Mister Rogers was such a powerful force for good in the world. I watched the recent documentary about him, and was so struck by his profound ability to listen.
His resonant message is that when our culture becomes increasingly shallow and complicated, we need to find the deep and simple.
Which made me reflect on our mission at More Than Sex-Ed. We facilitate conversations with teens, tweens, parents and educators about healthy sexuality. That’s it.
And while there are a variety of ways we do this (in schools, agencies, open enrollment, parent education, teacher in-services, direct youth services) that can make scheduling and planning and funding complex, our mission is simple. Our mission is about deep listening. And providing the information that people need in order to make good decisions for themselves.
We’ve been looking at potential grant funding, and I am noticing so many of these funding opportunities are looking for organizations with wide impact. As in, “How will your non-profit impact 100,000 people in the next year?” Sigh. So we crunched numbers, and the truth is More Than Sex-Ed is committed to giving kids deep programming, and we won’t change our mission in order to widen our impact. We are going to stay deep.
Deep and Simple.
We’ve got the deep part, but how do we keep it simple? After all at MTSE we have 36 hours of content at both the middle and high school levels! We have diagrams of dozens of intersecting topics involving human sexuality! Sexual identity involves at least 7 aspects of biology, gender and orientation! How is it simple when we have soooo much to talk about?
I think it’s the listening part that brings the “simple.” “Simple” doesn’t necessarily mean “easy”. Our focus on supporting our professional facilitators is our investment in making it look simple. Professionals who are great at reading the subtext that kids bring with their questions, understand kids at the developmental level, and can guide kids in the work of expressing their own values regarding their own sexuality.
I think for MTSE our words are “Deep and Fundamental” in contrast with “shallow and extraneous”. Because really the life skills we teach are fundamental for every kind of human relationship. At the core it’s about valuing consent and honest communication. Respecting boundaries, respecting differences. Taking care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Caring for others.
It’s tricky, because human culture has layered all manner of extraneous baggage into the subject of sexuality. Things like, “pink is for girls…” and “buy this and you will be sexy and desirable”, and “these body parts are naughty.” So much of our work at MTSE is about shaking loose what is fundamental from out of the jumble negative and harmful sexual messages kids are bombarded with every day.
Yep. We are keeping it deep and fundamental. It’s important.