A persistent theme of communication dominated the discussion during Vandal Health Education’s “Sex in the Dark” event on April 17.

More than 50 University of Idaho students attended the glow-in-the-dark sexual health panel, where they could anonymously text in questions to a panel of six people.

Glow sticks and safer sex supplies, such as condoms, were handed out before the lights were dimmed and questions were answered.

Though the intended theme for the event, which changes each time it is put on, was sexually transmitted infections, students were encouraged to ask any questions they had, regardless of whether they were medical questions.

A variety of questions were asked, regarding relationships, sexuality, pregnancy, contraception, infections and medical procedures, but the majority of questions resulted in a similar answer.

“Things just tend to go better if both people involved in doing something are on the same page,” said Dr. Bryn Parker of Moscow Family Medicine.

Valerie Blackburn | Argonaut
Panelists and participants were given glow-in-the-dark bracelets at the event April 17.

Each member of the panel stressed the importance of communication in a variety of situations, whether that communication be between sexual partners, friends or medical provider and patient.

When asked a question about potentially difficult conversations between sexual partners, student panelist Carson Poertner also stressed the importance of communication.

“You’re never going to know if you don’t bring it up,” Poertner said.

Julia Keleher, director of the LGBTQA Office said communication is important because that is how people come to consensual agreements.

“Yeah, sex is great, but it’s really about making sure we’re happy and we’re healthy and we feel good about ourselves and we feel safe,” Keleher said.

The goal of the program was to provide an opportunity for students to receive answers to questions they may not want to ask someone directly, said Madie Brown, graduate support assistant for Vandal Health Education. She said the program provides an opportunity to “put to sleep” any myths about sexual health in a way that’s better than surfing the internet for answers.

“It can be a potentially uncomfortable subject, so we’re trying to make it as comfortable as possible for them,” Brown said.

Brown said sexual health is not talked about enough even though it is just as important as physical and mental health.

If students were unable to attend the event, Brown said they should know that it is okay to ask questions.

“If you have questions about anything sexual health related, don’t wait,” Brown said. “Reach out to someone that you trust, reach out to a medical provider or go on the internet and visit reputable sites.”

Brown said Vandal Health Education tries to put the program on at least once per semester, two if they can, and living groups can request the program, which can be tailored to whatever audience requests it.

Vandal Health Education will also host “Prescription Drug Take Back Day” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 in the Idaho Commons, and “Dash After Dark,” a 5k run or walk 9 p.m. April 24 at the Student Recreation Center.

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