Halakha and Sex: Should YU Choose Religion Over Helping Sexually Active Students?

By: Anonymous  |  November 21, 2019
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By Anonymous

In an ideal religious Jewish world, everyone would be following each and every law derived from the Torah. Every Jew would be keeping kosher, Shabbat, and would definitely not be having premarital sex. However, that is not the world we live in. More precisely, that is not the standard way all Yeshiva University students live. Some eat non-kosher, or kosher style,  some keep Shabbat fully, while others keep different levels, or none of it at all. The same is to be said of premarital relations. While the Torah teaches us not to “spill seed” or have relations before marriage, many do. If it’s not having sex, its having oral sex, or engaging in other physical touch that could potentially result in the transfer of a sexually transmitted disease or infection (STD or STI). 

Yeshiva University does its best to prevent its students from being involved with each other in a sexual manner on campus. They ban men from going into the women’s dormitory, and vice versa. As a private institution, it is their legal right to do so. However, as a morally upstanding institution it is their duty to protect each and every student. Even the students who do not follow halakha. In Yeshiva University’s Health Center, both on the Wilf and Beren campuses, help and information regarding sexual activity is minimal.

On the Wilf and Beren campuses, the Physician Assistant’s (PA) office is unable to help in the same capacity they would on other campuses in the state of New York. The PA is allowed to refer anyone that comes in for an STD/STI check to a medical facility and answer questions that are brought to them. They are not, however, able to give out condoms or distribute pamphlets explaining STDs or STIs. Other campuses, however, have all of this readily available for their students. While the PAs at YU are incredibly helpful in every capacity they can be, they are extremely limited in how they can help. Sex should not be stigmatized, but it is, and as a result, students are being blind in their actions and opening themselves up to dangerous consequences. Some students are uninformed and embarrassed, as many of them have been raised in religious households, and attended religious schools that refused to give them a sexual education. Some religious schools teach sexual education, but only a minimal amount, while shaming students for wanting to know what is natural at the same time.

Pamphlets about sex and its dangers are a necessity to a person’s health and should be distributed in the health clinics on both the Wilf and Beren campuses. When raised in a society where sex is seen as a taboo, one may be too afraid of going to another person for information, even a PA. It is important for these types of pamphlets to be readily available, as students who are too afraid to ask questions will still be sexually active with or without this information. If these pamphlets were to be made available, they could be grabbed by these students without a worry and they will be able to learn what they need to learn. A person may retaliate and say that you could get all of this information online, however when doing research online, a student might look at the wrong website and get false information.  

Free condoms should be given out as well, with a pamphlet on how to properly carry a condom and put one on (your wallet/pocket will wear out the material and leave it ineffective). Yes, women having sex should also have condoms, or be given help to get other forms of contraception, such as birth control or Plan B. Condoms not only help to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, but helps in protecting from STDs and STIs as well.  If these forms of contraception and protection are not given out, students may be too afraid to buy them themselves and be sexually active without protection. If they are freely given out, then at least the university knows that they are helping their students be safe, and making the subject less of a taboo. Providing information and condoms will not encourage students to be sexually active, it will just protect those who are.

Until Yeshiva University does what it can to help its students, here is some information about free clinics for students who need it. Even if you’re not planning to be sexually active before marriage, it is still important to know this information for when you are married, or if your plans change unexpectedly. 

The Chelsea Health Center Express is a free clinic, as well as a fast and easy place for people who don’t have any symptoms to get tested for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and HIV, without seeing a nurse or a doctor. Located in the same building is the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic, that offers you to see a nurse and/or doctor. Eligible patients will be offered HIV treatment initiation, vaccines for HPV, meningitis, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, emergency contraception, counseling, as well as other services. If you are scared to use your parents’ insurance, this clinic will not require you to use your insurance if you do not wish to. At most, you will be asked to pay a sliding scale fee, which is minimal. There is also Planned Parenthood, which offers many health services, information, and an app called “Spot On,” which tracks your period and educates you about different types of birth control. You can also make an appointment at Planned Parenthood through this app if you so wish. Below, you will find links to websites of these clinics, as well as websites informing you about sex.

You are not superhuman. You are not exempt from the dangers of life. Not using a condom might be tempting, but the risks are not worth it. Just because someone says that they do not have an STI, does not mean it is true. Sometimes people are not even aware that they have an STI. Don’t be afraid to get help, physically or emotionally. Don’t be afraid to go out and be well informed. Ignorance is not sexy or safe.

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https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/sexual-health-clinics.page

Chelsea Health Center Express and Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic

303 9th Avenue

1st Floor

New York, NY 10001

Planned Parenthood

26 Bleecker St

New York, NY

 10012

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