Lets Talk About Sex

Caleb Nelson

The UMass Boston Peer Health Exchange, or PHE, offers free sex education for students, encouraging them to make healthy decisions and become a positive influence on others.

PHE volunteer Deanna Toner said she’s often surprised when hearing the kinds of misconceptions some high school students have about their bodies upon entering post-secondary institutions like UMB. One girl in a ninth grade health class, Toner said, thought jumping up and down after sex might prevent pregnancy.

“I’ve met lots of ninth grade girls who don’t know how a woman gets pregnant,” Toner said. “They [often] go by what they hear from friends, and most of what they hear is not true.”

The goal of the PHE-designed several years ago by Yale students-is to fill the sex education gap many teenagers are confronted with upon graduation. The program offers college students a chance to go back to high school for a few hours a week to raise awareness about risky behaviors such as tobacco use, nutrition, and of course, sex.

Toner and Nick Ruggiero run the UMB chapter of PHE, and said they are excited about another year with the program.

“Week to week the experience changes” Ruggiero said. “It is a huge boost when students remember what you taught them.”

The PHE mission is to give high school students the resources to make informed and healthy decisions. Ruggiero is enthusiastic about what he has seen this program accomplish in the classroom.

“This [PHE education] is exactly what I would have benefited from as a teenager,” Ruggiero said.

To get involved with the PHE, log onto www.peerhealthexchange.org, or contact Toner and Ruggiero at [email protected].