The diversity of thought and experience amongst the University’s student body is one of the things that makes being a student at Brown so special. This diversity includes various educational backgrounds, which greatly affect the ways in which Brown students interact with each other, the University and the world. For example, within the class of 2025, 58% of admitted students attended public high school, 31% attended private high school and 11% attended parochial schools. Even within these categories, curriculum and experience vary greatly from state to state and district to district. This is especially true when it comes to sex education. Some students may come to Brown with extensive knowledge of sexual health, while others may have next to no formal education on the topic.
When I first came to Brown, I expected to receive more sex education than I did. While every first-year student must attend a consent workshop run by BWell Health Promotion during orientation — which is immensely important and should remain in place — there is no further mandatory programming to address the disparities in sexual health knowledge among the student body. While most students who come to Brown are technically adults, that does not mean they are equally equipped with all the right resources to make the healthiest and safest decisions about sex.
One of the questions I received in my digital, anonymous questions box asked about the best sexual education resources at Brown, why students should use these resources and areas where the University can improve. While neither incoming nor current students are required to receive much sex education, there are a lot of resources available on campus relating to sexual health that students can access if they so choose. However, these resources can be difficult for students to find, and the University can and should do a better job of highlighting them.
BWell’s student-led sex education group, the Sexual Health Awareness Group, puts on all sorts of events for Brown students, ranging from workshops unpacking complex topics like desirability politics to games like sex trivia and Jeopardy! My favorite resource that SHAG offers is an anonymous text program, where you can ask any quick sex ed-related questions you may have and get a response within 24 hours. This service is particularly useful for immediate questions that you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking about in person. For instance, questions like “What is the best way to dispose of a condom if I have a roommate?” and “How long will it take for a positive on a pregnancy test to show up?” can be directed there. The BWell website itself also has a wide range of information and resources on various topics including sex toys, emergency contraception and sexually transmitted infection symptoms.
While these formal resources exist at the University, sexual health education at Brown typically happens in more casual settings, whether that be online or through interpersonal conversations. Talking about sex with friends and peers is the way most people learn and expand their understanding. Even when we don’t realize something counts as sex education, it often can and should.
Brown needs to do a better job of putting its students on an even playing field when it comes to sex education, but students must also continue to help one another learn. Whether it be sharing formal resources such as BWell and SHAG, going to CVS with your friend to get Plan B or recounting an awkward hook-up, we should normalize talking about sex with each other. Sometimes our most relatable and accessible sexual health education can be found in each other.
If you have questions about sex or relationships that could be discussed in a future column, please submit anonymous questions to an anonymous form at https://tinyurl.com/BDHsexcolumn. Anusha Gupta ’25 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send responses to this opinion to email@example.com and other op-eds to firstname.lastname@example.org.