Student organization gets political … sexually

Senior Monique Johnson, a criminal justice major, took a trip to our nation’s capital this summer, but she was not there to sightsee or visit family.

Johnson and sophomore pre-med major Ngan Lam met up with other members from Vox: Voices of Planned Parenthood from across America. They all lobbied in front of both Houses of Congress for a women’s reproductive rights clause to be added to President Barack Obama’s health care plan. The clause was, in effect, added on July 16 to the bill, which is still before Congress.

Vox is a program that educates and mobilizes students and youth in support of reproductive health and rights.  Vox groups across the country organize events, educate their peers, support their local Planned Parenthood health centers, and mobilize students and other young people to speak out for reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services.

Johnson, who serves as the FAU Vox president, said, “[Our goal is] to educate the student population on women’s, as well as humans’, rights and the political side of reproduction.”

The organization was brought to FAU during the spring semester of 2009 when Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast, along with former University of Central Florida Vox affiliate Katy Stevens, decided to create Vox chapters throughout South Florida.  Chapters were also opened at the University of Miami and Florida International University. Johnson, along with her close friend senior psychology major Paula Laidley, were tapped as the chapter’s president and vice president, respectively, and Lam was tapped as the group’s secretary.

Johnson and Laidley have made it their goal to inform what they feel is a sexually uninformed student body.
“Students aren’t really educated on sex [at FAU], and you can never have enough education on sex,” said Laidley. “Furthermore, women are still not represented well enough in the sex education that is traditionally taught.”

So, why does the student body need another organization on campus that is geared toward sexual enlightenment when the FAU Today & Beyond Wellness Center is still up and running? Johnson explained that the two entities, while slightly similar in premise, are indeed quite different.
“We are not just about sex education,” she noted. “We are also about sexual political awareness. Today & Beyond Wellness doesn’t educate politically.”

Vox, a pro-choice organization, believes that students should learn all aspects of sex in an open environment. Due to politics, however, sex is often taught on a limited basis in schools.

Sophomore political science major Karina Ellis, who is in the process of obtaining a certificate in women’s studies, agreed that an organization on campus should be geared toward teaching students an alternate side of sex than to that which is taught in school.
“It’s good to get a different opinion [on sex]. It needs to be taught in schools, and people need to quit acting like it’s not happening,” Ellis asserted.

Laidley gave an example of a piece of legislation passed in 1996 by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, called the Florida Abstinence Education Program, which requires abstinence to be taught at Florida public schools. The organization felt this is just one example of the deprivation of proper sex education that leads to many of America’s sex-related issues such as high STD rates.
“Kids are going to do it anyway; however, they must learn to do it safely,” Monique Johnson stated.

When FAU’s Vox chapter isn’t lobbying in Washington, D.C., they can occasionally be caught at a table in the Breezeway on the Boca campus educating passing students on various issues, with, most recently, an exhibition teaching students the correct way to put on a condom.

The group also holds events on the Boca campus, such as Sex Trivia Night and the upcoming Scary Sex Spooktakular, at which Vox members will be debunking various myths about sex.

Vox also holds condom giveaways and is currently promoting an affiliation with the new Planned Parenthood Center on Glades Road in Boca, which provides comprehensive women’s health services as well as sexually transmitted infection testing for men and women.
 

To learn more about or get involved with the FAU chapter of Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood:

– Check out their Facebook group, called “Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood – FAU Chapter.”
– Attend a meeting. The club holds general meetings on the third Wednesday of every month in the Sago Palm Room of the Boca Student Union.
– Attend an event. Their next event, Scary Sex Spooktakular, takes place on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Sago Palm Room of the Boca Student Union. Vox members will be debunking various myths about sex at this event.