Considering all the media coverage about college students “hooking up”–having sex without a relationship–their lack of basic knowledge surprises Terri Conley, U-M assistant professor of psychology and women’s studies. Conley, who teaches Psychology of Human Sexuality to a packed lecture hall, says one woman wrote her to ask, “Why can’t I have a vaginal orgasm?” (Answer: all orgasms come from the clitoris.) One man who knew little more asked, “Isn’t there a place you can touch and a woman instantly orgasms?”

Conley thinks Michigan public schools’ sex education curriculum may be to blame because of its focus on pregnancy and disease prevention. “It strikes me as sad that there’s so little emphasis on positive sexual interactions,” she says. Her class fills the gap, covering sexual biology, anatomy, and techniques, and explaining terms like “polyamory,” “sex workers,” and “BDSM.”

Conley, who has published articles on gender differences in human sexuality, is careful not to judge her students’ choices. She notes, disapprovingly, that women who have casual sex are perceived more negatively than men who do the same. “Slut bashing”–insulting a woman based on her real or perceived sexual behavior–and “the walk of shame”–a term describing the return home after a sexual encounter–are two examples of what she calls “sexual double standards.”

On the other hand, Conley is untroubled by the latest media obsession, sexually charged text messages. “Sexting” is so commonplace, she says, that her students rarely bother to discuss it, even in her class. What’s missed in the uproar is that sexting avoids the health risks those sex-ed classes warn about so strenuously. For a change, she says, she wishes someone would write a story headlined, “Sexting Is Safe Sex.”