“There is a lack of knowledge about public sexual health in many international organisations”, says Professor Elsa Mari Almås.
Sexologists at the University of Agder have for many years worked to increase knowledge about the field, both in Norway and abroad. These efforts will now be strengthened with the launch of a four-day summer school in public sexual health.
“The concept did not exist, so we coined it ourselves. We believe that public sexual health is important and something everyone should learn about. The summer school is meant for politicians, health care professionals, bureaucrats, journalists and others who work with sexual health, but not in therapy settings”, says Elsa Almås.
The summer school will run from 23 - 26 August at Campus Grimstad, with a focus on four different topics. These are the development of sexology as a field, the understanding of sexual health, sexual diversity and gender diversity, political activities and research.
“This will be extensive and intensive, but we have good experience with a similar course structure for health professionals. We want to gather the students physically, but we have to look at what rules apply this summer. Gathering students on campus gives them the opportunity to get to know each other better and makes people more comfortable. This is important when talking about taboo topics”, Almås says.
An alternative has been planned with online lectures should coronavirus regulations prevent an in-person gathering.
One aim of the summer school is to learn terms and concepts to discuss sexuality without having to use oneself as a frame of reference. This is important to enable you to think and talk about sexuality in a professional manner. The summer school aims to attract international participants, because the sexologists want to reach a wider audience than just Norway with this knowledge.
“We see that many countries have come a long way in attitudes towards sexuality. But in general, there is a great lack of knowledge in large organisations such as the UN and WHO. These have a lot of power, and it is important that the people who make health decisions at such a high level know what public sexual health is all about. Oppressive policies still exist, and several countries have the death penalty or imprisonment for different sexual orientations and forms of cohabitation”, says Professor Elsa Almås.