Sex Ed at The Hill

By Raina Shah ’20

On February 19-20, Hill welcomed two guest speakers to communicate the topics of sexual education and healthy relationships to the community. Both the Student Life and Counseling Offices worked together to bring experts Cindy Pierce and Al Vernacchio in to speak with multiple groups within the school. Though formal sexual education is currently absent from Hill’s core curriculum,  many smaller paths have been taken to implement sex ed into the student body’s education. This year, February at Hill was renamed “worth and dignity month” to put further emphasis on maintaining healthy relationships as well as providing students with some guidance for how to navigate tricky relationships.

“This month is a focus on relationships of all kinds and how respect for one another plays into them. It is not just about sex, but the different kinds of Greek love,” Director of Residential Life John Giannikas said.

The ancient Greeks had multiple words for love depending on the type of relationship one had with a person. There were different words for describing the love one has for a friend versus one may have for a family member or significant other. The goal of the Student Life Office during this month is not just to bring information to the students about romantic relationships, but about all the different types of relationships. Many forms of programming have been implemented during this past month to remind the student body to treat each other with respect and kindness. Fourth form Eudamonia sessions have been focused in this area, drop-in sessions with the counselors are being offered, and the speaker series are all examples of Hill trying to take a step forward into having a more open conversation on campus about what a healthy relationship involves.

The sixth form had an opportunity on February 19th to meet with speaker Cindy Pierce who discussed social courage and how social media can affect relationships. She talked about the negative impact of hookup culture and how it can continue the trend of many students settling for less. Her goal was to try and prepare the sixth formers for their next four years in college with the discussion about consent and finding adults one can rely on.

“The hope all adults share is that young people take their time and choose their partners carefully, and healthy sexual relationships require communication and accurate information,” Pierce said.

The second visiting speaker, Al Vernacchio, presented his pizza metaphor to the entire student body the day after Pierce’s session. Vernacchio focused on the stigma around sexual activity and how that stigma can impact a relationship. He brought up the well-known baseball analogy with regard to sex, but he pointed out many modern issues with this comparison including the sexist and unequal ideals it assumes. Vernacchio then proposed his pizza solution which informed the student body of a different way about thinking about sexual activity which included consent, communication, and equality.

Worth and Dignity month is helping the conversation of sexual education arise on campus which many are hoping that this will lead to a healthier and happier student body.


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