Pleasure, Positivity, and Promotion: A Focus on Pleasure to Reduce Sexual Risks

May 25, 2021 | 1:00pm - 2:30pm

Over the last decade, there has been a push for sex-positive approaches to sexual health promotion, including discussions around desire and pleasure.  While many researchers have suggested a move towards pleasure and sex positivity, pleasure is often still left out of practice. Part of this problem is that sexuality educators already face many challenges in performing their daily tasks, are overextended, face several restrictions (governmental and school policies).  In this session, we will discuss how the inclusion of pleasure in sexuality education curricula can lower teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infections. As a group, we will discuss current challenges educators face in incorporating pleasure into their curricula and brainstorm solutions. Finally, we will discuss gender, racial, and socioeconomic differences in adolescents’ experiences of pleasure and the role of sociocultural barriers such as double standards, respectability politics, and cultural values.


Gabrielle S. Evans, MPH, CHES 

Gabrielle has taught comprehensive sexuality education for over four years. She has facilitated programs for faith-based organizations and led programs for Native American adolescents and providers. Gabrielle is a doctoral student at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston pursuing her Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences. As a sexuality educator and researcher Gabrielle hopes to reduce sexual health disparities among Native American populations and expand research on Native sexual well-being. 

Shemeka Thorpe, Ph.D. 

Dr. Shemeka Thorpe has taught comprehensive sexuality education to young women and femmes and college students for over 8 years. Dr. Thorpe is passionate about changing the narrative of Black women’s sexuality research from risk reduction to sex-positive. Her research agenda focuses the sexual development and sexual well-being of Black women and college students’ sexual health and substance use. Shemeka is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Kentucky.

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