It’s a common misconception in the United States that sex education is simply an uncomfortable event that takes place for one hour in high school health class. It’s a myth that it must be sterile, squirm inducing, and a dreaded event. It’s also a myth that one ever completes their sexuality education. When Megan Andelloux founded The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (CSPH) in 2010, she became Rhode Island’s sexuality mythbuster. Not only would the CSPH challenge misinformation about sexuality, but its very existence dispels myths that adults don’t need sexuality education, or that it can’t be fun.
The Center in Pawtucket, RI is styled after a 1950s-esque living room, with the addition of plush STI pillows and antique vibrator displays (your grandmother probably kept those in the bedroom). Its bright colors, comfy seats, and open shelves of sex toys all invite visitors into the conversation. The CSPH has three main missions: to reduce sexual shame, challenge misinformation, and advance the field of sexuality. The CSPH is designed to be a place where it is clear the second you walk in that this is a safe space to learn and ask questions.
We want you to come in and learn with us, the key word here being with. The CSPH’s success comes from its give-and-take educational style. Our staff is bright, experienced, and open-minded. Our educators teach workshops on all facets of sexuality, with specializations in cancer and sexuality, disability and sexuality, sexuality after sexual assault, and trans & queer-inclusive sexuality. While we have so much information to share with you, we never claim to know everything. And with this attitude, we all learn a little something about sexuality education in itself. It’s a process, not an event. Together, with open conversations and access to the right resources, we can continue to explore our own sexualities and how sexuality as a whole affects the world we live in.
Besides a great conversation about sexuality and a listening ear, the CSPH has so much more to offer. We have an extensive display of sexual enhancement devices in the Center. Our unique approach celebrates that not all bodies and experiences are the same, but all folks deserve access to sexual pleasure. Our devices are sorted far past the gender binary that so many sex toy retailers adhere to. We have a shelf of toys that work for those with limited mobility, others for trans men and women, and toys that work for those who experience pelvic pain. Our website is also home to an archive of sex toy reviews, so you can get an honest opinion on how these toys work complete with size dimensions and material specifications. Plus, you can now buy toys on our online shop!
The CSPH is also home to an expansive sexuality library. Folks are welcome to come in during open hours and read on topics ranging from pleasure, gender identity, history, law, spirituality, and psychology. The library expands past the Center and into the ever-growing website. The staff and interns are constantly updating our database with new articles on developments within sexuality research or highlights about up-and-comers in the sexuality field. We hope to make honest and accurate information about different areas of sexuality easily accessible.
For those interested in a career in sexuality, the CSPH is an excellent professional development resource. Our educators offer workshops that help attendees navigate the growing field and the plethora of ways to get involved. I started my own professional endeavors in the field of sexuality after attending a “Careers in Sexuality” workshop with the CSPH’s Interim Executive Director, Kira Manser. Kira’s love of her own work shines through in her presentations, making it clear that the sexuality field is the place to be. From questions about graduate school programs, to tips on being a networking all-star, the CSPH staff has the tools and support to help you reach your career goals.
As summer comes to a close, the CSPH has a bunch of exciting events coming up. We are kicking off the fifth season of our popular Study Sex College Tour. Our educators speak at colleges all over the country to discuss consent, communication skills, self-discovery, and other important topics with young adults. We’ll also be celebrating five years of growth, empowerment, and education at our upcoming fundraiser, An Affair to Remember. We want to see forward-thinking LP ladies there to celebrate how far we’ve come. Proceeds from tickets go towards continuing our programs and services so we can live in a world without sexual shame and where comprehensive sexuality education is available to all!
We hope that you’ll join our efforts to continue sexuality education past your 9th grade health class. Whether it’s a visit to our website, our Center, or coming to our anniversary party, our doors are open for you to come and learn with us!
~ Gwendolyn Rosen