Bakersfield College holds second Consent Fair

April 4, 2023 /

Bakersfield College (BC) held its second annual Consent Fair which brought in over a hundred people and a handful of educational booths. 

The Consent Project, a student organization listed in association with the event, received the Renegade Spirit Award in 2022. The previous year’s event was also awarded BC’s Best Student Event. 

Adrianna Oceguera Donahue, a BC Campus Prevention Specialist and Consent Project Club facilitator, is the creator behind the Consent Fair.

“Consent is the foundation- healthy boundaries and consent are what everyone needs to know from the beginning. So you can start teaching consent at one or two years old. Asking you’re one year old if they want something to eat or if they don’t, or asking if they want to give someone a hug or a kiss,” said Donahue. 

Donahue continued to say that respecting their ‘no’ is essential to supporting youth’s bodily autonomy. 

As the public walked up to the outdoor event you could immediately see the smiles on participants’ faces. There were colorful flags and an event mascot dressed in a yellow, inflatable male condom to help promote dialogue around safe sex practices. 

The Consent Fair also paid tribute to Transgender Day of Visibility, which includes gender non-binary and non-conforming individuals. Transgender Day of Visibility has been celebrated internationally every March 31st since 2009 thanks to the creator Rachel Crandall-Crocker. It falls on the calendar between November’s Transgender Day of Remembrance and June’s Pride Month.

President Joe Biden gave a proclamation and then a fact sheet regarding ways to uplift the transgender community and its youth. The current president stated that he would continue to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will help protect LGBTQI+ individuals from discrimination based on their gender and sexual orientation.

The Consent Fair highlighted inclusivity and intersectionality. All attendants were asked to sign in. Then you were allowed to go to each booth, play informational games, get snacks, and pick up free goodie bags with helpful resources like free male and female condoms and Narcan, also known as Naloxone nasal spray.

During the first semester of school, Donahue contacted other student organizations, offering information and collaborating on ways to educate the campus community. 

“My base for teaching is through the social-ecological model. I want to teach my students, then they teach their peers and they go out and teach their peers, and so on. We’re starting small, it’s kinda grassroots,” said Donahue. 

Donahue mentioned an Indigenous teaching, “Teach me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” This phrase encapsulates the need to share knowledge and be involved in the community. 

A BC student who was a part of the event organizing shared the importance of having a community on campus.  

“No matter where you are from or who you are, or your status, or the color of your skin, or anything you identify as- it’s very important that we treat people as a person,” the BC student stated. 

Kern Public Health had a booth at the event where they gave away free resources and information about current rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and syphilis. 

Shantell Waldo, a Public Health Project Specialist at The Kern County Public Health Services Department, spoke on the prevalence of HIV and congenital syphilis in the region. 

“HIV has come to the forefront, we had 189 cases in 2021, which is more than we’ve ever had,” Waldo continued to state why she thinks the numbers are rising. 

“The problem is that it’s a stigma that kills people. We’re seeing very young people still here dying because they didn’t know that they had it, and they were so afraid of getting tested, or so afraid of doing anything about it, or they didn’t even know they were at risk,” said Waldo.  

Waldo described the past years as brutal. According to data obtained from Kern Public Health HIV is at a 114 percent increase. Also, the county is second in the state for the highest rates of congenital syphilis which is a type of syphilis that is passed to newborn babies during pregnancy, and is 98 percent preventable if the mom gets treatment soon after contracting it. 

Prenatal care, testing for STDs and HIV, and reaching out for help are all encouraged for any expecting mothers. Much of the current data on STD and HIV rates show that there continues to be a disproportionate number of affected LGBTQI+ individuals. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the short-term trend showed individuals who identified as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual had higher rates of substance misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs) than people who identified as Heterosexual.

John Salvador with AEGIS, A Pinnacle Treatment Center Network, shared expertise on ways individuals struggling with substances can reach out for help. 

“[AEGIS] was invited to participate because education on opioid overdoses is super critical right now more than ever. We have more people ages 15- 40 overdosing and dying from opioids like fentanyl and heroin, and the problem has only gotten worse,” stated Salvador.

He continued to state, “The disease of addiction does not care about age, race, ethnicity, or gender, it affects everybody equally. So we want to make sure we’re going to every avenue that we can to spread awareness.”

The Consent Project’s next event is the 2023 Lavender Prom, which will be happening in early May. All attendees are asked to register in advance. Drag performances from several queens and kings will be showcased. This event is for BC students who have never been to a traditional prom, or for those who never got to experience a formal dance with their partner due to discrimination. 

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