UCSB Students waiting for a response from Ann Landers or Abigail Van Buren can get instant answers to their sexual questions with a new web-site launched by sociology students.

Students have been working on a virtual “sex encyclopedia” for the past two quarters with John and Janice Baldwin, sociology professors who team-teach Sociology 152A, a popular human sexuality class at UCSB. The new website (www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo) will be launched Thursday and will include information on a variety of topics relating to human sexuality, including contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, and sex in the law and news.

John Baldwin said the website was designed entirely by students for the purpose of educating the public regarding issues surrounding human sexuality.

“When Janice and I went on vacation over winter break, we discussed how we could put Soc. 152A on the web so everyone could have access to the information we cover in class. Soon after that we created a new class, Soc. 152C, which became responsible for designing the sex info website,” he said. “Now we have about 12 to 15 students really working as a team to make sure accurate sexuality information is available to anyone who has questions.”

An integral part of the website is an interactive feature that allows people to ask any questions they may have about human sexuality. Students of the Soc. 152C class will research the questions and then post answers on the website.

Each student chose a topic of interest and then researched it. The results of the students’ research are posted on the website, which Janice Baldwin said could have international implications.

“They divided up the many topics we could cover, and each student picked one topic to specialize in,” she said. “This is a student-created project, and it is continuously building on itself. It is valuable knowledge that helps free people from the misinformation and myths they’ve heard all their lives. When it comes to sex, knowledge is freedom, and now there’s a way for anyone to have their questions answered.”

Senior psychology major Sam Birdsong, who worked on the STD section of the site, said interaction with the public is a very important part of the entire project.

“We have several hundred pages of information right now, but there’s no way we can cover it all. It’s fairly complete as it is, but we’re constantly adding and changing information as needed,” he said. “We’re really hoping for interaction with people by them e-mailing us their questions. That way, we know what else we need to cover, and we can provide a forum for people to learn from each other.”

The website will include a section on popular myths regarding sex and also a quiz section where people can test their knowledge about human sexuality. The new site also features links to other websites that contain sexuality information. Visitors to the site can play the “catch the sperm” game or find out if the “pull-out” method is an effective means of birth control. Sophomore business/economics major Jennie Hoffman said the information on the site will let browsers know they are not alone in whatever questions they have.

“I did a lot of the information on painful intercourse for women, and women need to understand that other women have this problem too, and that there are things you can do about it,” she said. “It’s a very informative yet very interesting site. It’s good information for any age group, from teenagers up through older adults, and even parents would be able to check it out with their kids. The website shows people what their sex life can and should be like.”

The students contributing to the website are responsible for making the project feasible, John Baldwin said

“The only way to dispel all the myths relating to sex,” he said, “is for people to be informed and knowledgeable about their own sexuality.”