Sexual health is an essential element of our overall well-being, yet it’s a difficult and under-discussed topic of health care. This is especially true for university students, who encounter challenges and obstacles due to their diverse backgrounds and differential access to comprehensive sex education.
The University of Toronto provides a number of resources, both on and off campus, that meet the sexual health requirements of its students. Here are some of the important resources available to U of T students to ensure they have access to appropriate services, support, and care.
On-campus services and supports
The Health & Wellness Centre is the principal campus resource for sexual health services. It provides confidential care, information, and resources regarding contraception, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy. The facility offers free condoms, and a place for students to buy other contraception options, such as hormonal birth control and intrauterine devices (IUDs), although its same-day IUD insertion program is currently on pause. On the Scarborough campus, it’s located at SL270 and at St. George, on the 12th and 14th floor on 700 Bay Street. The Mississauga campus’ Health and Counselling Centre is in room 1123A in the Davis Building.
Located in Gerstein Library on the St. George campus, in Davis Building’s Room 3094G on the Mississauga campus, and in EV141 on the Scarborough campus, the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre works to address and prevent sexual violence or sexual harassment on campus. It provides a safe and secure environment for survivors, as well as counselling, medical services, and workplace accommodations. Plus, the facility creates training programs and initiatives to promote awareness about consent, bystander intervention, and building a culture of respect.
The UTSC Women’s and Trans Centre, on the Scarborough campus at SL224, provides a safe and welcoming environment for individuals who identify as queer, racialized, trans, non-binary, women, femme, or a member of any other marginalized group. It offers sexual health resources such as informative pamphlets that cover various topics like different types of STIs, various types of condoms, and different forms of birth control. The facility also offers events on gender and sexuality issues, as well as on advocating for the rights and well-being of women and trans people across campus.
The Positive Space Committee — a part of U of T’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Office — is critical in fostering a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for LGBTTIQQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, queer, questioning, and two-spirit) students. It provides sexual health resources such as information on a variety of issues, workshops, and events, all catered to promoting equity, inclusion, and intersectional understanding of identity. The activities of the committee strive to guarantee that all students feel appreciated and supported in their sexual health journey.
The Sexual & Gender Diversity Office is a tri-campus organization that promotes inclusivity and equity for all students, professors, and staff. It teaches about 2SLGBTQ+ identities, gender identities and expressions, communities, intersectionality, solidarity, and allyship. The office works with other campus organizations to arrange events and projects that promote sexual and gender diversity knowledge, visibility, and activism.
At U of T, students also have access to several clubs dedicated to sexual health care and support. Girls Help Girls (GHG) works towards helping women’s causes through community outreach and fundraising. LGBTOUT is the oldest LGBTQ student organization in Canada and offers a variety of resources for LGBTQ students, such as informative seminars, discussion groups, and even a drop-in centre. SCOUT creates an inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQ+ individuals by offering a lounge for study, recreation, and safer sex materials. The Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre (SEC) provides confidential supplies and information regarding sexual health with an emphasis on accessibility and minimizing harm. Lastly, the PEARS Project is dedicated to survivors of sexual violence with resources like peer support teams that strive to create a positive change in policy.
Off-campus services and supports
Some off-campus organizations that provide specialized sexual health services to various communities in Ontario include Anishnawbe Health, Immigrant Women’s Health Centre, Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre, Sexual Health Clinics by Ontario Public Health, Sherbourne Health Centre, and Women’s Health In Women’s Hands.
The Sexual Education Centre at U of T, Sex and U, Planned Parenthood Toronto, Sexual Health Ontario, Teen Health Source Blog, and CATIE are all excellent sites for sexual health education, with information ranging from contraception to STI prevention.
Several helplines offer sexual health information and support. The Assaulted Women’s Helpline assists women who have experienced any form of abuse, while the LGBT Youthline provides chat, text, and email support for youth ages 29 and under, including those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+. Individuals seeking assistance and support can call the Sexual Health/AIDS info line or the Support Services for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse helplines, among others. The Trans Lifeline is devoted to assisting transgender people.
Through these initiatives, U of T — and the communities that surround it — hope to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that caters to the diverse sexual health needs of its student body.