Making Sexual Health a Matter of Pride
Hi everyone, I'm Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. Today, I am delighted to interview Andrea Barrica, Co-Founder of O.school.
Spiffy: Hi Andrea, I’ve been looking forward to this interview! Sexuality seems to be a touchy topic on Planet Earth right now so I figured we’d break the ice and dive in – what does O.school do?
Andrea: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! O.school provides medically accurate education about sex and pleasure online – our mission is to be that sex-positive friend for the billions of people who don’t have that resource. We help people deal with issues that can be awkward – like “how do I kiss?” and “is it a sin to be gay?” – because they affect so many areas of our lives. These issues should be treated just like any other health question, but in most places, they are not.
Spiffy: I’ve heard how hard that can be. What motivated you to take up this challenge?
Andrea: I learned firsthand growing up in a conservative Catholic Filipino home, I was told not to have it until marriage and that being gay was a sin. I knew I was queer, but the fear that I would lose my family caused me to hide and ignore my sexuality for many years. Eventually, I got help in my mid-20s, but I began to wonder why technological innovations weren’t extending to the problems that people have around their sexual and emotional health – they impact us for so much of our lives.
Above: Entrepreneur Andrea Barrica teaches a lesson.
Spiffy: I’m glad you were able to find help. Could you tell me more about how O.school is working towards building a more equitable Planet Earth?
Andrea: Many communities, especially BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ folks, and differently-abled people, are affected by a lack of sex education, which has major health repercussions. Often, they've been fed inaccurate, harmful, and discriminatory information. We always center on education, not shame, and make sure everyone in the world has access to a sex life that is right for them. I have made mistakes in my journey, and education helped me grow.
Spiffy: That’s an amazing approach! What’s a recent milestone achieved by O.school and what has been its impact?
Andrea: Many people assume that, with the internet, information on sexual wellness is at everyone’s fingertips. But it’s not always the case – especially when it comes to sex. O.school uncovered that in an attempt to block porn, Apple’s Parental Control filter blocked sexual health sites, while still allowing sites that promoted sexual violence or anti-trans agendas. We called them out, and it got worldwide attention.
Spiffy: Kudos! What’s something that you’ve learned unexpectedly from someone recently?
Andrea: That vibrators are illegal in Alabama, but not guns! One of the most shocking things I’ve seen on a daily basis is how different sex education is from state to state. I wrote a piece for the New York Times last year on the overall trend, but nearly every week you see another school board attempting to stop teachers from discussing LGBTQ issues or demanding a book be removed because it depicts sex and gender in a medically accurate way.
Spiffy: What have you learned from failure?
Andrea: As a startup founder, my biggest struggle has been trying to do it all myself and work harder. Unfortunately, that’s not always the best way. I’ve learned that, when building a team and achieving a goal, my time is better spent figuring out how to align each individual team member’s “zone of genius” with the task at hand.
Spiffy: What is something you would like to say to our young readers?
Andrea: It’s totally normal to be curious and want to learn about your body! Remember to get permission before doing anything involving someone else’s body, and speak up if you don’t want something to happen to your body. You deserve to feel comfortable in your skin. Remember always: you are the boss of your body.
Spiffy: It was great chatting with you, Andrea! Take care and keep up the good work! Bye!
Andrea: Likewise, Spiffy – Bye!
Andrea Barrica is co-founder of O.school a sex and pleasure education platform. Previously, Andrea co-founded the accounting platform, inDinero.com, and served as venture partner at 500 Startups. She is the author of Sextech Revolution, a columnist at Forbes.com and recently appeared on Fast Company’s Queer 50 list. Nominated for Spiffy's interview by The House Fund