UHP's Human Sexuality Class Helps Local Foster Youth

Leah Hibel, UC Davis professor, taught HDE 12 Human Sexuality for the University Honors Program
Leah Hibel, UC Davis professor, taught HDE 12 Human Sexuality for the University Honors Program

By Shelbie Condie

Dr. Leah Hibel, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies, created a special project last fall. In her Human Sexuality honors course, first and second- year students developed a sexual education curriculum for regional foster youth. This project was materialized when a request was sent by Foster and Kinship Care Education, a local program that serves those who want to become foster parents in Yolo County.

Foster youth represent a high-risk population in need of preventative sexual education classes. Hibel's research data shows that almost twenty-eight-percent of foster teen girls become pregnant by age nineteen, and foster youth are four times more likely than non-foster youth to be tested or treated for sexually transmitted infections. A California state bill mandated such education--an important step--but counties were not provided resources to implement this preventative curricula. As a result, Hibel used the opportunity for a final assignment and split her class into three groups, assigning each one a sex education topic. These topics ranged from conception and contraception, to consent and sexual assault, and normative development. The students each created a two-and-a-half hour workshop and spent three days at the Foster and Kinship Care Education headquarters in Woodland.

These workshops were not easy topics, nor was the audience a fictional focus group. They presented their projects to a group of caregivers and twenty foster youth, youth who had lived in group homes, been sex trafficked, assaulted, or neglected. Those in attendance were affected by real adversities and they were able to relate to these presentations. Enduring the pressure of relaying important information, the honors students embraced the challenge and were polished, poised, articulate, and educational. So much so, in fact, that the director of Foster and Kinship Care Education wants to partner with them to package and film future workshops. These workshops might even be distributed state-wide. Using her platform as an honors professor, Hibel created an impact on the Davis community, and potentially across the entirety of California.