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In 2012, Peggy Brick received the AASECT Sexuality Educator Award. Colleagues were asked to describe Peggy in one word. Here’s a snapshot of those descriptions.

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Peggy Brick died this week. As a leader in sexuality education, Peggy impacted countless lives. Below is her story of how she got into sex ed.

How I got into Sex Ed…

At 85 years of age, I’m challenged to tell “how I got into sex… education.” I wonder, did it begin at Camp TeAta where, for 13 summers, we girls tried to figure it all out, particularly the “old bags shack” where our favorite counselors lived and who (we whispered) were lesbians? Or was it at home where Mother frequently warned that her bridge club friends were talking about “those girls who necked in the back of the movie theater and had a bad reputation?” Or was it at college, where rumors about who was “doing it” were spread with awe and fascination? Possibly the most important reason for my becoming a sex educator was my foundation in sociology and psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University and as a graduate student at Columbia University, 1946–1951.

Of course, hundreds of experiences had prepared me for the fall of 1969 when peripatetic psychologist and sex educator Sol Gordon arrived at Dwight Morrow High School (DMHS) in Englewood, NJ. Sol was hired to help me develop full-year courses in psychology and sociology that would, Sol being Sol, include sexuality. Thus began my 40-year journey as a sex educator.

But first, I had to become a teacher. This began in 1964 when our three children were all in school and Allan, my unfailingly supportive husband, reported a radio announcement about a program called Project Mission, created by the Ford Foundation, which would prepare teachers for work in the inner city. What a great opportunity! A year later, I’d watched 12 “master teachers” demonstrate a variety of approaches to connecting successfully with 12- to 14-year-old children in an all-Black school in Baltimore, MD. For the next two years, encouraged to create and experiment, I developed my interactive approach to teaching that was enhanced by the theory of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Twenty years later, I gave a keynote, “Toward a Pedagogy ofSexuality: Education for Critical Consciousness” at the World Association of Sexuality in Hong Kong.

But back to DMHS, where I “got into” sex education. For the year, Sol Gordon and I taught seven classes, five sociology and two psychology, and — here’s the key to my future life at the end of the year, we brought all those students to the auditorium for a “Sex Week.” We showed provocative sex ed films from Canada, and Sol waved his arms as he gave his inimitable responses to anonymous student questions. The dedication to Sol Gordon in Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter: 30 Sex Ed Lessons for Adults Only includes one of his oft repeated aphorisms:

“Authorities say masturbation is ok… [Then he’d pause and continue slowly.] …if you don’t do it… [Then he’d pause again.] …too much! [He’d give a little laugh.] …but nobody knows… [He’d pause again and say faster and louder,] …how much is too much! [And, after the laughter subsided, he would say,] …and once is too much if you don’t like it.” Sol was an inspiration; think of the wisdom in that silly “joke.”

Sol left, and during the next 15 years I created a 10-week unit, “Human Sexual Behavior,” a popular finale to the full-year, elective courses. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we examined, for example, the history of contraceptives and condoms, the differences between sexually repressive and sexually permissive societies, new research on adolescent sexual behavior in the United States, and contemporary theories on the role of parents in sex education. Most lessons began with a values clarification exercise designed to challenge students to think about each topic in terms of their personal beliefs. Frequently, students worked in small groups, discussing scenarios they had suggested anonymously. Roleplaying difficult situations was especially popular with students who were unsuccessful when doing traditional academic work, but highly successful when acting out their real-life problems. My only poor evaluation came from one supervisor who, while watching students acting and role-playing, complained that “I wasn’t teaching.” I requested a re-evaluation and gave a traditional stand-up lecture, which was graded “excellent.” When will they ever learn?

One of my favorite lessons was “Silent Day.” Students entered silently and for the full period read whatever they chose from Changing Bodies, Changing Lives. I remember one timid 15-year-old boy telling me as he left that he’d chosen to read about rape because an old woman in his apartment building had been raped that week. I learned, once again, how varied and how profound are people’s needs for sexuality education that is sensitive to their particular concerns. A “Sex Questions” box on my desk always invited anonymous questions, and every course I’ve taught since, including those on Sexuality and Aging, has begun with anonymous questions. Questions reveal the inadequacy of rigid curricula and help teachers understand the concerns that must be addressed if sex education is to have a significant impact on students’ lives.

But I was a very atypical sexuality educator. I was teaching in a liberal, supportive community where, when I described the sex unit on parents’ night, the common response was, “I wish I could take that course!” While other sex educators were attacked as the Far Right targeted sex education, the only question I ever had was from a board member who disapproved of a single question on a 70-item “Sex Knowledge Pre-Test” I had distributed in advance of the Sexual Behavior Unit. For a week students could search for answers from parents, teachers, or anyone they chose. The board member asked, “Why did students need to know that ‘25% of people over 75 years of age still had intercourse?’” I explained my belief that we are sexual from birth to death and that students needed to understand that older people were still sexual. We agreed to disagree. Ironically, I retired at age 70, and the topic of sexuality and aging has been my passion ever since.

I was atypical in other ways. The majority of sex education teachers were coaches or health educators. Their focus was pregnancy and STD prevention, which emphasized the dangers of sex. Most had no professional development in sex education, were ill-prepared to teach this sensitive subject, and surely didn’t think of themselves as “sexuality educators.” I did. I attended AASECT conferences, gave “State of Sexuality Education” presentations at Eastern Region SSSS meetings, and became devoted to SIECUS, writing for the SIECUS Report and eventually becoming chair of the board of directors.

Over the years, I continued to discover wondrous new ways to “get into sex ed.” In 1984, I left DMHS and soon became director of education at Planned Parenthood of Bergen County, NJ (now the amazing CFLE at Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern New Jersey [PPCGNNJ]). There, an enthusiastic board and supportive CEOs understood the many benefits to the agency of a strong education department and encouraged our creative approach to providing sex education across the lifespan. Suddenly, being a sex educator meant developing grants, creating teaching manuals, providing graduate courses for teachers, facilitating professional development workshops across the nation, and writing articles that articulated my theory and practice of sexuality education. Now more than 30 years old, my first article, “Sex and Society: Teaching the Connection” in the Journal of School Health, expressed my conviction that meaningful sex education helps students examine the “mixed messages” they receive from a “sexually confused and confusing society.”

To really “get into sex ed,” I had to be a student of that society. Always, I was guided by books, including Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality by John Gagnon and William Simon; Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America by John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman; and Sex is Not a Natural Act by my provocative mentor, Leonore Tiefer. While many sex educators felt they were relegated to a low status among researchers and therapists, I was privileged to meet monthly in New York City with a group of feminist sexologists who respected me as an educator and challenged me to think and rethink my pedagogy. My feminist perspective was articulated in an article entitled “Sex Education is a Feminist Issue” in the groundbreaking journal, New Directions for Women, and for nine years, its editor, Phyllis Kriegal, and I provided professional development workshops through our agency, Affirmative Teaching Associates.

It was this stimulating background that enabled me to work with an enthusiastic staff at the CFLE to target deficits in current sex education curricula. Together we created exciting teaching manuals that featured interactive activities that examined feelings, attitudes, values, and beliefs and developed the skills needed for helping students to integrate information into their lives. Thus, Positive Images: A New Approach to Contraceptive Education replaced boring lectures on contraceptive devices; Teaching Safer Sex replaced HIV films focused on T-cells; and Unequal Partners challenged students to think about the quality of their relationships. Bodies, Birth, and Babies and Healthy Foundations taught early childhood teachers and parents about young children’s sexual behaviors.

In a rapidly changing society, getting into sex ed is a continuing adventure. Creative educators will always be seeking new ways to reach students with various needs at various stages of life. For example, right now there’s a profound need for resources to prepare staff to understand and respect the sexual rights of old people, especially residents in long-term care facilities, many with dementia. Oh! I do wish I were just “getting into sex…ed.”

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With the endurance of the #MeToo movement, and the conversations it has engendered, more and more people are coming to understand that problematic situations aren’t as black and white as they first assumed. And they’re coming to understand why. While the incidents that have necessitated these conversations are upsetting, it’s also heartening to see people grasp the impact power differentials can have on a relationship.

In Unequal Partners, Sue Montfort and Peggy Brick take this concept of power/ powerlessness and apply it to a wide variety of relationship types that students might encounter throughout their day-to-day.

Take a look:

WHO’S IN CHARGE?
Exploring Power in Relationships
By Sue Montfort, MAT, CHES and Peggy Brick, MEd, CSE

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe situations of powerlessness and identify associated feelings.
  2. Explain what it means to have power over someone.
  3. Identify situations and relationships that make a person feel powerful or powerless.

Audience

Middle adolescents (ages 14-17)

Rationale

Every relationship may have some imbalance of power (e.g., one person makes more money, one person is stronger), however, some power differentials are unhealthier than others. This lesson uses a variety of strategies to raise consciousness about the problems of power and powerlessness in relationships. During this lesson, participants reflect on what it’s like to feel powerless, examine different ways that a person can have power, and consider power differentials in a variety of scenarios.

The lesson goes on to spur discussion on the times students have felt powerless, and why. It also prevents multiple relationship types, giving students the chance to talk about who might have more power, and what gives them that power. Examples include the older/younger sibling dynamic, the parent/child dynamic, and the employer/employee dynamic. Eventually, the lesson plan makes its way to romantic relationships, taking the lessons students have thus far learned about power differentials an applying them to dating.

If you’d like to see the full lesson plan, you should pick up your copy of Unequal Partners here!

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Virginia High School Reconsiders Partnership with Sex Ed Providers Following Video Controversy

Western Albemarle High School may be severing ties with the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, a local sexual assault prevention group, after complaints arose in regard to a video shown to two health classes. The four-minute video was created by Laci Green, a sex ed YouTuber, and was about male sexual pleasure.

Kentucky Governor Signs Bill into Law Mandating Abstinence-Based Sex Ed

The governor of Kentucky signed a bill into law mandating sex ed classes that teach that abstinence from sexual activity is a “desirable goal for all school-age children.” All public schools will be required to offer curriculum for human sexuality that instructs students that abstinence from sexual activity is the “only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems.” Another amendment that would have allowed parents to opt out of these classes was rejected.

Sex Ed Sit-Out Happens Across the Country

Opponents of comprehensive sexuality education staged a Sex Ed Sit-Out on Monday, April 23 that dominated headlines last week. The North Carolina Values Coalition organized the #SexEdSitOut to fight what they call “radical, graphic, tax-payer funded, gender-bending sex education.” Along with the sit-out, the organization circulated a petition that, as of several days ago, had almost 41,000 signatures. Protests occurred across the U.S., and also in England, Canada, and Australia.

Advocates for Youth Host a Facebook Live Event

Advocates for comprehensive sexuality education, meanwhile, hosted a Facebook Live sex ed event in response to the sit-out. Using the hashtag #SexEdLive, the Facebook page for Advocates for Youth played host to a collection of live sex ed videos.

Funding Rules Change for Family Planning Programs

Last week, the Trump administration announced new rules around funding for programs intended to prevent teenage pregnancy. These new rules also move away from a requirement implemented during the Obama administration that required organizations receiving federal money to choose from a list of approaches that have been scientifically shown to be effective at changing sexual behavior.

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To stand up to bullying is to be a real-life superhero. To put yourself out there like that takes courage, inner strength, smarts, and determination. Which is why I’m about to reveal the full depths of my nerd-dom by telling you about my favorite superhero.

When I first picked up a trade paperback of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was experiencing. Doreen Green / Squirrel Girl was unlike any superhero I had come across before. Though she could be fierce, kicking butt when necessary, she was also warm and friendly and empathetic, and had a wicked sense of humor.

When I read Tanya Bass and Lolita Smith-Moore’s lesson plan in Let’s Erase Bullying — “Talk It Out to Work It Out” — my thoughts immediately went to Squirrel Girl. Before resorting to fisticuffs, Doreen always tried to find common ground with her adversaries first, talking things out in order to come up with the best solution for everyone. And she often succeeded.

Here’s a glimpse of the lesson plan that will help you teach your students to become their own real-life superheroes:

TALK IT OUT TO WORK IT OUT

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Define the terms negotiate, bully, and assertiveness.
  2. Demonstrate using assertive communication skills to combat bullying.

Audience

Middle adolescents (ages 14 – 17)

Rationale

Being able to negotiate with assertiveness is a necessary and healthy communication skill. Being assertive demonstrates to others that we have control and a clear understanding of what we want to happen in our lives. Assertive communication skills not only improve our interpersonal communication skills within relationships with peers and partners, but also increase our self-esteem by showing others that we can express our feelings with respect, which sequentially builds confidence in oneself.14 In this lesson, participants will learn how to define negotiation, assertiveness, and assertive communication skills and practice using negotiation skills through a bullying scenario activity that demonstrates responsibility and how assertiveness plays a role in being responsible.

The contents of the lesson plan include activities that help students identify pressures in their lives, and learn how to negotiate with those trying to pressure or bully them into doing something they don’t want to do. Check out the full lesson plan when you get your copy of Let’s Erase Bullying!

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Indiana Legislature Now Approves Opt-Out Bill

Just the other month, an Indiana House committee rejected a bill that would make sex ed opt-in, versus opt-out. Since then, the state Senate has approved a bill that would allow parents the opportunity to review the sex ed curriculum and, if they so desire, opt their kids out of the class.

Various School District Press Pause on Sex Ed Courses Due to Parental Pressure

In Washington, the Sequim School District has ceased teaching a sexual health education course in response to push-back from parents, who feel it’s not age appropriate. A primary topic of concern was the curriculum’s new focus on gender identity, which parents feel is only confusing their kids. Meanwhile, after a petition was circulated in Fremont, California in opposition to a new sex ed series slated to run in their community for students in grades 4-6, the school board has voted to postpone it pending further review.

New Bill in Ireland Would ‘Remove Religious Ethos’ from Sex Ed

Because sex ed classes in Ireland are often “outsourced” to Catholic counseling agencies, Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger TD has proposed the Objective Sexual Education Bill, which aims to introduce “objective” sex education, and to remove “religious ethos” from the present curriculum. If passed the bill would require the curriculum to be delivered “factually and objectively.” The bill will be debated in the Dáil on April 18.

Louisiana House Committee Decides Against Comprehensive Sex Ed

A pair of bills that supported comprehensive sex ed were recently voted down by Louisiana’s House Committee on Education. House Bill 499 would have required comprehensive sex ed in public schools, and would have given parents an opt-out option. House Bill 554 would have allowed high school students to participate in an anonymous survey about their sexual activity.

Parents Planning to Pull Kids from School in ‘Sex Ed Sit-Out’

On April 23, parents in school districts across the U.S., and in Canada and Australia, plan to pull their children out of school for the day in order to protest sex education they say has become too graphic due to the influence of pro-choice and gay rights groups. The Sex Ed Sit Out started with parents in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has spread to nearly a dozen other cities in three countries. Elizabeth Johnston, one of the protest’s organizers, has said that most parents wouldn’t “stand for the kind of graphic, gender-bending sex ed” that schools are teaching.

Sex Ed Bill in Oklahoma Aims to Improve Consent Education

Oklahoma House Bill 2734—nicknamed “Lauren’s Law” after Lauren Atkins, a high schooler who was raped at a party last year—aims to provide high school teachers with the training and resources required to have “nuanced, evidence-based conversations” with their students about consent. The bill was passed in the House, 54-34, and will be voted on in the Senate this week.

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We are running excerpts from How I Got Into Sex…Ed. Get a free copy of the ebook here. Order the print book here. Peggy Brick, MEd

How I Got Into Sex…Ed

At 85 years of age, I’m challenged to tell “how I got into sex… education.” I wonder, did it begin at Camp TeAta where, for 13 summers, we girls tried to figure it all out, particularly the “old bags shack” where our favorite counselors lived and who (we whispered) were lesbians? Or was it at home where Mother frequently warned that her bridge club friends were talking about “those girls who necked in the back of the movie theater and had a bad reputation?” Or was it at college, where rumors about who was “doing it” were spread with awe and fascination? Possibly the most important reason for my becoming a sex educator was my foundation in sociology and psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University and as a graduate student at Columbia University, 1946–1951.

Of course, hundreds of experiences had prepared me for the fall of 1969 when peripatetic psychologist and sex educator Sol Gordon arrived at Dwight Morrow High School (DMHS) in Englewood, NJ. Sol was hired to help me develop full-year courses in psychology and sociology that would, Sol being Sol, include sexuality. Thus began my 40-year journey as a sex educator.

But first, I had to become a teacher. This began in 1964 when our three children were all in school and Allan, my unfailingly supportive husband, reported a radio announcement about a program called Project Mission, created by the Ford Foundation, which would prepare teachers for work in the inner city. What a great opportunity! A year later, I’d watched 12 “master teachers” demonstrate a variety of approaches to connecting successfully with 12- to 14-year-old children in an all-Black school in Baltimore, MD. For the next two years, encouraged to create and experiment, I developed my interactive approach to teaching that was enhanced by the theory of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Twenty years later, I gave a keynote, “Toward a Pedagogy of Sexuality: Education for Critical Consciousness” at the World Association of Sexuality in Hong Kong.

But back to DMHS, where I “got into” sex education. For the year, Sol Gordon and I taught seven classes, five sociology and two psychology, and — here’s the key to my future life — at the end of the year, we brought all those students to the auditorium for a “Sex Week.” We showed provocative sex ed films from Canada, and Sol waved his arms as he gave his inimitable responses to anonymous student questions. The dedication to Sol Gordon in Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter: 30 Sex Ed Lessons for Adults Only includes one of his oft repeated aphorisms:

“Authorities say masturbation is ok…
[Then he’d pause and continue slowly.]
…if you don’t do it…
[Then he’d pause again.]
…too much!
[He’d give a little laugh.]
…but nobody knows…
[He’d pause again and say faster and louder,]
…how much is too much!
[And, after the laughter subsided, he would say,]
…and once is too much if you don’t like it.”

Sol was an inspiration; think of the wisdom in that silly “joke.”

Sol left, and during the next 15 years I created a 10-week unit, “Human Sexual Behavior,” a popular finale to the full-year, elective courses. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we examined, for example, the history of contraceptives and condoms, the differences between sexually repressive and sexually permissive societies, new research on adolescent sexual behavior in the United States, and contemporary theories on the role of parents in sex education. Most lessons began with a values clarification exercise designed to challenge students to think about each topic in terms of their personal beliefs. Frequently, students worked in small groups, discussing scenarios they had suggested anonymously. Roleplaying difficult situations was especially popular with students who were unsuccessful when doing traditional academic work, but highly successful when acting out their real-life problems. My only poor evaluation came from one supervisor who, while watching students acting and role-playing, complained that “I wasn’t teaching.” I requested a re-evaluation and gave a traditional stand-up lecture, which was graded “excellent.” When will they ever learn?

One of my favorite lessons was “Silent Day.” Students entered silently and for the full period read whatever they chose from Changing Bodies, Changing Lives. I remember one timid 15-year-old boy telling me as he left that he’d chosen to read about rape because an old woman in his apartment building had been raped that week. I learned, once again, how varied and how profound are people’s needs for sexuality education that is sensitive to their particular concerns. A “Sex Questions” box on my desk always invited anonymous questions, and every course I’ve taught since, including those on Sexuality and Aging, has begun with anonymous questions. Questions reveal the inadequacy of rigid curricula and help teachers understand the concerns that must be addressed if sex education is to have a significant impact on students’ lives.

But I was a very atypical sexuality educator. I was teaching in a liberal, supportive community where, when I described the sex unit on parents’ night, the common response was, “I wish I could take that course!” While other sex educators were attacked as the Far Right targeted sex education, the only question I ever had was from a board member who disapproved of a single question on a 70-item “Sex Knowledge Pre-Test” I had distributed in advance of the Sexual Behavior Unit. For a week students could search for answers from parents, teachers, or anyone they chose. The board member asked, “Why did students need to know that ‘25% of people over 75 years of age still had intercourse?’” I explained my belief that we are sexual from birth to death and that students needed to understand that older people were still sexual. We agreed to disagree. Ironically, I retired at age 70, and the topic of sexuality and aging has been my passion ever since.

I was atypical in other ways. The majority of sex education teachers were coaches or health educators. Their focus was pregnancy and STD prevention, which emphasized the dangers of sex. Most had no professional development in sex education, were ill-prepared to teach this sensitive subject, and surely didn’t think of themselves as “sexuality educators.” I did. I attended AASECT conferences, gave “State of Sexuality Education” presentations at Eastern Region SSSS meetings, and became devoted to SIECUS, writing for the SIECUS Report and eventually becoming chair of the board of directors.

Over the years, I continued to discover wondrous new ways to “get into sex ed.” In 1984, I left DMHS and soon became director of education at Planned Parenthood of Bergen County, NJ (now the amazing CFLE at Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern New Jersey [PPCGNNJ]). There, an enthusiastic board and supportive CEOs understood the many benefits to the agency of a strong education department and encouraged our creative approach to providing sex education across the lifespan. Suddenly, being a sex educator meant developing grants, creating teaching manuals, providing graduate courses for teachers, facilitating professional development workshops across the nation, and writing articles that articulated my theory and practice of sexuality education. Now more than 30 years old, my first article, “Sex and Society: Teaching the Connection” in the Journal of School Health, expressed my conviction that meaningful sex education helps students examine the “mixed messages” they receive from a “sexually confused and confusing society.”

To really “get into sex ed,” I had to be a student of that society. Always, I was guided by books, including Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality by John Gagnon and William Simon; Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America by John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman; and Sex is Not a Natural Act by my provocative mentor, Leonore Tiefer. While many sex educators felt they were relegated to a low status among researchers and therapists, I was privileged to meet monthly in New York City with a group of feminist sexologists who respected me as an educator and challenged me to think and rethink my pedagogy. My feminist perspective was articulated in an article entitled “Sex Education is a Feminist Issue” in the groundbreaking journal, New Directions for Women, and for nine years, its editor, Phyllis Kriegal, and I provided professional development workshops through our agency, Affirmative Teaching Associates.

It was this stimulating background that enabled me to work with an enthusiastic staff at the CFLE to target deficits in current sex education curricula. Together we created exciting teaching manuals that featured interactive activities that examined feelings, attitudes, values, and beliefs and developed the skills needed for helping students to integrate information into their lives. Thus, Positive Images: A New Approach to Contraceptive Education replaced boring lectures on contraceptive devices; Teaching Safer Sex replaced HIV films focused on T-cells; and Unequal Partners challenged students to think about the quality of their relationships. Bodies, Birth, and Babies and Healthy Foundations taught early childhood teachers and parents about young children’s sexual behaviors.

In a rapidly changing society, getting into sex ed is a continuing adventure. Creative educators will always be seeking new ways to reach students with various needs at various stages of life. For example, right now there’s a profound need for resources to prepare staff to understand and respect the sexual rights of old people, especially residents in long-term care facilities, many with dementia. Oh! I do wish I were just “getting into sex…ed.”

Want to read other great stories? Get a free copy of the ebook here. Order the print book here.

How I Got Into Sex…Ed is a treasure! If you’ve ever wondered if this path was right for you or what it feels like to be a sex educator or how to get the right kinds of education, training, or opportunities to work as a sexuality education professional, this book is for you!”

Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH
Director, The Center for Sexual Health Promotion
Indiana University

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Parents in San Diego, Other Parts of California Protest Sex Ed Program

Parents are protesting the San Diego Unified’s sex education program, saying that it’s too graphic, and not age appropriate for school-aged children. The curriculum has three different levels, for sixth grade, eight grade, and high school, during which students learn about gender identification, sexual decision making, condom use, abusive relationships, STDs, birth control, and other topics. The district, for their part, says the program is supported and backed by the CDC. Meanwhile, parents in Fremont have drawn up a petition to oppose a new sex ed series slated to run in their community that would teach students in grades 4-6 lessons in health, puberty, and sexuality. Various communities have struggled since the passing of California’s Healthy Youth Act, and that struggle is likely to continue as school districts grapple to follow the letter of the law while also attending to their communities’ wants and needs.

Utah Expands Its Sex Ed Curriculum

We’ve previously mentioned a bill that would broaden lessons on consent, and on the dangers of pornography. The Utah House of Representatives has since approved that bill, followed by the Senate Education Committee, which means that the state’s public school sex education curriculum will now be revised to include instruction on the harms of pornography, and on skills that will show students how to “clearly and expressly” refuse sexual advances.

Teachers in Quebec Don’t Feel Ready to Teach Sex Ed

We mentioned late last year that, after the passage of a bill making sex ed mandatory for elementary and high school students, many teachers felt ill-prepared. Now, Unions representing three-quarters of the province’s teachers have written to Premier Philippe Couillard, asking him to delay the launch of the mandatory courses, which are now set for next September.

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Before we enter into our first romantic relationships (but after we have left the safe cocoon of all family, all the darn time), we learn to develop and maintain platonic relationships. These first friendships help us to learn various social and emotional skills—and they also provide us with our first examples of both healthy and unhealthy relationships.

In Unequal Partners, Shadeen Francis, MFT, takes the crucible of the teen friendship and uses it to teach students how to recognize good and bad friendship behavior. In this way, students can be better prepared for the future, and be able to see any warning signs that may exist in their romantic relationships.

Here’s a glimpse:

A TRUE FRIEND
Assessing Power and Control in Friendships
By Shadeen Francis, MFT

Objectives

By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Reflect on their ideas of good friendship behavior.
  2. Recognize the characteristics of controlling or disempowering relationships.
  3. Identify alternative approaches to power and control in friendships.

Audience

Young adolescents (ages 10-13)

Rationale

Friendships are children’s earliest nonfamilial relationships; therefore they set the stage for future social interactions. By learning how to identify issues of power and control in a friendship, participants are given the opportunity to practice recognizing warning signs in romantic relationships. In this lesson, participants gain a better understanding of relationship dynamics, and apply them to real scenarios. They are encouraged to collaborate with peers to develop diverse strategies for building more positive interactions.

The lesson goes on to provide opportunities for students to discuss examples of good and bad friendship behaviors, and the impact they can have on individual friendships, and on friendship groups. The lesson plan also goes into power and control dynamics, and tries to impart the notion that healthy relationships are built upon equality and mutual respect.

If you’d like to see the full lesson plan, you should pick up your copy of Unequal Partners here!

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Indiana House Panel Rejects Opt-In Bill

The other week, we reported that a law that would require parents to opt their kids in to sex ed was inching closer to reality in Indiana. Since then, an Indiana House committee has rejected the proposed bill, though parents are still able to opt their kids out of sex ed if they so desire.

Utah Votes To Offer More Lessons on Consent and Pornography

Back in November, lawmakers in Utah drafted a bill that would allow parents to tailor the state’s sex ed curriculum to their children’s needs, and to choose from a suite of optional, web-based lessons as an alternative to in-school instruction. The bill has since been significantly revised, with the web options being thrown out the window, and is now focused on broadening lessons on consent, and on the dangers of pornography.

Melbourne University Hopefuls Must Now Pass a Course on Consent Before Enrolling

Following the release of a report from the Australian Human Rights Commission on sexual assault and harassment on campuses, Melbourne University is requiring that potential students pass an online course on sexual consent before being eligible to enroll.

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