Celebrating Sex Ed for All Month:  Getting the Facts of Life

Tuesday, May 28, 2024 (noon to 1pm ET)

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May is dedicated as Sex Ed for All Month, so we plan to focus on this important topic. This month is designated as an opportunity to voice shared commitment to a world where all young people get equitable access to the education and care they deserve. Looking at the process in terms of what should be taught, what are the challenges that arise when dealing with intimate topics and how to press on to be sure that sex education is reaching all youth who need and deserve “the facts of life”. This topic will be covered by two leading youth education organizations.

We continue to be concerned that comprehensive, fact-based sex education taught in public schools has long been opposed by certain elements – many in conservative states. Because sex education laws and policies are made by state and local leaders, sex education is frequently under attack. Politicians in many states have deployed various efforts to limit access to sex education, promote conservative agendas, and keep sex educators out of schools. Their efforts have meant that no sex education programs are provided in those communities and instead students are exposed to non-factual, abstinence-only information. This opposition continues in many parts of the country, but notable progress is being made.

The Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), the organization which introduced with partners, Sex Ed for All Month, monitors whether states provide comprehensive, fact-based education. The organization envisions an equitable nation where all people receive sex education, are affirmed in their identities, and have power to make decisions about their own health, pleasure, and wholeness. They work to enhance educator, advocate, parent, youth, clinician, partner, and public understanding of the current state of sexuality education in the United States and opportunities for improvement in both policy and practice. We will have the President of SIECUS, Christine Soyong Harley (she/her/hers) speak about progress and the need for further improvements in sex education across the nation.

Since 2019, Christine Soyong Harley has led SIECUS to focus on sex education as a vehicle for social change, focusing on the broad benefits of comprehensive sex education to prevent child abuse and sexual violence, and to advance education on consent, gender justice, and affirmation of LGBTQ communities. Chris brings extensive executive leadership experience to SIECUS, including having previously run her own consulting business and was the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under the Obama Administration. Chris also brings experience working in state-level agencies and community organizing to SIECUS.

Advocates for Youth (AFY) also works to make sure that sex education is factual and non-discriminating. Founded in 1980, Advocates for Youth envisions a society in which all young people are valued, respected and treated with dignity; sexuality is accepted as a healthy part of being human; and youth sexual development is normalized and embraced. Advocates for Youth champions efforts to help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates believe it can best serve the field by boldly advocating a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health. We are fortunate that Nora Gelperin, AFY’s Director, Sexuality Education and Training will continue the discussion of who, what and how sexuality education can best be carried out and the obstacles that these educators must face in delivering comprehensive sensitive and factual information.

Nora has more than twenty years of experience providing sexuality education to youth and professional development to education professionals. Prior to joining Advocates she was the Director of Training at Answer where she founded the Training Institute in Sexual Health Education (TISHE) and Answer’s online professional development workshops. She was a community educator with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey. Nora holds a Masters in School Health Education from Temple University, was awarded a Mary Lee Tatum Award from Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education and was named a 2014 Fellow of the American School Health Association.

In addition to their 20–25-minute presentations, our speakers will participate in a Q and A session.