Sexuality Conference Stresses Education, Communication

June 15, 2010 - News Release

The Guelph Sexuality Conference, Canada's largest and longest-running sexual health forum, will focus on finding innovative ways of using art and technology to communicate sexual health and education.

"We want people to think about ways to communicate sexuality education using more than words," said Robin Milhausen, a professor and sexuality researcher at U of G, who is the program chair of the event. "Technology has become a huge part of everyone’s life, and we need to find effective ways to educate and communicate using tools that capitalize on new technological developments. We also want to showcase how powerful art can be as a way of conveying messages and creating awareness around different sexual issues."

The 32nd annual conference takes place June 22 and 23 at the University of Guelph. The event will bring together more than 500 researchers, nurses, physicians, public health workers, therapists, students, social workers and other health professionals from across North America.

This year’s program features 90 presenters and 38 concurrent sessions. One of the main themes running throughout the conference is adolescent sexuality. Elizabeth Saewyc, a leading expert in adolescent sexuality research, will give the opening talk Tuesday on “Raging Hormones or Responsible Citizens? The Real Trends in Canadian Teen Sex.”

“The media tends to present adolescents as sexually active and engaging in risky behaviour,” said Milhausen, “but Elizabeth Saezyc will talk about research that shows Canadian youth are, in fact, fairly responsible in comparison to their American counterparts. Teenagers in Canada are waiting longer to have sex, and many of those who are having sex are using protection.”

Other conference presentations on adolescent sexuality will focus on creating sexual identity inclusiveness in schools; using art therapy for sexual health education among racialized youth; programs for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth; the invisibility of young men in sexual health research; sexual reproductive health needs among Muslim youth; talking about sex with teen girls; promoting sexual health among young men from disadvantaged neighbourhoods; and homophobic bullying.

The conference also features talks on the medicalization of female sexuality. Lepnore Tiefer, a prominent opponent of the medicalization of female sexuality, will give a plenary address Tuesday afternoon titled “Is Sex More Like Dancing or Digestion? Unpacking the Dangers and Complexities of the Medicalization of Sexuality.”

“This is a hot topic right now,” says Milhausen. “The medicalization of female sexuality involves defining a sexual problem as a medical problem and using pharmaceuticals as the treatment.”

For the first time, the two-day event will also include a film screening and a photo exhibit. Petals ― Journey Into Self-Discovery will be shown Tuesday evening, and the director and producer will be present to answer questions. The film is a documentary examining the unspoken myths about the appearance and nature of women’s sexual organs.

A photo exhibit by a group of local youth will be on display throughout the conference. Youth aged 16 to 24 were asked to take photographs documenting their experiences of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer in Waterloo Region. “The Truth Exhibit” will use their photos to showcase their needs, concerns and the issues they experience.

The Guelph Sexuality Conference will take place in the University’s Rozanski Hall; it is open only to registrants and the media. Media passes may be arranged in advance, and a media registration table will be set up during the event.

Leading up to the conference, the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Clinical Update will be offered June 21. This full-day workshop provides updates on the treatment and management of STIs. Pre-conference workshops are also being offered June 21.

For more information and to register, visit the Guelph Sexuality Conference website.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1