U of T sex awareness event sparks passionate debate

The words ‘sex orgy’ have become closely affiliated with the University of Toronto in recent days.

That’s because of the university’s Sexual Education Centre’s kick-off event for their annual Sexual Awareness Week happening January 21 at the Oasis Aqua Lounge in downtown Toronto; a place described as “a water-themed adult’s playground” on the club’s website.

The student group has been holding events to promote awareness for the past eight to 10 years.

The idea is to provide sex education and a venue to practice it, but certified sex therapist and Host of Sex at 11 on Rogers TV, Rebecca Rosenblat has her concerns about combining the two concepts when teaching young people to have safe sex.

“This venue is absolutely amazing for anyone who’s comfortable with their sexuality, but I’m not sure it’s for everybody, particularly if there’s a group of students who know each other because those situations can create peer pressure,” she said.

Peer pressure is something the U of T group’s External Education and Outreach Coordinator Dylan Tower hopes to prevent with volunteers from the student group and staff from the lounge scheduled to monitor the venue throughout the event.

“It’s not an orgy,” he said. “That comment was made by a well-meaning poster on Reddit.com. They were just trying to promote the event to the University of Waterloo.”

Tower said although the group appreciated the attention, he would like to clarify what he describes as a “slight misconception.”

“The kick-off is actually a social event that is providing a very sex-positive atmosphere to [get] (sic) our guests – and people who are attending our other events – talking about sex in a non-judgmental atmosphere,” he said.

Rosenblat is not worried about peer pressure because the club has strict guidelines on etiquette. She hopes students will think first before trying anything they’ll regret.

“I would make sure that the purpose was not just on safe sex in terms of ‘wear a condom,’ but also feeling safe psychologically and emotionally, because that’s the part that nobody covers.”

“Putting young people together who haven’t been in that environment before, you talk about sex and then you sort of end up in a very sexual environment, I’m not sure if everyone can handle it,” she said.

Rosenblat emphasized that the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with decision-making, is not fully developed until the age of 25, consequently putting most undergraduate students in the undeveloped category.

“I would say first time around, just take it in, soak in the environment, enjoy the atmosphere, but don’t plan to jump into something when you haven’t thought about it.”