Student newspaper advisers tend to groan when editors decide to launch a sex column, but the truth is these popular features can be fun and even educational without descending into the raunchy.
The key to a good sex column is research—of the computer/library/interviewing variety, not between the sheets. There are lots of great sources of information on the Web and on many college campuses.
Here are some tips for putting together a responsible and helpful, yet fun sex column:
• Report thoroughly. Scout for studies, read books on sexuality, interview experts (scientific researchers and therapists, not just the Casanova on the fourth floor of your dorm). A number of universities have sexuality research centers on campus (see resources below).
• Be inclusive. Remember that your readers aren’t all heterosexuals with the same values and sexual practices.
• Don’t be judgmental. Your column should be respectful of all types of people, from transsexuals and swingers to avowed virgins.
• Put it in an appropriate place. The best location for a sex and/or relationships column is a health/fitness page. If your newspaper doesn't have one, find a place in the features or lifestyle section. Though the column may be the writer's opinion, it does not belong in the opinion section.
• Use clear language. Don’t assume everyone has the same definition of “getting it on,” “going down” and other slang terms. Stick to the specific and recognizable.
For examples of well-researched, responsible sex columns see The Kinsey Confidential, a syndicated column that runs in student newspapers around the country. The column is produced by The Kinsey Institute Sexuality Information Service for Students.
Sex information sites
These sites are good sources for information and story ideas.
National Sexuality Resource Center
Society for Human Sexuality
Kinsey Institute Sexuality Information for Students
The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction
The Center for Sex Research at California State University Northridge
Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
Alan Guttmacher Institute
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
For more information about writing a sex column see pages 50-51 of The Student Newspaper Survival Guide.