Assistant Professor awarded $450K grant for 'Sexploration Project'

The head of research identifies as a 'white, neuroqueer, trans, cripple punk, sociologically-trained activist scholar.'

Phase one of the project asks participants to 'document their sexual experiences related to desires, fantasies, behaviors, interpersonal relationships and patient-provider interactions.'

Dr. B. Ethan Coston, Associate Professor in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), received a $462,748 grant in Dec. 2021 to research and compile data concerning LBGTQ sexual health.

The initiative has been dubbed the “Sexploration Project.”

The grant, awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), is part of the “Pioneering Ideas: Exploring the Future to Build a Culture of Health” project. Through this funding, Coston and the rest of her team plan on producing “insights into sex/uality, sexual health, eroticism, and pleasure.”

Coston identifies as a “white, neuroqueer, trans, cripple punk, sociologically-trained activist scholar.” Formerly Bethany Coston, the professor is “known most as ‘dr b’,” and prefers the pronouns they/them. 

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Coston’s research is set to be completed in Apr. 2024 and will unfold in three phases, with the first phase already underway. 

Phase one is focused on collecting data from LBGTQ individuals by asking them to “document their sexual experiences related to desires, fantasies, behaviors, interpersonal relationships and patient-provider interactions.” 

Key terms and concepts are outlined on Coston’s website, so readers can better comprehend the project.

Terms include “Embodiminded,” “Sexuality Prism,” “Sexual and Gender Minoritzed,” and “2LGBTQIA+.”

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The current research “aims to radically shift individuals' internalized shame about sex, empower people to explore the types of sexual relationships they want and need, and inform meaningful policy change on sexual and reproductive health, health care, education, and rights," Coston states on her website.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is dedicated to improving health in the United States. It also works to “identify, understand, confront, and remove the structural barriers to health and well-being, including racism, powerlessness, discrimination, and their consequences.” 

Campus Reform reached out to Dr. B. Ethan Coston, VCU media relations, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.