Student Sex Worker Resources

The PSU Women's Resource Center supports the right of all students to seek and access safety in all aspects of life, including in the workplace. For students working in the sex industry, this can be a unique and isolating challenge.

Students working in the sex industry can face some additional challenges that can affect their academic life and/or their safety in the campus community. These challenges present tangible barriers to student success and over-all well-being. These can include:

Non-traditional work schedules making required class attendance difficult, Fear of "coming out" in collaborative classroom settings designed for student sharing and connecting, Anxiety about fellow students or faculty as consumers of the sex industry. Fellow students, University staff, or faculty recognizing a student on campus from their time at work, calling them by their performer name or doing other things that violate their confidentiality and separate work identity. "Outing" students as sex workers to other students, faculty or staff.

On campus conversations about the sex trade are often focused on trafficking and victimization which may not match up with every student sex workers complex and varied experiences.

Students participating in the sex industry often feel like aspects of their life are compartmentalized, and access to non-judgmental support and mentorship on campus is not available. Student workers who have experienced interpersonal violence are less likely to report or seek help because of bias or fear of law enforcement and reporting structures.

If you are a student sex worker who would like to organize events around awareness and safety for student sex workers, feel free to contact the Women's Resource Center.

FAQ:

What do you mean by the term sex worker? How is that different than sex trafficking?

People that choose to voluntarily enter the sex trade often have a different lived experiences and needs than people whom are trafficked or coerced into the sex trades. We recognize that the spectrum experience of peoples in the sex trade is widely varied due to factors such as: ability, ethnicity, citizenship, class, geographic location, gender, sexuality and other considerations.

Working Definitions:

Sex Work: exchanging sex or sexual services or sexual energy for money drugs transportation, housing, or something that is needed. Many sex workers make a decision to enter and work in the sex industry.

Sex Trafficking: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, or deception…” (Definition from Urban Justice & the Sex Workers Project)

Harms with Conflating Sex Work and Sex Trafficking:

  • Confusion in the media and in public perception
  • Obstacles to implementing effective public policy, and in practice disregards the human, social, and economic rights of sex workers
  • Social Service agencies can focus on the needs two different populations more effectively when the two are not conflated
  • Policies that criminalize and stigmatize sex work, make it hard for victims of sex trafficking to come forward as they fear they may be victimized further
  • Vast majority of women who have been “rescued” will return to their work in order to support their families.

(Schreter, Jewers& Sastrawidjaja, 2007)

Resources

Sex Workers Outreach Project - USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of people involved in the sex trade and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy. They operate a volunteer-staffed warmline where current and former sex workers, as well as activists and other seeking peer support can access direct support. Call (877)-776-2004

Rahab's Sister is a drop-in center offering 'radical hospitality with no strings attached' to local sex workers and other women marginalized by the sex industry, drug addiction and/or homelessness. They provide hot meals, hygiene items, and good company to attendees of their Friday night outreach.

The Portland Sex Workers Outreach Coalition is a Portland, Oregon based coalition of social service providers concerned with the safety, dignity, and diversity in needs of those working in the sex industry. Their mission is to promote basic human rights and personal safety for all individuals working in the sex industry.

Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP) is dedicated to supporting organizations and advocates working with sex workers, people in the sex trade and related communities in the United States. We produce materials for policy environments, address research and academic concerns and provide organizations and advocates with technical assistance. Everything that we do is guided by principles that protect the rights of people who engage in commercial sex in all its forms.

St. James Infirmary offers free, confidential, nonjudgmental medical and social services for sex workers (current or former) of all genders and sexual orientations in San Francisco, California. We are the first occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers run by and for sex workers!

Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) exists to uphold the voice of sex workers globally and connect regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers.

Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective & Fund is an online based, community run sex worker mutual care collective, activist cooperative and emergency fund to support marginalized workers in crisis.

Adult Performer Advocacy Committee advocates to maintain and improve safety and working conditions in the adult film industry by giving adult performers education and organized representation in matters that affect our health, safety, and community. The mission of APAC is to provide representation for performers in the adult film industry and to protect performers’ rights to a safer and more professional work environment.

Pineapple Support Society is a free support and therapy service for all persons working in the online adult industry – no matter their gender, ethnic origin, social status, age or sexual preference. They have an ever growing team of sex-worker friendly, kink-aware therapists who offer face-to-face and online video therapy sessions. They operate 24/7, and raise funds to help with the costs of professional coaching, counselling and therapy for those who need it.

Stroll PDX is a grass roots group that emphasizes harm reduction and community outreach through an intersectional feminist lens. They focus on empowering all sex workers through diverse means: lobbying, support groups, fundraising, and (recognising that the best way to empower people is by helping to make sure their basic needs are met so that they aren't forced into choices they don't want to make) offering food, clothing, hygiene, and first aid supplies to low income/houseless people.