The Gay Straight Alliance held a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 6 to 7 p.m. where it invited Kwamé Adams, a health educator at University of North Georgia’s health services, to speak. Adams offered information about sexual health for the LGBTQ+ community and answered anonymous questions, which were voluntarily sent in by GSA members as well as some of Dr. Jenny Vermilya’s sociology students.
Adams began his journey at UNG as a health educator for Student Health Services on Oct. 16, and feels it is an honor to be working to educate students about their physical health. His main goal is to help students live a healthy lifestyle so they are able to grow and succeed academically.
With a background in research and education on disease prevention, specifically STI/STD and HIV 101, Adam’s brings a unique knowledge base and perspective to UNG’s health services. “I believe it is essential as a health educator to not only continue educating myself, but also educate the student body about sexual health issues within the community,” said Adams.
GSA’s Q&A meeting began with Adams answering list of anonymous sexual health questions that were sent in to GSA prior to Wednesday’s meeting. However, GSA also offered attendees an opportunity to anonymously ask spur-of-the-moment questions during the meeting by passing around a bowl and paper where participants could discreetly submit their questions.
One of the topics discussed was what Student Health Services has to offer UNG students. Unbeknownst to some, the health services offered at UNG include lab testing, women’s health exams, STI testing, various forms of cheap contraception options and sex education.
During the meeting, it was brought up that fear of judgment is something that many students struggle with. That fear may be a deterrent for some students to seek out help or advice from health services. However, GSA members reassured attendees that health services won’t judge, and rather, will be happy students are interested in educating themselves and practicing safe sex.
As mentioned by Brigette Kinkade, GSA’s event coordinator, “Living in the South, there is little to no sexual education to begin with.” In fact, there is a lack of sex education overall and it’s especially difficult for the LGBTQ+ community to learn about how to practice safe sex. “People aren’t willing to take the time to talk about such things and may not be able to provide the appropriate resources,” Adams said. However, Kinkade took a stand by opening the door for further education and support. She offered to personally help answer any further questions, or offer needed moral support to anyone who attended the meeting.
Looking forward, Adams hopes having people who are knowledgeable and have experience in LGBTQ+ sexual health will benefit UNG in a monumental way. Adams mentioned that sexual health is just as important as general health and having conversations about sexual health is really critical for youth, college students and in general. In addition, having health educators who are willing to have open and honest conversations with students about LGBTQ+ issues and sexual health will allow all UNG students the ability to lead healthy lifestyles in every aspect. “Student Health Services strives to contribute to the success of our UNG students by meeting their needs and interest. Regardless of challenges, this remains our priority,” said Adams.