Jay Friedman, a sex educator, gave a lecture to about 125 people at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Mandela Room of the Old University Union.
The Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) paid an undisclosed amount to bring Friedman to campus as part of his speaking tour, “The J-Spot: A Sex Educator Tells All.”
Friedman said that he has been working in the field of sex education for 27 years — the first seven years working in Planned Parenthood in Ithaca, the next 20 touring on the college circuit.
He said that he hopes students will debate and discuss the issues he raises in his lecture long after it is finished.
“Students should better understand how their sexual rights are being repressed, and fight for their sexual rights,” Friedman said. “And by attending lectures like mine, hopefully they will be more comfortable talking about sex.”
Friedman said that audiences “demand, desire and deserve” quality information about sex.
“We live in one of the most sex-negative, sex-repressed, sex-phobic nations in the world,” Friedman said. “I hope there is room for growth for everyone.”
Friedman covered a variety of topics in his lecture, from requirements adults ought to meet before they are ready to have sex to the “three big pressures” men face, including effective condom use, healthy relationships and other subjects. He said he performs his speaking tour to help students learn more about sex education.
“Most of us don’t get information about sex when we’re grown-up,” Friedman said. “Sex is good, what we learn about sex is not so good.”
Friedman also talked about the downsides of abstinence-only approaches to sex education in many schools throughout the country.
“I affirm abstinence, as we all choose to abstain at different times of our lives,” Friedman said. “But an abstinence-only approach only cripples us with sexual ignorance. These curricula are full of misinformation and simplistic slogans, and do a disservice to the needs and desires of students. We are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on this mistaken approach to sex education.”
He argued that many sex education programs in public schools violate the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
“What does politics have to do with sex? Everything,” Friedman told the audience. “All too often we don’t see the connection between sex and politics. Sex and sex education are under tremendous attack.”
Matthew Lugo, the insights chair of the SAPB, said he attended Wednesday’s lecture to support sex education.
“A lot of people don’t get [sex education] in high school,” said Lugo, a senior majoring in psychology. “It’s really important to educate people as much as you can.”
Jeanette Russo, a junior majoring in psychology, said she thought that sex education was important and should be reinforced in college.
“Maybe some high school students didn’t get that education and it’s important enough to keep learning,” Russo said. “It should be discussed.”
Russo also said she found Friedman very engaging.
“He was very comfortable and so that made everyone else comfortable,” she said. “It was a great lecture, the multimedia aspect, PowerPoint and video clips made it very relatable to students.”
Friedman said the most interesting thing he has learned during his career is how much more there is to learn about sex.
“I don’t know it all,” Friedman said. “And that’s part of the fun. Sex is a life-long process, and learning about it is the same.”
More information about Friedman and his “J-Spot” lecture is available on his website, www.jaytalk.com.