The Sexual Literacy Forum is dedicated to fighting ignorance, silence, shame and fear around sexuality. We promote physical and emotional well-being by encouraging self-reflection, self-care, care for others, and informed decision-making. We are committed to creating a nonjudgmental and accepting space where students with different backgrounds and experiences can discuss boundaries, desires, identities, and experiences. SeLF seeks to be respectful and inclusive of all sexes, genders, races and ethnicities, economic and social classes, faiths, sexual orientations, relationship models, and types of embodiment.
Ranging from fun to serious and from practical to personal, SeLF discussions will engage participants on a wide range of topics, including: anatomy, gender, birth control, desire, race, body image, boundaries, faith, safer sex, kink, relationships, sexual orientation, porn, reproduction, pleasure, power and identity.
The Sexual Literacy Forum was founded in 2012 as a Yale undergraduate student organization by Paulina Haduong and Hannah Slater (BK '13). SeLF was inspired in part by FemSex, a student-run course started at UC Berkeley in 1993 which has since spread to Brown and other campuses. FemSex, short for The Female Sexuality Workshop, has been hugely popular and successful in both transmitting practical health information and opening meaningful discussion among students. SeLF brings the same mission and student-facilitated format to Yale, inviting people of all genders to discuss topics in human sexuality.
SeLF is part of a long history of sexual education at Yale, which began formally in 1970 with the not-for-credit lecture series “Topics in Human Sexuality.” The lecturers, Phillip and Lorna Sarrel (a gynecologist and a psychiatric social worker, respectively), estimate that between 1970 and 1982 about 80% of Yale students took the course. The Sarrels created discussion sections at the students’ requests, and helped spread the curriculum to other schools. “Topics” ended in 1995 when a human sexuality class was offered in the psychology department. Most recently, Professor William Summers taught “The Biology of Gender and Human Sexuality” from 2005 to 2009. Since then, Yalies’ sexual education has come mainly from workshops by the Peer Health Educators at the start of freshman year, now supplemented by workshops with the Communication and Consent Educators, and student-organized events. All of these have done important work in creating a better-informed student population, and the Sexual Literacy Forum seeks to continue and add to these efforts.