UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | February 27, 2024

Anti-porn conference caters to students

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Topics usually taboo around the dinner table were highlighted at a conference in St. George Saturday.    

The Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference drew hundreds of people to the Dixie Convention Center where speakers from around the nation spoke candidly on the harmful effects of porn on the brain, relationships and society. UCAP officials said a special effort was made to bring college students and teens to the conference by making their admission free and holding a session specifically for young adults. 

The keynote speakers were 29-year-old identical twins, Lindsey Kite and Lexie Kite, directors of Beauty Redefined, a nonprofit organization that strives to help women and girls develop positive body image.

“Porn dehumanizes women and makes them an object of their sexuality,” Lexie Kite said. “The over sexualization of women has infiltrated every aspect of pop culture, from movies and commercials to magazines in the grocery store. Porn is giving women an unhealthy ideal of what beauty is.”

Austin Snyder, a freshman communication major from Nibley, said the topics covered at the conference are important for college students to hear.

“Porn is very real—it’s all over in the media,” Snyder said. “The [UCAP conference] covers topics that are especially good for my generation to hear because it resonates with more of us. It’s important to address what harm [porn] does in our society.” 

Clay Olsen, CEO of Fight the New Drug, led the session geared toward young adults. Fight the New Drug is a nonprofit that raises awareness for the harmful effects of porn through social media, short films and speeches around the country. 

“Pornography is an issue that affects so many of today’s youth—it’s an epidemic,” Olsen said. “Our mantra at Fight the New Drug is, ‘Porn kills love.’”

Jordon Sharp, director of student involvement and leadership at Dixie State University, brought several young adults from his religious congregation to the conference. He said the ways in which porn affects people when they use it is something more college students should be aware of.

“I can honestly say I’ve seen hundreds of people struggle with pornography,” Sharp said. “It pushes people into a dark corner.”

Gabby Cabanero, a sophomore computer science major from Las Vegas, volunteered at the conference with nine other members of the DSU women’s basketball team. 

Cabanero said she enjoyed how open the speakers were about porn and sexuality. She said she attended the session, “Dating and Pornography: Starting the Conversation,” because she was interested in learning how porn affects relationships.  

“You really need to have an open mind coming into this and discussing topics like [porn],” Cabanero said. “It’s good to see so many people [at the conference] who are interested in making a difference.”

Olsen said many people who indulge in porn don’t realize how their actions harm society. 

“There is a definite link between porn and crimes like sex trafficking,” Olsen said. “Every time you click on porn, you are fueling the sex trade. Stop the demand for porn, and you’ll be stopping the demand for sex trafficking.”

Olsen said the best way for college students to get involved is to understand how porn harms society and relationships and spread awareness.

“Fight for love,” Olsen said.