Kristen Mark, a sex and relationships researcher, educator, and therapist in the UK College of Education, will talk about how sex education focused on inclusivity and community engagement can impact positive health outcomes.

Mark is engaged with the local community through sex education and sex education policy, and is an American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT)-certified sexuality educator. She actively publishes her research in academic journals but also finds ways to disseminate her science to the masses through print, radio, and television media.

Mark says comprehensive sexuality education, where students learn about abstinence but are also given accurate information about consent, relationships, sexual identity, gender diversity, sexual behavior, contraception, pregnancy, and more is not consistently delivered in the U.S. school system.

“Our nation is divided on the topic of sex education; it has been made into a political issue, when it should simply be considered an issue of health. This fact has led to many gaps in the ability to deliver a high-quality, comprehensive, scientifically accurate message. Many are provided with shame-based messages about abstinence and nothing further, leaving them confused and isolated,” Mark said.

Mark said in other countries, like the Netherlands or Sweden, comprehensive sex education is delivered every year from preschool onward, and these countries have some of the lowest rates of unintended pregnancy, STIs, and other markers of sexual and reproductive health. Researchers have clear data to support that comprehensive and inclusive sex education positively impacts health outcomes, she said.