Why YOU need Sexual Health Education Training!

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Our culture is flooded with messages about sex, bodies, gender roles, relationships, and power: children are absorbing them from an early age.  Without a trusted source of accurate information, these messages become many people’s only sex education.  What messages are your clients receiving?  Which ones are you sending?

 

All adults who work with youth should have training in healthy sexual development.  That’s what More Than Sex-Ed is here for.  Whether you are a social worker, health care provider, teacher, counselor, camp director, youth pastor, or anyone else who cares about teens, we can help you develop skills to communicate openly about sexuality, while holding crucial boundaries.  The youth you serve need well-informed and supportive adults they can trust.  Join us for our Sexual Health Education Training at Antioch University, March 15-17, to gain the knowledge, tools, and resources you need to be ready when they need you. 

More Than Sex-Ed in Schools Across Los Angeles—De Toledo High School

More Than Sex-Ed in Schools Across Los Angeles—De Toledo High School

We are thrilled to work with a variety of schools!
They may be charter, pilot, or independent schools, but one consistent feature is that each has administrators and teachers who profoundly recognize the value of well facilitated conversations with students about personal relationships and sexual health.

Meet De Toledo High School in West Hills!

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When Parents Don't See Eye-to-Eye About Sex-Ed

When Parents Don't See Eye-to-Eye About Sex-Ed

Co-parents don’t always agree on what is age appropriate for their child. This can be particularly delicate when the topic of age-appropriate sex education comes up. In my experience as a sex educator, the “how young is too young?” type of question is often the first question parents have about their children's sexual education.

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From the Huffington Post: "How Sex Educators Talk to Their Sons About Consent"

From the Huffington Post: "How Sex Educators Talk to Their Sons About Consent"

It is abundantly clear that as a society we still have lots of work to do on the topic of Consent. 

We really love this article by Caroline Bologna in the Huffington Post: "How Sex Educators Talk to Their Sons About Consent", and highly recommend you give it a read.

No matter the gender of the kids you may or may not have, the advice is spot on. Here's a couple of important points:

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From a Class on Consent, a Moment to Treasure

From a Class on Consent, a Moment to Treasure

One boy in the circle had a deeply thoughtful expression on his face. 

 Eyebrows knit together, he raised his hand.

“So . . . if you ask somebody if they want to have sex, and they say no . . . can you still say, like, ‘ok, do you want to cuddle?’ Like, is that okay?”

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Why are More Than Sex-Ed workshop series’ so long!?! Can’t kids learn what they need in a couple of hours?”

Why are More Than Sex-Ed workshop series’ so long!?! Can’t kids learn what they need in a couple of hours?”

Let’s consider just how much of our life experience involves sexuality. What else consumes our thoughts the way that longing for intimacy and sexual fulfillment does? How preoccupied as adolescents are we with our sexual identity and worries about whether we are normal? How much of middle and high school is spent navigating the turbulence of attraction and relationships? And that’s only the segue into what we hope is lifelong healthy sexuality!

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NY Times: "Sex Education Based on Abstinence? There's a Real Absence of Evidence"

A recent NY Times article explores the policy of abstinence only sex education as driven by politics.  Aaron E. Carroll explains that the current administration has deviated from funding sex education programs that are effective based on evidence outcomes.  Although federal support for abstinence based education had increased in the past administrations, the requirement for sex education to be taught in schools had actually fallen "to 48 percent from 67 percent."  

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Abstinence-Only Education is Unethical

According to NPR, Abstinence-only sex education is unethical and ineffective in reducing rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.   Laura Lindberg of Guttmacher Institute notes "that abstinence-only education programs don't succeed in reducing rates of teen pregnancies or STDs."  In fact, Lindberg states that the approach "have little demonstrated efficacy in helping adolescents to delay intercourse".

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The case for starting sex education in Kindergarten

"You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education."

In the Netherlands, comprehensive sex education requires all primary students to have "some form of sexuality education".  Ranging from 4 to 11 years old, the students are taught a variety of topics that include sexual preference, body awareness, intimacy and gender roles.  This sex education also seeks to educate and protect the students on the topics of sexual abuse, intimidation and other harmful practices.  

"The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject."

The approach made by the Dutch government has produced "some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health."  According to Rutgers WPF, only 1 out of 10 Dutch adolescent do not use contraceptives the first time they have sex.  It is also important to note that the Netherlands also have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world. 

Unlike the Netherlands, comprehensive sex education has not been implemented in the United States.  According to Guttmacher, half of the states in the union require abstinence as the main form of sex education.  This narrow focus "on minimizing the risk of pregnancy and STDs from heterosexual intercourse" translates into many millennials acknowledging that their sex education "was not helpful".  The Dutch curriculum for comprehensive sex education provides compelling evidence on the importance of having a well rounded education. It's time to seriously consider comprehensive sex education here in the states.

At More than Sex-Ed, the ability to have a frank and trustworthy discussion about sexual development is one of our core principles.  To learn more about our core principles, please check out morethansex-ed.org!  

 

What West Virginia can teach us about comprehensive sex education

"Of every eight babies that were born in West Virginia, one was born to a teen mother."

PBS Newshour reports on the rising trend of teen pregnancy and birth rates in West Virginia and how, surprisingly, it has led to comprehensive sex education.  Although the trend across the nation has been declining, the exact opposite is happening in West Virginia.  As of May, West Virginia "has the eighth highest teen birth rate of the fifty states."

Here at More than Sex-Ed, we support the comprehensive sex education taking place in West Virginia.  As studies have shown, traditional sex education is not effective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates. That is why it is now more important than ever to implement comprehensive sex education in our schools.  

 

 

Teen Pregnancy: A Surprising New Study!

A recent published study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  shows that use of contraception among teens has led to "a historic low" in teen pregnancy rates in the States. 

 

"The teen pregnancy and birth rate dropped to 22.3 births per 1,000 teens in 2015, compared to a whopping 62 births per 1,000 in 1991. "

Other interesting finding from the study mentions that among sexually active teens the most popular form of contraception used were condoms.  When analyzing a report put together by the Guttmacher Institute, consistent condom use has increased among teens "from 46.2% to 63%".   Although it is easy to conclude that the increased access to condoms in high schools is the cause of the decline, one case study reveals the complexity of this issue.  The Atlantic published an article noting that condom access without sex education can increase teen pregnancy rates.  It is important to mention that other forms of contraception, specifically long term intrauterine devices, led to lower rates of teen pregnancy. 

We at More than Sex-ed believe that it is healthiest for young teens to postpone sex.  When studies show that abstinence only sex education do not delay sexual activity, it is time to consider comprehensive sex education that also includes contraception.

     

What's Happening to My Body?

Here at More Than Sex-Ed, we believe that kids can learn to be responsible for their sexuality without shame. 

When a child asks "What's happening to my body?", they deserve to have their question answered accurately.  And while we know that not every kid going through puberty fits neatly into a standard binary gender box of either pink or blue, as of now, publishers have not stepped up with material that addresses the true level of diversity to include trans and intersex identities. In the meantime, More Than Sex-Ed would love to talk with your group of parents about the fantastic diversity of human sexual identity and help you find accurate language to use with your kids.

 But if you need a book right now with reliable information regarding puberty,  here is a list of book recommendations, with the caveat that you will also need to say that not all boys have penises, and not all girls have vulvas, clitorises, uteruses, and vaginas. And you should recognize that it's healthy for kids to know about puberty in bodies that are different from their own.

The bestselling series "What's Happening to My Body? : Book for Boys/Girls" by Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, and Simon Sulivan provides a vast amount of information ranging from body hair, growth spurts, to romantic feelings.  With "detailed illustrations and real-life stories throughout, plus an introduction for parents and a helpful resource section," this book is a must have for parents.  

For parents of people with ovaries and uteruses in their household, "Period. A Girls' Guide" by JoAnn Loulan, Bonnie Worthen, Marcia Quackenbush, and Chris Wold Dyrud can help start the dialogue around menstruation.  Although this text "use diagrams to familiarize readers with the inner workings of their bodies, including what happens during menstruation", it does not discuss puberty and sexuality as thoroughly as "What's Happening to My Body".  This book is focused specifically on the topic of menstruation.  

Lastly, "The Caring and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls" by Cara Natterson and Josee Masse is a helpful resource book for kids ages 10 and older.  Published by American Girl, this book discusses "the physical and emotional changes" as well as peer pressure and personal care.  This book, like the other recommendations, promotes responsible education about sexuality without shame.    

For more book recommendations on puberty and sexuality, please check out the More Than Sex-Ed Blog! 

 

Puberty: It's Perfectly Normal and Other Book Recommendations

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One of our core values here at More Than Sex-ed is that "knowledge is power and kids have the right to have their questions answered."

For parents who are having trouble starting the dialogue on this topic, here are some book recommendations that make it easier to begin that conversation.  

"It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris is a critically acclaimed book that "offers young people the real information they need to make responsible decisions that can help them stay healthy as they approach and experience puberty and adolescence." 

Another great title is "Will Puberty Last My Whole Life?" by Julie Metzger, RN, MN, and Robert Lehman, MD . This flip book offers "Straightforward, age-appropriate answers to REAL questions from preteens." 

Lastly, "Sex is a Funny Word" by Corey Silverberg has been described by Buzzfeed as "A Total Game-Changer" and "nothing short of revolutionary."  The text discusses not only puberty but consent, gender identity and body norms.   

Look for these books at your local bookstore or online vendor!  Tune in next week for more book recommendations on the topic of Puberty. 

The Abstinence Advocate Who Will Oversee American Sex Education

Valerie Huber has been appointed by the Trump administration as the chief of staff for the Department of Health and Human Services.

What is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for? 

"HHS administers more than 100 programs in medicine, public health, and social services. The department also oversees the Office of Adolescent Health, which is the main area of concern for advocates of comprehensive sex education. The office conducts research and training on preventing teen pregnancy and STDs".

Before appointment, Huber worked as the CEO for the organization Ascend.  Ascend promotes the traditional approach of sex education through abstinence or sexual risk avoidance. Huber is also known for supporting the program "Choosing the Best". This program is geared towards juniors and seniors in high school with the goal of "asking students to take a commitment and abstinence pledge".  Huber's stance "that mainstream culture normalizes premarital sex and contraceptives" shows her support for abstinence only education. 

When analyzing data from states that provide abstinence only sex education, it is clear that states with traditional approaches to sex education are ineffective in reducing teen birth rates.  For example, Texas is one of the states with abstinence only programs as the main form of sex education and the teen pregnancy rates are among the highest in the nation.  It is clear that " Huber's aversion toward comprehensive sex education ignores national data". 

Here at More Than Sex-ed, we promote open and honest dialogue about the state of sexual education.  Although we believe it is healthy for teens to postpone sexual intercourse, abstinence only education is ineffective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates.  When analyzing the available data, it is obvious that comprehensive sex education is more effective in reducing teen pregnancy and birth rates.   

 

 

NPR : In Texas, Abstinence-Only Programs May Contribute To Teen Pregnancies

 

"Research shows teens everywhere are having sex, with about half of high school students saying they've had sexual intercourse. Gwen Daverth, CEO of the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says the high numbers in Texas reflect policy, not promiscuity. "

A majority of high schools in Texas provide abstinence only sex education or "doesn't offer sexual education at all".  The results from Texas policy translate into some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in America.  Although teen birth rates are declining across the country, states that favor abstinence as the main form of sexual education are seeing a slower decline.  This NPR program gives context on the issue through Jessica Chester's experience.     

Our own Emmalinda MacLean, discusses developmentally appropriate sex-ed on "The Doctors"

Emmalinda MacLean, co-founder of More Than Sex-Ed, was invited to The Doctors to discuss a controversial sex education book for young children. “Mommy Laid an Egg, or Where Do Babies Come From?” by English author Babbette Cole.

This lighthearted and zany book was published in 1993, and takes the offbeat approach that the parents don't understand where babies come from, and that the kids do a really brilliant job of explaining things to mom and dad. It became a recent internet meme when many social media voices questioned its developmental appropriateness.

Take a look at the book yourself, and let us know what you think!