New student organization UTerus targets sex education in public schools

Rachel Cooper

The state’s lack of sex education in public schools led one UT student to form a campus group aimed at helping students to make informed choices about their sexual health and contraception.

In fall 2016, biology sophomore Eleanor Shaul formed Education and Resources for Uterine Services, or UTerus. That semester, the group posted a survey on the Facebook pages for the classes of 2019 and 2020, and 416 freshman and sophomore students responded. As a result, 66 percent said they received no form of contraception or sex education in high school. 

“The results were honestly a little horrifying,” said Shaul, who is the president of UTerus. “There’s a lot of misinformation and confusion on the UT campus, and I’m sure on a lot of college campuses in general. I’d really like to see people knowing all of their options.”

UTerus formed last semester as part of Dell Medical School’s Model Healthy Campus Initiative, which works to improve campus and community health. Shaul said UTerus hopes to reach many students through strategies such as creating pamphlets, collaborating with health professionals and making informational videos in response to anonymous online questions. 

“Students who don’t have sex ed in high school are just sort of going in blind, so what are you going to do?” Shaul said. “You’re just gonna turn to the internet, right? A lot of people don’t like looking
people in the eye when talking about sex ed, which is totally understandable.”

University Health Services offers similar programs on sexual health education, such as a video series about contraception forms and a workshop put on by Healthyhorns peer educators, but Shaul said UTerus hopes to supplement information and be more specialized. 

“When a program or initiative has student backing and really has students invested in it, it’s most likely to succeed,” said Jessica Wagner, manager of health promotion at UHS. “I
applaud them for the initiative and for recognizing a need on campus.”   

UTerus vice president Maddie Newton, an English junior, said she joined the club to help create more of a social and communal environment around sexual health education. 

“I really want to have a place where people feel open about talking about those types of issues,” Newton said. 

UTerus had its first meeting last Friday but is planning to start meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Flawn Academic Center.