Healthy Sexuality and Consent

Consent is a critical part of healthy sexuality. At Goucher College, consent:

  • Means willingly and knowingly agreeing to engage in mutually understood sexual conduct.
  • Must be expressed in explicit words. Non-communication or silence constitutes lack of consent. A verbal “no” constitutes lack of consent, even if it sounds insincere or indecisive.
  • Must be mutual and ongoing, offered freely and knowingly, and cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated. A person is considered incapable of giving consent, or “incapacitated,” if her or his judgment is substantially impaired by drugs, alcohol, or some other physical or mental condition; or if incapacitated by being threatened, intimidated, or coerced into giving consent.

Here are some general characteristics of healthy sexuality, adapted with permission from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States’ K-12 Guidelines for Sexuality Education (3rd Ed., 2004)

A sexually healthy adult will...

  • Be comfortable with their body.
  • Know that human development includes sexual development, which may or may not include reproduction or sexual experience.
  • Have access to information and resources to protect and enhance their own sexual health.
  • Engage in sexual relationships that are consensual, nonexploitative, honest, pleasurable, and safe.
  • Express their sexuality while respecting the rights of others.
  • Interact with all genders in respectful and appropriate ways.
  • Know the difference between life-enhancing sexual behaviors and those that are harmful to self and/or others.
  • Communicate well with family, peers, and romantic partners.
  • Express their sexuality in ways that are in line with their values.
  • Enjoy sexual feelings without necessarily acting on them.
  • Be aware of the impact of family, cultural, media, and societal messages on thoughts, feelings, values, and behaviors related to sexuality.
  • Accept one’s own sexual orientation and respect the sexual orientations of others.
  • Accept one’s own gender identities and respect the gender identities of others.