Sexy Spring conference highlights multiple sex education issues

Homemade sex toys, whip lessons and erotic writing are just a few of the workshops being offered at this year's conference.

Betsy Graca

Homemade sex toys, whip lessons and erotic writing are just a few of the workshops being offered at this year’s Sexy Spring conference at Ford Hall from June 13-15.

The event – supported by the Queer Student Culture Center and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Program Office – was started by self-declared “punk anarchists” and has evolved into a more mainstream gathering, organizers said.

Sexy Spring began five years ago as a way to bring different communities together to change perceptions of sexuality and gender, organizer Garrett Ferderber said.

In high school, sex education consists of lectures on abstinence, sexual transmitted infections and little else, organizers said.

Because most people don’t have comprehensive sex education, organizer Charlie Copper said, it’s important to talk about issues with one another in an open venue.

Workshops involve more than just play – one will address having a relationship with a disabled person or education on relationships between the elderly.

“Keeping relationship problems private aren’t helpful,” Copper said.

Despite some risqué subject matter, the group has had few problems organizing and running the event since it began – nothing beyond finding venues that aren’t too “institutional” to hold the workshops.

Each workshop has a facilitator leading the group, though it’s not a lecture setting, the organizers said.

“Everyone has something to teach,” University alumnus and organizer Gregg Lind said, adding that facilitators learn along with the attendees.

The free three-day long series is a safe and mature environment, Lind said. The workshops all include “vibe watchers” to talk people through issues if they get too emotional.

“People discover things about themselves,” Lind said.

Organizer Amanda Nyren said it can be a scary situation learning and revealing personal issues, though many people come back each year as the workshop topics change annually.