Exploring sexuality in college

Natalia Hernandez Maceira

For many students, college is the first time to take control of their sexual health. It’s also how students start exploring their sexuality and expand their identities, according to the Act for Youth Center Excellence.

AJ Leu, Kent State’s CCI Diversity Director, said that college students start to explore their sexuality for different reasons varying from an increased independence from family to an exposure to thousands of options from Google.

Students also have resources provided through the LGBTQ+ Student Center, DeWeese Health Center and Women’s Center that provide workshops to better understand sexual identity on campus.

“Once you educate yourself to see what your options are, it’s really just about your experience from then on,” Leu said. “There is nothing shameful about going out and experiencing things, figuring out what you like and what you don’t like.”

When a senior hospitality major, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, was a freshman, she wasn’t aware of the tools provided on campus. Attending the workshops helped her better understand her options and gave her the encouragement to start exploring her sexuality.

“As much as my friends told me it was OK to be curious about my sexuality, it almost felt wrong to even think about exploring it. I’m glad college gave me that opportunity,” she said. “I went to a very conservative school and most of my family is very reserved, so even thinking about bringing up anything outside of what they’re comfortable with was not safe for my mental health.”

Ken Ditlevson, the LGBTQ+ Student Center’s Director, recommends the psychological services on campus that specialize in serving the LGBTQ+ community. There are three counseling facilities on campus: Kent Hall, White Hall that use student practitioners and the DeWeese Health Center. If you’re a student looking for long term care, the DeWeese Center has three therapists that have specialized training and will be there every semester.

“Students shouldn’t have that pressure or feel like there’s an expectation to have the answers right when you get here,” Ditlevson said. “How to do that is a personal journey and there’s not just one right way to figure it out.”

To Leu, it’s because we’re all so different and have different experiences that bring us closer to being who we are, “That’s why the community is so vast and so exciting and so interesting.”

Natalia Hernandez Maceira is a health reporter. Contact her at [email protected].