- 09 July 2013
- by Talan Tyminski
From a young age, Sara Salmon knew her interests were unique. By sixth grade, she had a condom collection. In high school, she joined the theater department and was involved in their production of the Laramie Project, which tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming’s tragic murder. Outside of the theater, Sara became frustrated with the inaccuracy of her health class. As she explains, “What my teacher told us was flat out wrong. I raised my hand to correct her and basically ended up teaching the class.” From there it was clear Sara had found her voice and knew exactly how she wanted to change the world.
At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Sara joined Sexual Health Peers, a program that focuses on bringing sexual education to college students. Yet, even on a fairly liberal campus Sara and her peers faced backlash. “Anytime we brought in guest lecturers (like a porn star turned PHD) or there was a sexual health discussion on campus we would get calls from concerned parents,” Sara said.
This backlash only makes Sara’s voice louder as she focuses on being ‘Sex positive.’ “ We have three needs: hunger, thirst and desire. I focus on the last one and inform people, so they know there are healthy options,” Sara explained.
Sara’s attention remains on the human and education factors of seemingly controversial issues. She points to Texas State Senator, Wendy Davis who this past week captured public attention with an 11 hour filibuster on the state senate floor over a proposed abortion bill. With Facebook and Twitter plaster with the hash tag “#StandwithWendy,” Davis’ act highlights a message Sara has for teens across the country, “Be your own advocate. Learn your values and promote them. It should never be a debate, no one is right or wrong, but open a dialogue.”
Sara is continuing to be her own advocate as the president of her campus’s Sexual Health Peers and as a member of the State Farm Youth Advisory Board. Sara admits she was a little nervous her ideas would be met with more criticism, but she loves any opportunity to spread education and awareness on a subject where silence is a big part of the problem.