Sexual education in schools and at home has been a longstanding problem in America. Many people do not receive accurate or sufficient information on sexual health, either from their parents or from their schools. Andrea Barrcia, founder and CEO of O.school, is working to change that. Her website that aims to give everyone the sexual education that they need and deserve, regardless of their background.
When researching into the state of American public school’s sex ed regulations, the results are concerning. The Guttmacher Institute reports that only 24 states and Washington, D.C. require sex ed to be taught in schools. Another study, also by the Guttmacher Institute and conducted from 2011-2013, found that 43% of teenage girls and 57% of teenage boys did not know about birth control before the first time they had sex.
The state of sex ed is even more alarming for LGBTQ students, given the fact that even at more progressive schools that teach sex ed, LGBTQ relationships are rarely talked about. According to a Public Religion Research Institute survey in 2015, less than 13% of millennials had received sex ed that included information for LGBTQ students.
In an article about the importance of sex ed, Psychology Today compared abstinence-only education—the platform that many states place value in—to not teaching teenagers how to drive a car, due to fear of accidents. The article then goes on to say that sex education should not just be focused on “the negative aspects of sex, such as preventing STIs, avoiding pregnancies, and overall harm reduction.” Instead, we should be focusing on “sexuality as a normative and positive part of human experience and approach the sexual body as part of the human body.”
O.School is working to combat these systemic problems with access to sex ed. It's is an online sexual education website that seeks to teach people about their sexual selves in a way free from shame and discrimination. The site publishes daily live streams with “Pleasure Professionals,” experts from different fields who have knowledge on sexual subjects ranging from which vibrators are the best to how to unlearn gender norms in LGBT relationships. Anyone who has internet access can connect to O.school and be in a shame-free environment where the goal is for everyone to learn how to have the sex and relationships that they deserve.
In the website's introduction video, founder and CEO Andrea Barrica discusses how she attended a Catholic high school where she was told that every time she had sex her personal value would decrease. This form of sex education caused her to have issues with her sexual relationships because of the shame that she felt. Now, Barrica is using her voice, creating videos like "What I Wish I Knew at 18" to tell people that “as long as it’s between two consenting adults, there’s really nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to what you want in the bedroom.”
In a video posted on O.school titled “From the Bedroom to the Boardroom” Barrica discusses how she was inspired to start the platform after she realized how much more confident she became at work once she was experiencing pleasure in sex. She then highlights the importance of pleasure, as she claims that having good sex--and being able to ask for what she wanted in bed-- gave her the confidence she needed at work. Once she realized this change, she felt inspired to help others feel this confidence. She started O.school to reach for the younger generation so that they would start their sexual experiences with the knowledge that she had to learn later.
O.school is a unique resource in that it teaches a variety of concepts for a variety of different people. O.school live stream topics include how to deal with body shaming, what men can do in the era of #MeToo, or simply: how to make out with someone. All of these livestream conversations serve the company's goal of helping people “overcome shame, heal from trauma, and develop skills to communicate and set boundaries in the pursuit of your sexual pleasure.”
These topics are covered by a record amount of diversity, as according to Forbes, over half of the website’s “Pleasure Professionals” are people of color, over 70% identify as LGBTQ and over 15% are trans or non-binary. Now, no matter what area a person lives in, they can go online and learn from someone with similar experiences to them. Pleasure Professionals are physical therapists, practicing doctors, trauma therapists, social workers and even religious chaplains. Their variety of experiences and knowledge areas allows for all people to learn from those that they can identify with.
In an age where sexual freedom and access to health care are up in the air, there is comfort knowing that no matter what government policy, people can find a “sex-positive oasis” online that will lead them to their best life- full of pleasure, knowledge and free from shame.
Photo Credit: O.school / Andrea Barrica
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Sarah Boyle is an editorial intern who studies English Literature and Sociology at Middlebury College.