STDs are pitching a tent on the charts. Earlier this summer, the Rhode Island Department of Health found that between 2013 and 2014, syphilis cases were up by 79 percent, HIV infections were up by 33 percent and gonorrhea cases were up by 30 percent. They blamed it on the increased sexual activity that Tinder created.
This increase isn’t confined to the booty-hungry pirates of the Ocean State, either. A 2013 NYU study reported a 16 percent increase in HIV cases between 1999 and 2008 from 33 states surveyed.
Craigslist-catalyzed sexual encounters were a major player in that increase. The trend continues internationally: the Christchurch Sexual Health Clinic found that the gay online dating app Grindr facilitated over half of all syphilis cases in New Zealand in 2012.
The formula is simple: Millennials use the Internet to find each other, then they go on dates and occasionally have one night stands.
More sex leads to more risky sex, which is followed by an increase in STDs. Who can blame us? We’re young, hung and ready for fun. We like to party! Kids who grew up with computers are graduating into sexual deviancy. And while many can navigate the waters of online dating with their genitalia unscathed, an unlucky few are not as fortunate. Having sex with relative strangers is a minefield and a college campus is the perfect place to get blown.
UT Austin is no stranger to Playboy’s Top Ten Party Schools list, and at an institution where “mingling” and “hanging out” are commonplace, sex education is a necessity. The University Health Center (UHC) offers sex education online and in the physical form of pamphlets. But state-funded sexual education is weird when you really think about it. It’s one of the few places you can find tax-funded drawings of penises.
The dildo they use to show students how to put on condoms was also paid for by the people and for the people. Your parents, if they live in Texas, helped buy that dildo. God bless us every one. It’s surprising that the flagship public college in Texas has any sort of sexual education materials, actually. In 2004, the State Board of Education adopted health textbooks lacking medically correct information on contraception and STD prevention.
Abstinence-only programs are the predominant education method in Texas K-12 public schools. Thank Greg Abbott that it’s different at the college level. The educational topics on the UHC website range from birth control to intersex issues, from gonorrhea to UTIs. The material covers all the bases in how to have safe sex if you’re a straight person using traditional vaginally penetrative sex. That’s right—anal sex isn’t discussed.
Not providing accessible information on safe anal sex is problematic because most gay men start having sex in college. College is a time when many queer people come out and start exploring their sexuality. By not discussing any other sexual activities, the UHC inherently promotes vaginal sex as the “normal” way to have sex and marginalizes queer audiences who don’t have that as an option. Men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women deserve educational materials for safe sexual activity that is unique to their lives.
Anal sex is incredibly risky and deserves the spotlight. Anal tissue is more delicate and susceptible to tearing than oral and vaginal tissues. Regardless of how much lubricant you use, it will never be enough to prevent tearing. These tears and the sexual fluids that enter them are a frequent way of STD transmissions.
As the folks over at Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry know, some gay men have a lot of sex with a lot of people. The voracious casual sex of an isolated population is a surefire way to bolster those STD statistics. The best way to combat the spike in STDs is education about risky sexual practices, especially those that aren’t well known. Schools should mandate basic sexual education—all different kinds of it—as part of the college orientation process.
Queer people start having sex in college and need accessible educational material on relevant sexual practices. Sexually adventurous heterosexual people will share in the metaphorical wealth. Universities should patch up their big educational hole and stuff it with resources on anal and other non-traditional sexual activities. You know, kind of like a butt plug.