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Jennifer Noble is a professor at PCC and she teaches Psych 25, which is a human sexuality class. She says the class is empowering because people aren't always aware of how complex sexuality is. She also states the class focuses on understanding how relationships and sexulity influence each other. (Christopher Martinez/Courier)
Jennifer Noble is a professor at PCC and she teaches Psych 25, which is a human sexuality class. She says the class is empowering because people aren’t always aware of how complex sexuality is. She also states the class focuses on understanding how relationships and sexulity influence each other. (Christopher Martinez/Courier)

Most students grow up hearing the metaphor of “the birds and the bees” and listening to brief, and often frightening lectures on sex education. Sexuality is a much deeper concept than likening it to sex itself, however. Gender identity, sexual orientation and thorough anatomy lessons are aspects of sexuality that are glossed over in middle school and sometimes high school sex education classes.

Human Sexuality, the appropriately titled Psychology 25 class, discusses such topics that students may have missed out on previously. Taught only by Dr. Jennifer Noble this semester, students have a safe environment to learn and explore the components of sexuality.

“[Students] learn about a lot of topics that are talked about in the media, but maybe they don’t have good background on,” said Noble. “Sexual orientation and gender issues are definitely hot topics and we spend a lot of time talking about those.”

While it might feel awkward to discuss such a private subject, students should not shy away from the judgment-free nature of the class.

“A lot of students wouldn’t know [what] questions to ask because they haven’t even been open to these topics,” said Noble.

Understanding sexuality is an “extremely important” concept for students according to Noble since sexuality is part of everyday life.

“You are addressing sexuality in your everyday life all the time…whether it be sexual orientation…relationships, love, it’s all related to sexuality,” she said.

The class is tailored to focus on human interactions and the role sexuality plays in relationships. Students tend to show more interest in topics such as love, intimacy and relationships as a result and generally enjoy the course.

“It was a positive and pleasant experience,” said Phyllis Lun, now a student at UC Berkeley. “Sexuality is not a commonly discussed topic in our society.”

Lun recalls being fascinated with the “developmental aspect of sexuality” and how sexuality is involved throughout the lifespan. Although Lun wished there was more discussion on sexual assault prevention, time did not allow for deeper dialogue compared to the main topics.

Martha Castro, who’s currently enrolled in the class, said it’s one of her favorite classes that she’s taken. So far, Castro enjoys the discussions and video clips on gender roles and sexism the most, specifically how men and women are perceived in society.

“Men are being taught in society to view women as objects and that’s creating a problem for us as they are being desensitized,” said Castro.

Additionally, Castro is fascinated with “the effects of love in the brain” since she found out a series of chemical changes occur in the brain during feelings of love.

As for the impact on students, Noble feels that the class acts as an awakening experience.

“It ends up being very empowering because when they can know more about issues related to sexuality, they automatically think of themselves and they automatically understand themselves or their family members better.”

Comments

  1. Because almost anything that one says, posts or does of a sexual nature can be construed as sexual harassment, a sex education teacher must tread lightly when using any word or image that might be construed as sexually offensive.

    Check out the ambiguous wording of our Sexual Harassment Policy 2200, especially section 2 (c) i and iii “Conduct or words between two or more persons, but witnessed by someone not directly involved in the conduct or words, can constitute sexual harassment of the indirect recipient” and “Conduct does not have to be intended as sexual harassment to be offensive or unwelcome.”

    Section (2) C of the same code cites “examples of the type of conduct which can constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:”(To limit this post, I will only list the ones relevant to a class on sex education):

    (4) Visual conduct (i.e., leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, or posters).

    (6) Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations.

    Especially troubling is the ambiguity of language in numbers 4 and 6 with such words as “degrading” and “suggestive” and “obscene,” leaving an open door for any interpretation.

    “Third party” harassment, defined in section 2, would allow a student or faculty or classified employee to walk by a classroom where she hears the C word, feels offended and claims sexual harassment, not knowing that the lesson was about colloquial words used to describe body parts.

    Posters, actions or gestures in a classroom can also create offense and, according to the guidelines above, constitute sexual harassment.

    If you think I am overreacting and “that can’t happen here,” read about the administrative leave given to Jammie Price, a tenured professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University, who was punished for screening a documentary on pornography, readily available in the school’s library for anyone to checkout and view.

    Or read about University of Colorado Sociology professor Arthur Gilbert, who was also put on administrative leave for discussing the purity crusades of the 19th century and current attitudes on masturbation.

    Or read about the resignation of University of Colorado at Boulder Sociology professor Patricia Adler, who was forced to resign for her outspoken discussion of prostitution.

    read about Psychology teacher Toni Blake, who was accused of sexual harassment in a demonstration of how to properly use a condom.

    Pasadena City College’s speech and harassment codes have earned this school a Red Light rating with The Fire, a legal group suing to protect the academic speech rights of students and faculty. Embarrassingly, we are described as a school without a commitment to free expression and inquiry.

    So Ms. Noble, tread lightly. Many of our students are not as “psyched out” about sex as you might think.

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