Students required to visit strip clubs, sex shops for class

By Diane Dawson

One UK class goes beyond textbook assignments and sends students out to strip clubs and stores with adult material to expand their sexual comfort zones.

Students in the non-online sections of Family Studies 253, Human Sexuality and Development, must venture out to a sexual business and evaluate their reactions. They can select a place to visit from a pre-approved list in the course syllabus, which includes: strip clubs, Déjà Vu and Solid Platinum; adult video rental stores, Hustler Hollywood and 2004 Video; gay bars, Mia’s and The Bar Complex; and a lingerie store, Priscilla’s.

Luke Lautzenheiser, a business junior who took the class this semester, was uncomfortable with the assignment, but he chose to go to Déjà Vu.

“The room was small and very dark. It smelled of baby oil and tanning lotion,” he said.

Jason Hans, a family studies professor at UK, has taught the class for three years to more than 2,500 students, and he said he’s received only one serious complaint.

“That turned out to be a validating experience for the assignment,” Hans said, “because I was able to communicate with the provost and associate dean of student services in the College of Agriculture about the assignment, and they concurred that the assignment is contextually appropriate.”

Although Lautzenheiser said he thought the assignment was fair, he has no intention of ever going to a strip club again.

“The entire time I was there I couldn’t help but think that, that is someone’s daughter up there,” Lautzenheiser said. “I want kids someday, and I don’t want my daughter to feel she has to perform this way to earn money.”

Chris Harper, an agricultural communications senior, chose to visit Déjà Vu as well, but unlike Lautzenheiser, he said the assignment did not bother him because it opened his mind to a new perspective.

“I knew about the assignment before I enrolled for the course, and I looked forward to the assignment because I went with friends,” Harper said.

On last spring semester’s course evaluations, 87 percent of students in the course agreed that it was a good assignment, compared to 4 percent who disagreed and 9 percent who were neutral, Hans said.

Ronald Werner-Wilson, chair of the family studies department, said the assignment is a responsible approach to talking about touchy issues and topics, because students are able to choose from a variety of options.

“I think it is an innovative approach,” he said. “This is a hard topic to discuss. I support any activity that encourages people to discuss sexuality topics as long as no one is personally offended.”