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Student Sues College Over Masturbation Assignments In Human Sexuality Class

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A student has filed a lawsuit against the professor of a human sexuality class in Western Nevada College because he required students to keep sex journals for class in which they had to detail their masturbation habits, sexual habits, and past sexual abuse. Karen Royce said professor Tom Kubistant and the department chairman and college president, who are also being sued, dismissed her complaints that the assignments were “sexual harassment.”

Sexual harassment is a serious and important issue. But in this situation, it’s my opinion the term “sexual harassment” is being misused — it sounds like simple pearl-clutching to me. Simply not liking a professor’s pedagogical approach does not constitute harassment. I can understand why, on its face, it might sound potentially creepy for a male professor to assign sex diaries to his class. We have to distinguish from sounds potentially creepy and actually is abusive, though. It’s a human sexuality class in which the professor was clearly trying to get students to view sexuality through the lens of their own experiences; I simply don’t see how that constitutes “sexual harassment” in the slightest. It sounds to me like students knew in advance what the class entailed: Royce and other students were required to sign a waiver before class began that it would involve “graphic content.” It was also explained in the syllabus — which was later reviewed by school authorities after Royce complained.

That’s not harassment, though: this was not sprung on the students out of the blue without advanced warning. She chose to take this class knowing what it entailed. (And by the way, it was an elective course — not a required course or a prerequisite.) Generally speaking, I don’t think a person can willingly engage in something and then complain that something bad was done to them. That’s not what harassment means. The school’s investigation agreed, saying there was no evidence to support sexual harassment taking place.

I don’t understand why, if Karen Royce found this assignment to be personally objectionable, she didn’t just lie about it and keep a sex journal that said she did nothing sexual at all. Instead, the dropped the course after four classes. Her lawyer has said the professor’s assignments “border on perversion” and crosses “so many ethical, legal and moral boundaries.” It’s totally unclear which actual legal boundaries the lawyer actually believed the professor crossed, though — I’m assuming it has to do with students potentially reporting any criminal sexual behavior, but I’m not sure.

What do you think about the lawsuit and Royce’s claims?  Would you be willing to take a human sexuality course like this? Or would you think it would be creepy?

[ABC News]

[Image: Thinkstock]

Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

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